Widows: The Untapped Resource in Your Church


Energy experts have been on a decades-long quest for clean, efficient alternatives to traditional fossil fuels. The relatively untapped natural resources of wind, solar, hydropower, and geothermal energy have companies scrambling to secure power above, on, and below the earth’s surface.

What if I told you there’s a spiritual resource just below the surface in your church that, if tapped into, can produce great spiritual power?

I’m talking about harnessing God’s gift of widows.


When most pastors and church members think of widows, their minds immediately go to the Christian’s responsibility to care for them (James 1:27), and rightly so. Jesus had a heart for widows. But he did not see them simply as vulnerable people in need of care, but also as examples of active service to the Lord.

The first encounter with a widow in the Gospels is Anna. Luke tells us she “did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers” (Luke 2:37). She was one of the first to proclaim the Christ-child as the redeemer of God’s people.

Jesus used the example of widows to teach his disciples about proper worship to God. Sitting in the temple, he watched a widow give her last two coins in the offering box and pointed to her sacrificial generosity and wholehearted devotion to the Lord. He told a parable about a persistent widow in order to celebrate tenacious prayer lives.

Widows aren’t delicate knick-knacks to put on a shelf and dust every now and then; they’re vital ministers to be deployed in the life of the church. They can teach the church a great deal about faith, devotion, service, and prayer.

In other words, don’t just minister to widows; mobilize them. Don’t discount them; deploy them.


By God’s grace, one of the greatest pieces of advice I received when I began my first senior pastor role was how to effectively care for and empower widows in my church. A veteran pastor recommended I have a monthly lunch to hear how I can pray for them, but also to employ them as prayer warriors. This regular rhythm provided an effective way to give attention to their needs and utilize their untapped energy and influence.

We already had a Sunday morning Bible study for senior adult ladies, most of whom were widows, so I started there.

My approach is simple. My assistant prepares a light meal at the church, and then I meet with these dear ladies for about an hour. As we visit, I ask about their families, their memories of God’s activity in our church in the past, and how they see God working in our church today. At the end of each lunch, I ask how I can pray for each of them specifically, and then I give them a “Pastor’s Prayer List” card, which includes specific prayer requests for my family, my ministry, and our church.

I’ve told them from the beginning that even if they can’t physically do everything they once did, they remain a vital part of our church and can make a spiritual difference through their prayers. I truly believe a large part of the recent growth and effectiveness of our church is directly associated with these widows’ fervent prayers. The monthly lunches have made these saints feel seen, known, loved, and needed, and they have become some of my greatest friends and encouragers.

Encouragers of Unity

When I arrived at the church, we had two worship services—a traditional and a contemporary service. Only a handful of people attended the traditional service, and most of them were in the senior ladies’ class. Sadly, because of this division, most of our members did not know these precious saints. Additionally, these ladies missed out on the baptisms and presentation of new members that occurred during the second service; in a word, they were disconnected from the body.

I knew God desired us to be one unified church and I quickly looked for a way to wisely shepherd the congregation to that end.

In God’s providence, during one of our lunches, the ladies themselves brought up these concerns. One said, “I don’t know why we have two services. It’s like we’re two different churches. I think we should move to one service.”

That’s when I knew we were ready to make the move, much earlier than I originally planned. When I announced to our church that we were combining services, I was able to talk about these vital members’ faithful service for decades, along with their current ministry of prayer and encouragement. In God’s kindness, the transition to one service was seamless. Each Sunday, it’s a great blessing to watch one generation declare the works of God to the next.

I could keep going, but just one more thing will suffice. These ladies have taught our church what true gospel community looks like. They meet weekly in one of their homes to visit over lunch. They are deeply involved in one another’s lives. They encourage, support, and serve one another. And of course, those who are physically able actively serve in various ministries of the church. It’s a beautiful picture of how the body of Christ should work.


How might your church mobilize widows? How could you deploy them to strengthen your ministry?

Keith Collier

Keith Collier is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Groesbeck, Texas, and an adjunct preaching professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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