“When I look back at the last few months I can’t believe I couldn’t see Him weaving it all together,” said Sarah McMahon, who recently launched a women’s ministry at her church,
Western Reserve Grace Church, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Macedonia, Ohio (Jason Haymaker, lead pastor).
Sarah, a former coordinator for the GraceConnect eNews, has been on staff at Western Reserve Grace Church (WRGC) for almost nine years. She served as a volunteer coordinator and interim children’s ministry director before settling into her current role as director of marketing. All things visual and communication related pass through her office, and she’s spent the past five years streamlining the process and creating systems to enable ministry leaders to operate more effectively. Sarah has trained staff and volunteers in how to utilize graphics and communicate information on their own, freeing her up to pursue other ministries.
“About a year ago the Lord started planting things in my heart in terms of women’s ministry,” Sarah recalled. “I didn’t know how to verbalize that, or even what it was at the time.” At the time, WRGC occasionally had women’s Bible studies led by volunteers but no formal ministry. During the pandemic, women in the congregation reached out to Sarah for guidance and direction. “As I began to walk through things with women spiritually, I began to pray about what it would look like to have a women’s ministry at church.”
Sarah started a Bible study during quarantine, a hybrid of an in-person small group and zoom meetings, and 35 women joined. At the same time, women in the life group Sarah and her husband led proposed the idea of hosting a women’s conference called IF: Gathering. Sarah helped the women plan the event, which consisted of in-person worship and streaming pre-recorded teaching sessions that tackled major issues women faced in the previous year.
One conference attendee, Sandy, said: “The conference was an excellent idea, and perfect timing. Everything was spot on! Worship, the messages given, and all the added comfort that an all-day event could ever need to sustain the inspiration and momentum.”
In the midst of planning the conference, Western Reserve’s lead pastor, Jason Haymaker, approached Sarah about launching and leading a women’s ministry, and Reserve Women was born. The ministry seeks to answer the question, “If God were sitting down with you for coffee, what would He want You as His daughter to know?”
In answering this question, Reserve Women focuses on three things: you are known, you are valued, and you are loved. “Women tend to feel overlooked,” Sarah said. “We want women to know their work is valued whether they are a stay-at-home mom, a CEO, or a student….it doesn’t matter what they do but rather who they are reaching.” One participant in the new ministry, Ahtera, described the meetings as “a safe space for sisters in Christ to grow together in their walk with God without fear of judgement and exclusion.”
At each event women are taught through the Word of God that they matter to the heart of God, and they are equipped to minster to the other women in their lives. “We’re a biblical community….we are in this together.”
Although she didn’t at first, Sarah now recognizes how the Lord used the shift in her job responsibilities, the pandemic isolation, and her willingness to connect with other women to lay the foundation for Reserve Women. She also recognizes the story of the ministry can have an impact on other churches that don’t have a women’s ministry. “Hopefully it will empower someone to talk to their lead pastor, or a pastor will know of someone.”
Send Sarah an encouraging note here.