Connections: Mary Ritter
Oct. 12, 2014
The New Chi Alpha
Mary Ritter serves as women’s director for the North Carolina District of the Assemblies of God. She and her husband, Bruce, are pastors at Christian Life Assembly in Gibsonville, N.C. Ritter recently spoke with Pentecostal Evangel Editorial Assistant Emily Tharp about the challenges and opportunities of ministry to women.
evangel: How did God lead you to include women’s ministry in your already full life?
MARY RITTER: In 2000, God began to redirect my passions. Besides serving with my husband, Bruce, at Christian Life Assembly, I had an education career. It was a worthy calling, but I began to sense God’s direction towards being more engaged in women’s ministry and spiritual leadership at our church.
Doors began to open for me to serve on the executive committee for North Carolina Women’s Ministries. When our district director resigned, the leadership approached me about taking her place. I still remember that phone call. I was shocked; yet, now, I realize God provided preparation and confirmation in every step of the journey.
evangel: Tell us about the Touch the World Fund and the Red Envelope Compassion projects in your district.
RITTER: The heart of our Touch the World Fund is to support our North Carolina-based Assemblies of God world missionaries. We’re committed to raising funds to equip their homes overseas. As we celebrate the AG centennial, we must remember that from its inception, AG Women’s Ministries has been rooted in supporting missionaries.
Every year we have a headline project for our Touch the World fund. In 2009, our Red Envelope Compassion project helped upgrade three schools in ethnic minority villages in rural Northern Asia where the gospel had never been heard. This year, our giving will help build a community center in another village and provide some scholarship monies for students to further their schooling.
evangel: What challenges does women’s ministry face today?
RITTER: We live in an age when we have more and more devices to increase efficiency and save time. Yet most women would immediately say they feel a deficit of time. The number one reason for not participating in women’s ministries is a lack of time.
I firmly believe women will find the time and a way to do what they really want to do. When women have a great experience spiritually and relationally, they will remain involved.
Another challenge is crafting ministry that reaches across the generations. In larger churches especially, ministry often caters to specific age groups or life stages. While there is value in meeting the needs of specific groups, we desperately miss out when the generations are not connected. The Titus 2 principle of mentoring is still valid today, and the younger generations long for older women of God to speak into their lives.
I would not be talking with you today if God had not given me relationships with godly, Spirit-filled women in their 40s and 50s when I was in my 20s. We need to have women of all ages on our leadership teams and to design ministry that facilitates intergenerational relationships.
evangel: What advice do you have for others who work in women’s ministry?
RITTER: As I mentioned, combining generations is very important. I suggest having women of all generations on your leadership teams, which creates health and balance in ministry planning.
Also, women today are looking to be part of serving the greater community outside the walls of the church. Some of our most successful local and district events have been times when we serve others together.
Women will not participate in a ministry or event just because it is on a church or district calendar. Participation happens when the events are life-giving, meaningful and enjoyable.