Women in Ministry: Following God’s Path

Women in Ministry: Following God’s Path

Galatians 3:28
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It’s not always easy for women to find a place in ministry. Even in our modern times, there can be an imbalance when it comes to leadership opportunities extended and available to men and women in ministry. Whether attempting to join the staff of a local church in a specific position, becoming a pastor of a pre-established church, or starting a new ministry, challenges may arise. Building a ministry is difficult for anyone, but even more so for women.

Fortunately, with a little creativity and God’s guidance, there is a path forward for anyone who is strong and determined enough to follow it. Here are some of the steps to follow to fulfill your purpose in ministry.

Be a Minister First

Often, women going into ministry become pigeonholed as a token women in their roles. In other words, you aren’t taken seriously. It’s quite common for women to be shepherded into “women-only” ministries that cover “women-only” issues. While those concerns are important, that shouldn’t be the limit of what you have to say about God.

There can be pressure to tailor your ministry directly to women. That may be your goal, which is perfectly fine, but if you wish to reach everyone, be sure to avoid the trap of speaking only to the concerns related to your sex. Bringing God into everyday experiences can be a way to invigorate faith, but try to avoid speaking only about stereotypically female topics. Broadening your approach to include everyone in the community will not only open the doors to a larger congregation, it will also demonstrate your ability to relate on a level beyond your gender.

Once a community begins to respect your voice as a minister, you will quickly be seen not just as a woman, but as a dedicated, faithful messenger of the Gospel.

Prove You Have the Mind and the Faith for Ministry

You may need to demonstrate your skill. For a man entering the holiest trade, basic credentials can suffice to prove his competence, but you may have to display more prominently your knowledge of God and scripture. Getting published and finding respected ministers to sponsor you will go a long way to assuage any fears that you don’t belong.

Turn the Other Cheek But be Bold in Your Convictions

No matter how hard you work to portray yourself as a respectable member of the ministry, there is always going to be criticism. The best way to deal with negative comments is to show Christian compassion even when it is hard. Try to understand the difficulty that some people have in accepting a woman guiding their spiritual lives, and return mistrust and dislike with kindness. By allowing those who struggle with your ministry to graciously return to the fold when they are ready, and to do so without stigma, you leave the doors open for reconciliation after a short period. You also de-escalate any disagreements and allow yourself to represent the more mature, godly side of the argument. Fighting back too hard can end up creating a fracture in the congregation.

Take Inspiration from those who Came Before

When the struggle becomes too much, look to those who came before to find the strength to keep going. The history of Christianity is full of women who have testified to God’s holy truth. From Christ’s mother to the early female martyrs, Christianity’s founding is full of powerful women who stood up and spread the Word of God.

Christianity could have never grown as far and quickly as it did if not for these women.

Use their stories to strengthen your faith and resolve in the face of opposition. Whatever you face ahead, there have been women who faced greater odds, and through the power of Christ, overcame them.

Raising SEO Ranking

Raising SEO Ranking

Let’s be honest: we all want to see our church’s posts rank at the top of Google’s search results. But it’s hard to get noticed in the unending world of online content. Even if your church has a lot to say, it often gets drowned out by the biggest voices online. It can be frustrating to get people to pay attention or even see your content.

Part of the difficulty is due to how Google ranks content. The world’s most popular search engine can be a hard place to get noticed. If you don’t publish for one of those already established sites that are already popular and already heavily trafficked, it can feel like there’s simply no way to get your words (or the Word) in front of new eyes.

That’s where SEO comes in, or search engine optimization. These are techniques that can move your content up Google’s rankings and get your site noticed.

Unfortunately, like so much involved in modern technology, SEO can be complicated. But to help ease the burden, we’ve put together guide with a few tips to get Google to help lift your message higher and bring new eyes to your page.

1. Keywords are Still Key

Keywords are the crucial set of words and phrases that define what you’re talking about. If you are in the baseball card business, for instance, “baseball,” “card,” “trade” or “sale” would probably be key to any topic you cover, while “Babe Ruth” and “Hank Aaron” might be key to a particular article.

If you were involved in SEO in the 1990’s or early 2000’s, you may know that having lots of keywords in your content was very important for high page rankings. However, since search engines now use a number of ways to determine where a page is placed in a search, keywords are not the only way to get a page to move up.

That doesn’t mean that keywords don’t still serve a purpose. So, putting the right words in your page title, for instance, can still improve how relevant Google considers your article to the most common searches.

If you are writing about activities in your community around Christmas, be sure to put those main concepts in the page title or first few sentences of the first paragraph. “[Cincinnati] Christmas Activities” will net a far higher ranking than “What you can do around [Cincinnati] at Christmas.” This can take a little time to adjust yourself to, since the latter may seem more intuitive.

Using those words again (and/or synonyms) in the article will further reinforce the exact niche your article fits into. In our above example, starting your article with a sentence like, “The local Christmas activities for [Cincinnati] will include:” with a keyword-rich list of events, would help Google sort your article into its proper place.

A word of warning, though. If you try to stuff too many keywords and too much keyword repetition into your article, Google may actually penalize you. So, tread with some care here, and make sure your keywords read like a natural word selection in every instance.

