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This book was written by several people who have invested their lives and hearts into ministry to women at Elmbrook Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin. For many years we have been nurturing the dream of sharing our experiences in women's ministries through a book such as this one, in the hope that many women will find themselves encouraged, challenged, and called by God to establish vibrant and life-giving ministries in their own churches. Over the last two decades we have seen God use our ministries to meet the needs of women, to train and equip them for leadership, and to lead many into new relationships with him. As witnesses of the great things that God has accomplished through and in women, how could we keep silent about all he has taught us?
This handbook is our combined effort to introduce to you the Elmbrook Church Women's Ministries as one model of ministry to women. We are not proposing that you adopt our exact model. Ours is simply a model of growth, not of perfection. Our hope, rather, is that our ideas and insights from the last twenty-five years of ministry will help you catch a vision for what God can do through a ministry to women. He transforms lives; he builds deeper relationships; he stretches us and teaches us, building into us the character of Christ. And we believe that the church as a whole can be built up as women are built up through women's ministries that are designed to meet their real needs.
Whether you are organizing or reorganizing your ministry to women, we invite you to window shop among the pages of ideas in this book. Our successes and failures will be shared in hopes that the former will inspire you and the latter may prevent you from repeating some of our mistakes! Program ideas, philosophies, structures, and principles which we have found helpful will be presented for your consideration. This book is intended to be a workbook. The wide margins make it convenient to take notes, brainstorm and put down ideas. If we can assist you in determining the needs and desires of the women in your church and community and serve as a catalyst for vital, vibrant ministries, tailor-made to address those needs and desires, then our purposes for writing this handbook will have been accomplished.
Women are creative, innovative, sensitive, gifted, nurturing, resourceful, and resilient! God knows that's true because he made us. We wish you all the joy and excitement we have found to be a part of ministering to women in his name.
It takes a certain type of woman to invest her life in the lives of her kind. It takes a woman with a heart for the Lord and for women's well-being to start with. It also takes a commitment to follow through, see to all the details, and deal with all the discouragements along the way.
The people who have contributed to this handbook are such women. This work reflects only a fraction of their expertise. God has developed a ministry that has touched hundreds of lives over the years, and we have learned in the growing to look first for his 'well done' at the end of the day. It is fitting, however, to affirm and appreciate each other as well, and so we thank the loving friends and fellow 'givers' and 'doers' for having such a vital part of this big project. We trust it will be a catalyst in other women's lives.
The following women have contributed to the content of this handbook: Lisa Kinakin, Jennifer Johnson, Dell Jansen, Cindy Greenup, Carma Bowerman, Jean Robinson, Deb Hackbarth, and Janet Keddie.
Special editors have shaped it: Ann Lawton, Iva Johnson Danielson, and Shauna Perez.
Project support has been given by Elmbrook Women's Ministry board, and typists Laura Hintz, Ruth Dalbey, Rosie Nieznanski, and Debbie Briscoe have committed it efficiently to type.
Above all, we have all had a part in praying that the kingdom may come in many women's hearts because of their self-giving dedication and their delight in service---and their love for the Lord.