Training Multiple Generations of Women to Carry Their Swords and Use Them Properly
By Megan Rawlings
The alarm wakes me early on a Saturday morning. A few minutes later, I grab my Bible and race out the door, headed to a Bob Evans an hour away. I pray as I drive, asking God for boldness and that my millennial heart will be content with him receiving all the glory. I walk into the bustling restaurant and sit down in a booth across from a new disciple of Christ. The waitress brings me my usual, a cup of half coffee, half hot water. This has been my Saturday routine for almost a year. I was not always committed to waking up early on my day off, but I learned about some needs that shifted my priorities.
The Need for Biblical Understanding
According to Barna Group, 50 percent of high school graduates think Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife, 51 percent of churchgoers have never heard of the Great Commission, 13 percent of people surveyed believe Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife, and a considerable number think Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount.
I initially struggled to believe these statistics, but a conversation opened my eyes. I asked some Christian friends, “Who preached the Sermon on the Mount?” They half-laughed and then shrugged. One answered hesitantly, “Abraham?” At first, I thought he was kidding. Finally, another friend asked earnestly, “Then who did?”
I was stunned.
I wondered long and hard why self-professed Christians knew so little about their faith. I initially concluded they simply do not read their Bibles. As I searched for ideas on how to encourage others in this, I stumbled onto another Barna study that determined half of believers do regularly read Scripture! But if so many Christians read the Bible, why do they seem to know so little about it?
In Ephesians, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to outline the full armor of God. Paul referred to the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit.” A soldier is not handed a weapon and sent directly into battle. A soldier first receives extensive training in the proper use of a sword. Likewise, Christians need to be trained to understand and use their Bibles.
Moreover, consider Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch:
And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to [the eunuch] and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him (Acts 8:29-31, English Standard Version).
The eunuch accepted Jesus as Savior and was baptized.
Church leaders need to realize their congregations are filled with people who read the Bible but do not understand it, and that those people need guidance.
The Need for Mentors
It’s hard for a woman to find someone to mentor them in their Christian walk. It’s politically incorrect to say this, but I believe women should disciple women and men should disciple men. As a young Christian, I was fortunate to be surrounded by dedicated disciplers; unfortunately, few were women.
To this day, I still seek advice from Scott Rawlings, a pastor for 60-plus years (and my father-in-law). I ask him questions about my walk with Christ every day. Our relationship is special and unique, but I still long for the guidance of a mature, Christian woman. And I wonder, Why wasn’t there a godly woman not only willing, but eager, to mentor me? I asked Christian women to help me, but some told me they weren’t knowledgeable enough, and others said they were too busy. These were reasonable excuses, but they were just that—excuses. Older disciples who are rightfully worried about the state of the church—myself included—should eagerly seek out younger people to guide.
This situation inspired me to start The Bold Movement (TBM), an online women’s ministry and support system. My idea was to blog about ways women could find resources to help with their quiet time. As the idea evolved, TBM has focused on training women to find resources to help with their personal Bible study, and then to disciple other women.
TBM has grown into a 17-person team. We prepare women through weekly podcasts featuring Christian leaders. Since adding monthly live streams to help ladies understand Scripture and demonstrate ways to share the gospel, our social media engagement has spiked. We are creating educational videos to help women study, plan, and teach a Bible study. We are also preparing material to help parents walk their children through the faith process step-by-step. And, of course, we are nearing completion of our first women’s Bible study—on Leviticus, of all books! We at The Bold Movement believe people who understand the Word will be bold believers ready to serve as God’s instrument to embolden others.
We begin by teaching women which commentaries are faithful to the Word. We show them how to use Greek and Hebrew interlinears to better understand Scripture. We train women to use a concordance, and we teach the historical and cultural backgrounds of the text (such as explaining that the father of the prodigal son tossed off all dignity by running to him).
We at The Bold Movement believe it’s not enough to read the Bible. We must also learn how to study it and absorb its message so we can help others do the same . . . whether in a group setting or one-on-one over a cup of coffee. We will walk hand-in-hand with our women to help them disciple others through discreet social media interactions.
