Book Review: Preaching That Speaks to Women

Book Review: Preaching That Speaks to Women May 18, 2024

My guest today is Hannah Beasley, a recent grad of Dallas Seminary who shows us how good books don’t have to be new releases.

book cover to Preaching that Speaks to Women

Imagine a pastor who walks on stage, preaches a sermon, and ignores half his congregation. Alice Mathews* argues that a similar scenario occurs on most Sunday mornings. On average, women comprise over fifty percent of our congregations, yet so often pastors and teachers fail to consider how gender differences impact the reception of their messages. Alice Mathews’s Preaching that Speaks to Women provides valuable insight into various struggles women face, exhorting church leaders to more effectively reach half their congregation.

Many women have grown accustomed to male-dominated services. They deal with sports illustrations, bible translations that use “mankind” instead of humanity, and pastors referring to the congregation as “you guys.” Many women also struggle to find their place in the church. They can lack the support and empowerment needed to use their spiritual gifts or to step into leadership roles. Consequently, they fail to engage in the life of the church. Mathews addresses these issues and more.

Mathews challenges pastors and teachers to consider a variety of factors as they craft their messages. For example, a preacher may struggle to relate to a single, working mom, fighting to put food on the table; but he can still preach with empathy and effectiveness by applying the timeless truths of Scripture with mindful illustrations. He must think about the singles, elderly, mothers, working professionals, and the various socio-economic situations of the individuals in his pews—and please, resist the tired sports analogies. Additionally, Mathews states that a growing number of women in our post-modern society want to be challenged in how they engage with Scripture. They don’t want a preacher to simply tell them what the text means. They desire to wrestle with Scripture for themselves and then apply it to their lives.

Going beyond the pulpit, Mathews challenges church leaders, whether male or female, to recognize the ways women experience self-doubt, stress, marginalization, powerlessness, and other perennial struggles. The world misses out when women underestimate their abilities. They can naturally limit their potential and refuse to embrace how God uniquely designed them. Pastors have the privilege to empower women to leverage God-given gifts and participate in his mission in the world.

Written in 2003, many of Mathews’s statistics and insights have inevitably evolved. Rapid cultural changes require a fresh look at the data to illuminate any variances and ensure effective application. Yet, many of her points remain advantageous for church leaders. Overall, Preaching that Speaks to Women powerfully explains many of the struggles and frustrations of the women sitting in our pews and reveals how teachers can grow in better serving their congregations. Church leaders will leave Mathews’s book inspired to more intentionally impact the female half of their congregation.


Hannah Beasley is a wife, mom, and writer based in Austin, Texas. She recently graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts in Christian Education. Through writing and teaching, Hannah desires to help others grow in their relationships with God and others. You will also find her baking gluten-free treats, hosting others at home, or traveling with her family. Find her on Instagram at @hannah__beasley.

*No relation to Estuary owner Kelley Mathews (me).

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