When I joined my first church plant I was fresh off a summer camp ministry high. During my years working in summer camp ministry, I saw what small, close community and constant gospel preaching could do in a community of believers.

That is what Christian summer camp does really well. So when I stepped into a Texas middle school cafeteria-turned-sanctuary and saw the real, raw people and the love they had for each other as a church family, it really drew me in.

It didn’t take long for me to find a small group I could grow with, and I knew God had given me unique gifts, so I jumped at the opportunity to be a volunteer youth group leader for the 5th-8th grade girls.

I was excited for Wednesday nights and 2nd service on Sunday mornings when I could giggle & snack with these girls and give them the hope of the Gospel and take them deeper into God’s Word.

As it turned out, it was God’s plan for me to marry a church planter, and those early days were training wheels for being on mission in a new country and starting a church in a place very different from Texas.

Being a woman in church planting is like being a human in church planting. No matter who you are, it takes prayer, sacrifice, abiding, more prayer, consistency, creativity, boldness, forgiveness… and did I say prayer?

Women do bring unique gifts to a church plant. Hospitality, nurturing, and teaching are all vital for discipleship and for new churches to start & grow.

Women really bring these things in abundance, and a church plant would be completely off-balance without women being there, “in the trenches,” with the guys. In short, women in church planting should NOT be rare.

When people use the term “church planter,” they usually mean the man that will be the lead pastor or person “in charge” of a new church. But this term could actually be used to describe all of the men and women involved in planting the church (a core team, perhaps). These people are church planters. They are planting churches.

The women who Paul mentions in several of his letters throughout the Bible are commended for their full participation in the gospel mission.

Women like Phoebe in Romans 16, Priscilla (Prisca) in 1 Corinthians 16 & Romans 16, and Nympha in Colossians 4 are credited for laboring side-by-side with Paul, hosting house churches in their homes, and also leaving behind their hometowns to travel with Paul to spread the Gospel.

They were wives, mothers, and daughters keenly set on the mission laid before them because of the love of Jesus Christ. They were church planters.

They were wives, mothers, and daughters keenly set on the mission laid before them because of the love of Jesus Christ. They were church planters.

Let me take a moment to encourage any woman reading this. Everything I’m talking about comes down to basic Jesus-following.

Before you go and change the world or jump into a church planting team, start with immersing yourself in God’s Word first. Find another woman to disciple you, and start feeding yourself spiritually. This is absolutely vital. We need to abide in Jesus. He said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Leave behind the vain pursuits of the world and get in the dirt with Jesus. You don’t have to look or act a certain way, or be the perfect mom, or be married. God is ready to use you when you are open and available to him.

Find other women you can pour into and start discipling. Volunteer for outreach and evangelism. The world is dying without a cure and we have the message of hope!

Pray for boldness. God will give it! That was my prayer for a couple of years and still is. I used to be shy, timid, introverted, and nervous in crowds. I still have those tendencies, but God answered my prayers and now with Him I can walk up to strangers to ask how I can pray for them or share the Gospel!

Some of my favourite stories of church planting have come from those encounters. Everything worth doing is difficult at first.

Everything worth doing is difficult at first.

To the male leaders in churches and church plants: Involve women! Don’t miss the opportunity of what women can offer to your ministry. Go out of your way to involve women in leadership and church planting initiatives. Provide training for them. Women are often the catalyst that God uses to impact the rest of the church!

I still have a lot to learn, but I know that I have no greater joy than to give my life to furthering the cause of Christ. I’m praising God for the gift of being a woman and for the unique ways he is using me to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our church plant.

Jennifer Huntley is the Communications Director with the Fellowships Network in Toronto, Ontario. She is married to her husband, Jared, and together they moved to Canada from Texas in 2015 to start Fellowship Oshawa, a church plant on Toronto’s east end.