Running on Empty: The Gospel for Women in Ministry
by Barbara Bancroft
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As women, ministry pushes us to moments of insufficiency, exposes our weaknesses, and tests our patience. Some days it feels like a little more sleep, a lot more coffee, and a pat on the back might sustain us. But down deep, we know these things can never fuel our ministries.
Positive without being cliché, Running on Empty presents the realities of vocational ministry with humor and hope. Author Barbara Bancroft draws from her experience as a missionary woman and pastor’s wife to demonstrate how the gospel must be our message to ourselves as well as others. Along the way, she confronts the “mythic ministry model of Proverbs 31” and other stereotypes and expectations that hinder women from enjoying and displaying the gospel each day.
Running on Empty’s down-to-earth, humorous writing style reaches out to weary women reluctant to read another book on ministry. Offering more than crisis management tips or how-tos, Running on Empty reorients women’s hearts and minds to the joy of belonging to Christ and being a part of his kingdom work.
Ideal for small group discussion or personal reflection, Running on Empty stretches beyond burnout prevention strategies all the way to joy and purpose in ministry.
Barbara Bancroft began ministry life with her husband Josiah in 1976. Since then she has worked with him in church planting, missions, and as a pastor's wife of a large church. While her husband Josiah oversees missions at Serge, Barbara mentors and encourages the many missionary women and pastors wives they meet with all over the world.
"We can teach the gospel without it reaching us because we feel the need to prove our sufficiency in order to justify our leadership in the church. Barbara Bancroft urges us to live beyond the clichés we impose on ourselves in order to live in the freedom of the gospel that will set free the women and men we lead."
Bryan and Kathy Chapell, Authors of Each for the Other: Marriage as It’s Meant to Be; ministering at Grace Presbyterian Church, Illinois
"Thank you, Barbara, for taking the time to write to us. You identify the struggles of women in ministry and point us to the Truth. Even for women who have studied Scripture, you make this book fresh and hopeful. To be comfortable in our own skin because of Jesus—yes, it is possible."
Ed and Sheri Welch, Author; faculty member at CCEF (Ed); administrator at Bridge Community Church, Glenside, PA (Sheri)
"Running on Empty is simply the best book Darlene and I have ever read on the 'raptures and ruptures' of vocational ministry, and the radical implications of God’s grace for wives and women who are seeking to serve Jesus. As an adjunct faculty member of five seminaries, I will now require this book, not only for the women in my classes, but for every man who is presently or plans to get married; for men need to understand, not just the privileges of ministry, but also the setbacks and heartaches women face—things they 'didn’t sign on for.' Darlene and I got married in 1972 and never thought we would wear the couple title, 'pastor and pastor’s wife.' Barbara’s book would have been a gift of invaluable benefit to us, not only as we began our ministry, but through every stage of our shared life. Filled with gospel wisdom and personal anecdotes, beautiful honesty and the hope of grace, Barbara throws the spotlight on Jesus’s love and the freedom he intends for all of us who are passionate to serve him."
Scotty and Darlene Smith, Ministering at West End Community Church, Nashville, TN; formerly ministering at Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN
"Barbara Bancroft is passionate about her need and the need of the women to whom she is writing to stand firm in the truth when we are tempted to get sidelined by our sin, or the sins of others. She is very honest about her own weaknesses and failures, but knows there is no help outside of going to Christ daily for forgiveness, and to trust again in the power of the Spirit to continue to reach out to a needy and broken world."
Rose Marie Miller, Missionary to London; author of From Fear to Freedom and Nothing Is Impossible with God
"Women in ministry face unique challenges and this book is uniquely helpful. It offers real hope to women who are worn down by the demands of ministry—hope based on the good news that Jesus has paid it all and done it all. After I read this book, this old pastor's wife felt encouraged and strengthened by the good news of who Christ is and what he has done for me and those I serve. If it could help me, it will help anyone!"
Barbara Miller Juliani, Pastor's wife; author; editor
"I’m not a fan of Christian books, so I was surprised to discover laughter and tears as I read Running on Empty. With a rare economy of words, Barbara pinpoints the rumblings of our soul, names the unidentified issues, and compassionately takes us to the one place we can be filled. If you’re a woman in ministry, work with one, or know one, this book is for you."
Shari Thomas, Founder/Director of Parakaleo
"In Running on Empty, Barbara Bancroft utilizes personal insight and transparent humility to highlight topics of interest for women in ministry. Whether co-laboring with a husband or single, women in ministry often do not know what they do not know. Barbara sheds light on this for all of us. With captivating stories and heart-probing questions, she helps women navigate issues like entitlement, comparison, worry, and self-pity. Her words are comforting and encouraging. While reading, I felt as if I could have been sitting in Barbara’s living room, sipping tea, listening to her tell her story, and soaking up her wisdom."
Daniel and Mandy Montgomery, Ministering at Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, KY
"Barbara’s remarkable book will help you answer many hard questions: If I do marry a pastor, what will my life be like? If I am already a pastor’s wife, what do I need to remember about Jesus to survive? But much more basic and blessed for all of us, is that deepest issue of all: how do I put together the blessedness of Jesus in my life with all the hard things that threaten my faith? This book is honest and genuine, and points directly to Jesus in many unexpected deep ways."
D. Clair Davis, Professor of Church History Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary
"Barbara is the real deal. She doesn’t just give advice on ministry; she invites you into the journey with her toward the overflowing pool of reliance and nourishment that is God’s Word. Barbara’s book is full of gutsy grace and loving transparency . . . we wish we’d had the courage to write it."
Rev. Dr. Stephen and Berenice Rarig, Church Planting Team Leader, Mission To The World; cofounder Trinity Theological College, Perth Western Australia (Stephen); Founder, Coordinator MAKE Collective (Berenice)
"Please don’t buy this book . . . unless you want real help for real women in real ministry. Barbara Bancroft has that rare blend of rich ministry experience without the accompanying cynicism or Pollyanna-like attitude that affects so many of us. Instead, she offers us a voice that whispers behind us, 'This is the way. Walk in it.' Barbara Bancroft doesn’t tackle all of the exegetical conundrums of Scripture in relation to women. She doesn’t intend to. Rather, she elucidates and, with humor and humility, illustrates sound principles of gospel application which have been proven in a variety of cultural contexts. I’m thankful for this book. It will help not just women in ministry, but ministry marriages like mine."
John F. Thomas, Director of Global Training, Redeemer City to City