The Need for Multiple Generations in Making Disciples
TBM is a multigenerational ministry serving women from the “greatest generation” down to our youngest member, Carter Brooke, a 5-year-old who asks everyone she meets if they know Jesus! We support all women to do whatever it takes to win souls for Jesus by using Generational IQ, a groundbreaking book by Haydn Shaw, as a reference tool. We have listed the steps we are taking with each generation to show you how it can be done.
The Greatest Generation. Women in the greatest generation were born 1900 to 1945. They are loyal to their commitments, but they also fear not being useful due to their age or lack of physical abilities. These women are needed more than ever. They should take the lead in training younger women of the church who are willing to listen to them. Yet, too many are just trying to fill their days. TBM is calling upon the greatest generation to be trained and combine their wisdom with biblical knowledge to mentor young women in their congregations.
Baby Boomers. Christian women of the baby boom generation (born 1946 to 1964) are passionate and view faith primarily as a relationship that has benefits and problems. Unfortunately, most of the Bible studies produced by this generation have been heavy on “self-help,” emphasizing psychology over theology. We challenge baby boom women to take their passion and combine it with solid biblical training, while using their relational gifts to help their peers and younger women.
Generation X. People of generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) are from the overlooked latchkey generation. These women are pretty grounded. They are most concerned with the result (and not the how). Their first question tends to be, “Does it work?” The Bold Movement reminds these women that God’s ways always work and encourages them to combine their practical approach with the riches of Scripture to make an eternal impact.
Millennials. According to most experts’ definition, my own generation was born between 1981 and 2001. Millennials are confident, brave, and look for meaning. Courage and passion are wonderful traits, but boldness without knowledge is dangerous.
For example, Barna reported that 73 percent of millennials claim they know how to respond when someone raises questions about faith, and that they are gifted at sharing their faith with other people. Yet, almost half of millennials say it is wrong to evangelize in hopes of converting someone. The Bold Movement challenges millennials to prioritize the teaching of the Word of God over political correctness, and encourages them to find true meaning by evangelizing the lost and discipling the saved.
Generation Z. People of generation Z were born after the end of the 20th century. We are still learning about this generation, but these young folks appear to be open to instruction—yet terrified of messing up. They seem to be the most anxious of any generation. Gen Z folks are the least likely to have close personal relationships, but they crave relationships more than any other generation. The Bold Movement wants to train them and give them peace by fostering a close relationship with their creator and others.
The Need for Boldness and Training
The ministry of The Bold Movement is still in its infancy, but we have been awestruck by what God has done through the efforts of a handful of hungry disciples.
Jill Walters is a woman of passion who was searching for a greater purpose in life. After joining our team, she has constantly been looking to share Christ with others. While traveling recently, she spoke with two strangers while they ate breakfast together in a hotel lobby. She invited them to church with her. They declined by explaining they are practicing homosexuals and they did not think they would be welcome. Jill silently prayed for them and left for worship.
As she loaded her rental car the next morning, the two women pulled up next to Jill and one asked, “How was church?” Jill excitedly told them about the sermon that focused on baptism. One of the women confessed she needed to repent and return to the faith. The Bold Movement was God’s instrument in helping Jill be brave in speaking about her faith, and it may have had an eternal impact on two strangers. TBM wants more and more women to grow in their faith, gain confidence, invest in other women, and boldly share Christ wherever they find themselves.
C.H. Spurgeon said,
If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.
People in our culture need to be bold, but they also need to be trained, and that’s why this ministry exists. We all are busy, but we need to make time to learn God’s Word. As poet and missionary C.T. Studd wrote, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
At the end of our breakfast meeting on that especially cold Saturday, the waitress approached us with excitement. She told us our weekly meetings inspired her to find a church and recommit herself to Christ. When you pray for God to make you bold for his glory, he will. Are you ready to be bold?
Megan Rawlings is the founder and CEO of The Bold Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian leadership with an emphasis in theology. She is married to “the most interesting man in the world” and teaching pastor at Christ’s Community Church in Portsmouth, Ohio, Matt Rawlings. The Bold Movement team has reached more than 5,000 women in less than six months.