Navigating Women’s Ministry: Cathy Horner

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

(Jeremiah 17:7-8)

It is hard for me to remember a time as an adult that I haven’t been involved in Women’s Ministry and experienced the blessing of growing spiritually through it. My first participation with like-minded, redeemed women was in the women’s fellowships that were offered at the seminary.   We had the thrill of having Elisabeth Elliott around to occasionally address our little meetings.  What an unforgettable, godly treasure of wisdom she was.

Then when my husband and I planted a church in Raleigh, I witnessed the crying need that women had for relationships with other believing women. They thrive personally and spiritually when they find connection, companionship and community with other women.  Our church began to offer small group Bible study for our women, and they soon bonded as they sat under the tutelage of God’s Word.  We saw them step up to support and encourage one another in the Lord.  In fact, once I offered women the chance to dig deeply into the Word and discover how to navigate this confusing world with grace and trust in the Lord, my husband noticed that the number of anxious women seeking counseling from the pastors dropped significantly.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 encourages us to be deeply rooted in the Lord, for He will provide growth and peace in all of life’s stressful fluctuations.  But how can a new believer love and trust someone they do not know? Thankfully, we can go to God’s revealed Word which leads us to a deeper and more intimate knowledge of Him. Any developing Women’s Ministry must teach women how to nourish themselves upon God’s Word with devotion and attention to His voice.

As I read this passage in Jeremiah, I see each redeemed woman as a tree God has planted in His family of faith. And as the Head Gardener, God sovereignly plants her in the place He has chosen for her to grow.  So I always told myself, no matter where the hand of God had led me to live, that I should bloom (minister) where I was planted.  The nature of ministry with women is that there is always such a diversity:  from students to professionals, from young moms to empty nesters — all in different phases of life.  I was always keenly aware of my shortcomings as I stepped into leadership over them.  But God ask us to use our particular giftedness to serve (1 Pet.4:10).  He gently led me to organize training opportunities, service opportunities, and fellowship opportunities for our women.  God was so faithful and generous to me as I drew upon the HIs resources for endurance, teachability, and sensitivity to others.

An important question a leader asks herself about those women God is always sending across her path is: “What can I do to help her to grow?” And of course, God’s Word does not leave us without direction!  1 Peter 2:9 tells us to declare the excellences of the One who has called us from darkness into light.  Titus 2:5 provides a call and a directive for spiritually mature women to mentor those younger in the faith. Heb.10:24-25 asks us to stimulate one another to love and good deeds by assembling and encouraging one another.  Heb. 12:13 tell us to strengthen the weak and needy.  Colossians 3:12-13 tells us to represent Christ with faithful, kind, and forgiving attitudes.

As our service is done wholeheartedly and with humility, ministry takes place, for our obedience to God allows Him to take charge of the outcome and the fruitfulness.  He always can be trusted.

About the author

Cathy Horner found joy in the adventure of serving the Lord for 37 years alongside her husband, David, at Providence Baptist Church — which they planted in 1978.  At Providence, Cathy founded the Women’s Conference, Lambs Bible study and My Evening Walk Bible Study, the Women’s Ministries Council, and the Mentoring Ministry. In 2016 the Horners retired from PBC and established a new ministry called Equipped for Life, through which they mentor and consult with church and ministry leaders.  God has blessed them with three fine sons, three terrific daughters-in-law, and five lively grandchildren.