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When Women Thrive

The underground movement transforming the church.

When Women Thrive

The underground movement transforming the church.

Cassandra Speer knew God was calling her to ministry. But for years Speer struggled to find women in her community who would come alongside her to support and pursue that dream. The road ahead felt long and lonely.

“I’ve been the girl who was eager to serve the women’s ministry team at her local church only to never be invited to attend another meeting,” said Speer. “I got the message loud and clear: ‘There’s no place for you here.’”

Now Speer is an author, speaker, and living out her ministry dreams. She also serves as vice president of Her True Worth, an organization that produces short devotionals for young women on social media. Through their team of writers and artists, Her True Worth supports the creative gifts of women by nurturing them and providing a platform where they may grow. Speer long dreamed of a place where women could find support and solidarity, like what she so badly needed when she wanted to enter ministry, and now Her True Worth does just that, reaching more than 5 million people each month with their content, online community, and daily text devotionals.

Founded in 2015 by artist Brittany Maher, Her True Worth quickly grew into a digital ministry, amassing a dedicated social media following. Up until 2019, Speer had been just another follower, but when Maher issued a call for contributors, Speer knew she had found an opportunity where her gift of writing would be supported and nurtured.

Take Women Seriously

Women long to belong, but that's not all they want. They also want their gifts and talents to be utilized and taken seriously.

Churches can meet this need, but not all women see a direct connection between their gifts and the needs of their local church—and not all local churches are eager to find ways to incorporate the multifaceted contributions of women.

In the absence of other outlets, parachurch ministries, organizations, and passionate entrepreneurial individuals are serving and equipping women, largely online. The internet has created pathways, like social media platforms and niche groups, for women to find support and like-mindedness.

Women who spend most of their day in the home and those who travel frequently for work now have more options for professional development, mentorship, and discipleship. Digital communities provide spaces to gather, in synchronous and asynchronous ways, so women who have obligations, limitations that bind them to a place, or inflexible schedules can still get their needs met.

Communities like Her True Worth create spaces where women can be represented, where skills can be cultivated, and where gifts can be affirmed. They are breaking cycles of underrepresentation and inequality while contributing to a fuller picture of the kingdom.

Speer’s interest in Her True Worth was an answered prayer for Maher, too. Not only was Speer a strong writer, but Maher quickly recognized and named Speer’s operational leadership and project management skills. That’s when Maher invited Speer to help lead their growing team of contributing writers and artists.

“I am still in awe of Brittany’s obedience, following the leading of the Holy Spirit to lift up the gifting and abilities of other women more than her own,” Speer said. “It’s not about platform or fame but about faithfulness.”

Oftentimes, the barrier to women identifying and growing their gifts is not the lack of desire or talent but rather a lack of opportunity. Many women never experience the life-giving power of finding a role for which they are perfectly suited. This is what makes Maher’s leadership, and communities like Her Truth Worth, so invaluable.

An Answer to the World’s Problems

“The body of Christ suffers when the gifts of women are not celebrated,” said leadership coach Jo Saxton. By gathering women from all professional contexts to affirm and activate their gifts through her virtual leadership coaching community, Saxton is correcting what she views as a habitual absence of opportunity. “Women find ourselves in board rooms or fellowship halls where there is only space for one or two leading women,” when in fact, Saxton said, “there are 45 women in the room who could be leading.”

Saxton is on mission to equip Christian women to become more confident, own their voices, and lead more effectively in their respective contexts. “Human flourishing is dependent on women stepping into their calling,” said Saxton. “Our gifts are not just about us. They’re the solution to the world’s problems from a gracious and good God.”

Representation matters. That’s why it’s important to celebrate and support women in positions of influence. Sarah Kinzer, host of the Pocket Pulpit Podcast and the director of generational ministries at her church, has been on the receiving end of Saxton’s mentorship since 2020. “This coaching community emboldened me to present myself differently,” said Kinzer. “Jo’s mentorship has help me better recognize my own giftings and strengths which allowed me to help my leadership see how they could use me more effectively.”

For those who don’t have leading women in their lives to look to for mentorship, Saxton recommends being proactive in seeking out mentors.

“You might have to slide in a few people’s DMs, and you won’t get a yes every time. But keep going,” she said. “No leader thrives alone—it’s important for women to find mentors and to build peer networks so that your leadership and your ministry can be sustainable.”

Collaboration Not Competition

One of those peers for Saxton is a fellow leadership coach and entrepreneur, Alli Worthington. Worthington is passionate about helping other women answer their call to write, speak, and lead, which is why she co-founded Called Creatives with seasoned ministry leader Lisa Whittle.

One of the biggest mistakes that women make is believing that they are alone or that there is no opportunity or need for them to be faithful to their calling. Worthington and Whittle recognized this and dreamed of a community where creative Christian women could develop their writing and speaking gifts—from their home—and be mentored to lead rather than feeling intimidated, frustrated, or stuck.

Called Creatives is a support team for collaboration. Through this group, one woman who felt called to start a podcast for other homeschool moms connected with a woman who runs a podcast production company. A woman called to tell the story about what God has done in her life found a book coach who helped her refine her message before pitching it to publishers. An aspiring conference speaker sparked a friendship with a ministry director who invited her to speak.

Women starting their own ministries are often invited to intern with Worthington and Whittle as they are taken behind the scenes of a full-time ministry. Some interns discover that they thrive in these backstage support roles, while others go on to step onto stages, large and small, where they lead in more visible positions. Perhaps the most important takeaway from these internships is the realization that no leader leads on her own.

“Scarcity and jealousy from others have crushed a lot of women,” Whittle said. “It’s made us question our calling or our worthiness, and the church is worse off for it. We must take responsibility for our own jealousies so that we can be free to cheer for other women and experience the joy that comes with watching others thrive in their calling. God will not continue to bless us with influence if we don’t honor one another with it.”

Leadership Begets Leadership

For Kinzer, it’s not enough to protect corners of the internet where women affirm one another; it’s also essential for women to keep each other accountable to take action. “We have to teach women how to identify where doors are shut in their lives, how to get the keys, and how to hold the door open for other women,” Kinzer said. “Digital spaces are perfect that.”

Online ministry and digital discipleship are not counterfeits of the real thing—they are the real thing. While they can never be replacements for embodied local church and communities that gather physically, the internet continues to remove barriers that many women have historically faced and provides abundant opportunity for women to be better equipped to serve in their local contexts. Her True Worth takes that call seriously.

“It’s our firm belief that when it’s used with wisdom and strong boundaries, social media is an awesome tool that can be used for the kingdom of God,” Speer and Maher wrote in their recently released book, Her True Worth. “It has blessed us with countless friendships and incredible opportunities.”

There are women who, without social media, find it difficult to have the courage and encouragement needed to step into their calling. The internet has connected the world and invited people to create without the gatekeepers who have historically kept women out of places of influence. Women no longer have to wait to be handed the keys.

“We need more women to intentionally carve out pathways and open doors that have been opened for them so that more women can become the influencers and leaders they are designed to be,” Saxton said. If we tend to these paths, Saxton is confident that the church will experience the fruit. “Too few people doing a lot of work leads to burnout. It’s essential for the wellbeing of the church that we reduce burnout in our leaders by collaboratively raising up more leaders.”

The church is elevated when the gifts of women are honored and used for the good of others and the glory of God. It’s a reciprocal process—when women rise, in turn, the church rises too.

Morgan Strehlowis a freelance writer and editor based in Waco, Texas.

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