CDM Releases “Alongside Care” Handbook for Ministering to Women in Crisis
By Megan Fowler
Alongside Care

Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash.

In every church, there are godly, mature women who are eager to strengthen the body of Christ. There are also women who need godly counsel and support in the face of physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles.

A growing number of church sessions are empowering the mature women to come alongside the hurting women. To help more churches develop a vision for this type of ministry, PCA Discipleship Ministries (CDM) has published “Alongside Care: A Vision for Churches to Care for Women in Crisis.” 

The book is a collection of essays written by ministry leaders who run such ministries at PCA churches. The purpose of “Alongside Care” is to help women in ministry and church sessions develop a vision for what alongside care could look like in their context. Alongside Care

In the first chapter, Christina Fox offers a definition of alongside care that frames how the book approaches the ministry: “Alongside Care is the ministry of a spiritually mature woman speaking into the life of a woman in crisis, bringing the light of the gospel into the darkness of her struggles. It is a targeted, intentional form of discipleship.” 

Fox serves as the general editor for the essays in “Alongside Care.” Along with being the author of several books and content editor for CDM’s enCourage blog on women’s ministry, Fox also coordinates the alongside care ministry at East Cobb PCA in Marietta, Georgia.

As she prepared for launching the ministry at East Cobb, Fox reached out to other women’s ministry leaders who led similar ministries at PCA churches. As a result, she tweaked some of their approaches to suit the needs at East Cobb. 

When it came to writing a book on this type of ministry, Fox wanted the elders and women’s ministry leaders to hear from leaders at big churches and small churches; and from those in cities as well as in the suburbs. 

The nine chapters in “Alongside Care” cover a range of topics from why the ministry is vital to how to train women for the ministry to managing the ministry as it grows.

Women Serving Alongside the Session

CDM Coordinator Stephen Estock believes the ministry will more fully utilize the gifts of women within the PCA’s complementarian framework. That, he says, is good for the church and good for women. Estock wrote a chapter in “Alongside Care” titled, “How Does Alongside Care Fit with Church Polity?” 

“I see Alongside Care as an opportunity to capture a vision for something that is fully within our vision of complementarian ministry,” he told byFaith. “In order to shepherd the congregation well, elders need the voice and perspective of key women in the congregation. I say this from experience as a pastor.”

Estock noted that the elders are accountable to the Lord for how they lead, but also how they use the spiritual gifts of the women under their care. Alongside care is a ministry of blessing flowing both ways. It’s trained, mature women in the church coming alongside women in crisis, mentoring and walking with them as they face difficult circumstances; it’s also a ministry of wise women providing perspective to the church’s leadership. 

Estock said such trained, mature women can serve as “translators,” explaining church processes to women in difficult situations and helping elders and pastors understand how their words might be perceived in sensitive situations. 

When confronting issues like infertility or a miscarriage, it could be awkward for a woman to share details with her pastor. Fox noted that women in these situations need safe people in the church that they feel comfortable going to. An alongside care ministry provides women who can advocate on behalf of vulnerable women.

Elders are accountable to the Lord for how they lead, but also how they use the spiritual gifts of the women under their care.

“Having mature women of the faith – women steeped in the Word, women who know what it’s like to walk through seasons of hardship and see God’s grace in their lives – having those women ready and available to come alongside is a great resource,” Fox said. 

Alongside care ministry can also help churches care for the abused. Estock said that if a church wants to improve its response to abuse, “they need to engage a cadre of women and train them.” “Alongside Care” serves as a primer designed to get a church started and prompt discussion through questions at the end of each chapter.

“Developing and maintaining a well-trained Alongside Ministry is a vital part of preventing, recognizing, and responding well to abuse,” said Tim LeCroy, pastor and chairman of the PCA’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Study Committee. “I recommend that all churches use this resource … and that all church leaders receive training on the dynamics of abuse.” 

Estock hopes that “Alongside Care” will prompt more PCA churches to develop these types of ministry to improve the shepherding ministries of the church. “At the very least, I want PCA churches and leaders, male and female, to begin to discuss these issues. I hope God will use it to make us a denomination fully committed to his Word but truly caring for all the members of the congregation,” he said. 

Fox wants churches to develop a desire to serve women and “answer this call of Scripture to bear one another’s burdens.” 


Scroll to Top