If you’re struggling to come up with keywords, consult authoritative sources like Google Adwords to generate some ideas.

2. Keep the URL Short

It’s easy with all the effort going into building your church’s presence online (Using Social Media to Promote Your Church & Crafting a Church Marketing Plan) to forget the little things that Google seems to cherish above all else.
One of those is right there above this article: the URL.

If your URL is short and keyword rich, Google is more likely to notice it. With such an obvious and simple trick, you might think this would go without saying as you click “publish” on that next post, but not every site-building platform will naturally create short URLs. Unnecessary information like the date or sorting categories connected to your site layout or even a seemingly arbitrary set of numbers and letters can clutter the address and will cost you when Google comes scanning your page for relevance.

For optimal results, keep the URL short and to the point, ideally with just your main site address and the keyword-rich article title.

3. Go Long

Despite the common assumption these days that no one knows how to pay attention anymore, Google is a big fan of long articles. If brevity is the soul of wit, verbosity is the essence of ranking.

While the exact word count Google looks for isn’t known, the search engine does seem to prefer content with more than a thousand words.
So, don’t be afraid to add a few more points to your post or an anecdote or two. If there’s another story that might make your point stronger, add it with all its requisite detail.

While it will do no good to jabber on if your point is already made (Google measures how long and how far down the page visitors read), and simply adding nonsense to extend your page length will immediately be noticed as spam, the general rule should be this: if you have the ability to elaborate on a subject then do so.

4. Keep it Quick

Fast and responsive websites also rank higher for Google, and that makes a lot of sense. How often have you clicked a link and grown frustrated waiting for the page to open? If you do that, and every other user does that, imagine how frustrated Google must get with that extra half-second it takes to reach your information.

This point goes well-beyond just SEO. This is just basic online courtesy.
Think of it like this: if your church has greeters at the door on Sunday who hold the doors and welcome people in, how do you think a prospective new congregant would feel if it takes forever to get a greeter’s attention and get the door opened to enter. Would that person wait around, or would they decide this church really isn’t for them?

Basically, if you want others to come to your church, and if you want Google to help you, you have to show some speediness in holding their interest. Take the time to time your site and make sure everything is loading with consistent, blazing speed. Google prizes this so highly, it has revealed publicly that this is an important factor in its ranking system. Google has also provided a site that can tell you how fast your site is and what you can do to improve.

5. Link link link

Google loves links. Connecting content makes Google’s job easier and creates a more cohesive experience for those searching through topics. But while most links are good, some links are more worthwhile than others.

Internal links are links made to your own content on your site. These are less weighty than external links that lead to and from other sites, but they still serve the purpose of getting more eyes on your past posts. The longer users spend on your site, the more Google will be willing to raise your site up in the rankings. These internal links also merge your material and identity into a cohesive whole. Feel free to link within your articles to your church’s statement of faith or previous. You’d be surprised how many people will click to learn a little more about what you’re about.

But external links are where your Google ranking can really start taking off. That’s because Google has become very interested in what it calls “authority,” a somewhat ambiguous concept attached to sites that people trust and frequent. Authoritative sites tend to be the major news outlets, government sites, educational sites, and similar prestigious institutions.

To really get Google’s notice, you would need one of these sites to link back to you, thus lending you some of that precious authority. But peppering your pages with authoritative links does show to Google that you consult trusted sources and present accurate information, which is a major concern for the search engine.

A word of warning, though: just like keywords, overusing links can get your posts labeled as spam. With every link, make sure it is germane to the topic and that the link works. Even more, don’t start buying links from other sites. Google has become very good at sniffing out which links are authentic and which are bought.

One way to get genuine links can be through guest posts from another authority in the field. Have a fellow pastor from another church write a few posts and then share links between the two sites. Creating such connections will bring more visitors to your site and strengthen your own authority in the field.

6. Share Everything

Perhaps this goes without saying, but social media is simply the way of the world these days. According to Pew Research, 62% of Americans get their news from social media at least some of the time. Avoiding Facebook and Twitter is quickly becoming an impossibility for businesses and churches alike.
But it isn’t just a matter of setting up the page and occasionally posting a verse from Scripture. To really use social media effectively, you need to post and share content regularly. That’s the only way to ensure that your content is going to get out there.

Just like Google, Facebook uses algorithms to decide what news gets in front of its users every time they log in. If you post rarely and those posts aren’t shared, it’s hard to convince Facebook to place your latest article at the top of the page, unless you want to pay them. To avoid this, simply get into the habit of sharing. Share posts from other churches that you think will speak to your congregation as well. Share photos from recent church events. Share stories about congregants and about yourself. Preview next Sunday’s sermon. Then, make it easy for others to share for you as well. Make those Facebook and Twitter icons on the page easy to identify. By giving your readers the option to share the post easily, much of the work can be done for you, which brings more viewers, more external links, and a higher ranking on Google.

SEO is a vast topic, and these tips are only the tip of the. But if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be well on the way to making sure your church is the first stop for anyone in search of an answer.