In this interview, Director of AG Women Kay Burnett shares her personal passion for the Word, her team’s commitment to creating biblically based resources, and five tips for building Bible-engaged women’s ministries.
BEP: First off, you have a distinctive story of coming to faith in Jesus.
Kay: I grew up third-generation Assemblies of God (AG) and my grandparents were AG ministers, but I was saved after a Sunday School class at my AG church when I was eight years old. My teacher, the pastor’s wife, shared the Bible story of the widow who gave her two mites. The story came alive to me and I suddenly realized that she gave the Lord everything. I was completely aware that the Lord wanted my all–not just the money in the little purse I brought to church that day, but my soul too. I sat there on the edge of my seat. When class was over, I went to the altar by myself and said, “Lord, I don’t remember a time that I gave my heart to You. This is going to be a day that I always remember.” I just poured out my heart to the Lord. That’s the day I gave Him my life; I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday.
BEP: Tell us about your journey into ministry.
Kay: Well, it was my church family who really discipled me. I’m indebted to them. The church emphasized Bible-based preaching, and godly women of all ages mentored me, especially as a young adult.
My husband, Jim, and I became youth pastors when we were in our thirties. We served in that capacity for a couple of years and then we served as staff pastors. After these pastoral roles, we planted a church in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1999. We pastored there for seventeen years, and during that time the Arizona Ministry Network of the AG asked me if I would become the Women’s Ministries director. I accepted, and this was something I did while continuing to lead the church in Flagstaff with my husband.
I led Women’s Ministries in Arizona for eight-and-a-half years before I was invited to the national office. My husband and I came here in 2016.
BEP: After four years in this role, what do you love most about it?
Kay: I love the incredible opportunity to build resources that influence women to go deeper with Jesus by strengthening and deepening their spiritual roots. I just can’t imagine anything more inspiring than to be able to think about that while I’m here. I try to leverage any influence God would give me to move women to a place of greater intimacy with Jesus and to strengthen their spiritual foundation.
BEP: What is the AG Women team doing right now at the national office in terms of connecting with Scripture and creating biblically based materials?
Kay: Right now we are focusing on leading women to go deeper in their understanding and experience with the Word of God. We realize that the greatest need today is not more resources on how to do things in ministry. There are many resources already available on that topic–virtually unlimited resources through technology that can resource women in local churches.
The question we ask ourselves is, Are we as a national office team driving women to a deeper place in Jesus and with the Word of God? Because if we aren’t, then we’re failing.
We also create resources that emphasize and explain the Holy Spirit in terms of Spirit-empowerment. It’s one of our distinctives as the AG fellowship, and we’re not afraid to talk about it. We address the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the power of walking in the Holy Spirit. When we do this, we are giving women something they can’t easily find on the shelves or on the Internet. Again, great resources exist, but many of them do not acknowledge or emphasize the Spirit-empowerment that drives what we do.
BEP: If you’re having a conversation with a women’s ministries district leader, what would you say to encourage her to build a Bible-engaged women’s ministry?
Kay: I would say that simple things, really, are the most powerful.
- Share some details from your devotional life. The ministry leader should talk with her circle of influence about how she engages personally with the Bible. Earlier this year, I was encouraged by my team to create a Facebook Live video in which I just talked about how I engaged with the Word. It received overwhelming support and showed me that women just want leaders to talk about how they personally are seeing the Bible come alive.
- Share how the Bible is helping you walk through life’s challenges. If a leader is doing this, then she is counteracting the cultural view that the Bible is obsolete and not relevant for people today.
- Invite other women to share how the Bible is influencing their lives. Make it natural by just bringing up the Bible in normal conversation. Post something on Facebook such as how a verse that came up in your devotional time really spoke to you. Businesspeople do something similar when they post business principles, and celebrities do this when they post spiritual principles. Let’s lead by posting biblical principles.
- Offer biblical resources at district events so that people of influence can take these resources into their communities. Offer strong Bible studies that emphasize the Word of God and Spirit empowerment.
- Challenge the leaders around you to offer Bible study resources that infuse small groups with spiritual substance. Yes, we need the fun and the fellowship, but we want to infuse times together with spiritual depth, too.
BEP: As far as content creation, what is coming down the pike for AG Women?
Kay: We’re continuing to focus on building small-group Bible studies from a Spirit-empowered perspective. And with that, we are creating two new curricula: one for young professional women in local churches and one for urban women. As to young professionals, these are women right out of college or in the first decade or so of their professional lives. We don’t seek to separate them out, but to root them in local churches. And the urban woman faces a lifestyle with different challenges than a curriculum from say, the Midwest would address, so we want to craft Bible teachings that are specific to her setting. We’re in the planning stages for both of these curricula, building out scope and sequence. We see that these are gaps in local churches, demographics of women who aren’t being reached as effectively as they could be. And these resources have to be driven by the Bible. If not, we’re just creating an interesting topic that isn’t going to impact women’s souls by bringing them closer to Jesus through His Word.
BEP: Please share from a personal standpoint the importance of engaging with the Bible.
Kay: It’s more important to me to have my time with the Lord, my true “daily bread,” than my physical food. If I have to skip one, it’s going to be the physical food. I don’t feel that I can have the thoughts I need, the words I need, be the person I need to, take the steps I need to, if I don’t make the daily time to take up my cross and follow Jesus. It’s hard enough to not just have a human reaction to things; we need to react to life in a way that reflects spiritual realities. I need my time in the Word desperately—and that will never change. I really can’t do a day without time in the Word. I don’t say that to ever make someone feel guilty; I just know I can’t go a day without it because I don’t know where I’d be. I need it like air and water. If I don’t have time in the Scriptures, I feel like too much of the heaviness of the world, its influence or discouragement, will weigh me down. The Bible is what calibrates and recalibrates me. I expect for God to speak to me when I sit down to read it, and I expect to read something that I can apply. I have that expectation because He’s been doing that in my life for so many years. If I didn’t expect the Word to wash me and convict me and encourage me, I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d do.