Women’s Ministry: something near and dear to my heart. While I am no longer a director of a women’s ministry (I served in that capacity when we lived in Iowa), I am involved in the ministry to women at my church as a lay-leader, heading up a small group and working on various committees as the needs arise. I love serving women; it’s definitely the direction in which God has pointed my heart.
I will admit to sizable frustration as I participated in the two discussions that prompted my survey. It’s difficult to hear that churches of considerable influence in their communities (and beyond) are cutting back on programming that “feeds” half their “flock”. As I read through the comments, I was thrilled to hear that there are still many of your churches that are moving forward in this time where putting on the brakes is more the norm. Some of you felt that while your church was offering connection points, there was a general lack of interest in participation; still others felt that “busyness” was getting in the way of people stepping up to lead. Certainly, none of these are new problems, if you’ve spent any time at all around the day-to-day workings of the church!
However, the more people I talk to (both in person and in the blog community), the more I’m seeing a break-down of sorts within Women’s Ministry specifically. During the last of my two conversations the other day, God reminded me of something:
In short, satan HATES women. Further, he HATES her offspring – those whose heritage brought about the birth of Christ, the One who “crushed his head”, and those that came after, and are still to come, that will believe in Christ. I felt the Lord telling me that satan has a special interest in our church’s ministries to women, specifically.
If you really think about it, there are some key advantages to this strategy. With a breakdown in our WM, women…
- Become isolated from the support and fellowship of other women (satan does some of his best work when we’re isolated)
- Are more likely to stray in their walk without the accountability of others
- Aren’t as “healthy” of mind and spirit without the community of believers and connection to other Christian women
- Aren’t as likely to grow deeper in knowledge and truth if left on their own for private study
If this description of disconnected women comes to fruition, several things can happen…
- The “heartbeat” of the home changes: A woman sets the tone of the home; if she’s not being fed and connected to God through the church, it WILL filter down to her family.
- Because she’s not filling herself up with God, a woman will likely raise her expectations of her husband to fill her in ways of which he’s not capable – a HUGE marriage stress.
- A woman will be less likely to train up the next generation in the “way he should go”, if she’s not seeking the way herself.
I realize that there is an amount of personal responsibility in all this. As several pointed out, not every woman will come, even if there are a lot of choices. Still, it’s my belief that, if this happens, or, as is currently an issue with the economic downturn, it’s not time for the church to pull back. If we cut back on our offerings for connection, where else will women go? They are able to go to outside conferences and retreats less and less, with the down economy, so if they have less offered at their church, they’re really stuck. No, it’s not time to cut back; it’s time to take a stand and fight back against an enemy who is strong and determined, but already defeated. Anything he gains is whatever we hand over to him. The fight may be hard, but entirely doable with a lot of prayer and a little creativity.
So, what can we do? Here are a few ideas:
- Speak up. If you’re not in leadership or on staff, volunteer your services. Don’t wait around for someone else to do what you wish would be done. Bring your ideas to the table with a plan on how to inexpensively execute it.
- Put together a brainstorming committee. If your ladies are showing a lack of interest, shake things up! Open your home to those who would like to see something more in your church and start throwing out ideas that can be taken to the leadership, and again, be willing to help carry it out!
- Take advantage of outside resources. I know of a small church that is using a tool called Girlfriends Unlimited. For a nominal fee, they are receiving new, fresh, proven ideas to keep things current and interesting, along with lots of tips and other resources. Womensministry.net is also an excellent idea resource and had a great monthly newsletter.
- Consider using fee-free speakers. Every church in which I’ve ever been involved has had women that are willing to share their stories. Take advantage of those in your own church body to speak to your women. There are also great speaking ministries that work strictly on a love-offering/expenses basis, such as Speaking Thru Me Ministries, Freedom’s Call, and many of your favorite bloggers.
- Always incorporate new people. I’ve found (and I’m sure you have, too) that it’s often the same people that are putting together all the events. That’s a two-fold problem: The people doing everything get resentful and burned out, while the people that would like to help don’t volunteer because they never feel like there’s an opening. It also tends to create monotony in events and a decline in attendance over time. Try rotating your committees for larger events that take a lot of planning (if you serve, then you take a year off before you can serve again). This keeps everyone fresh and not overburdened, while allowing new people with fresh ideas to continually come in, keeping everything current. Either step up or step aside and spread the blessing!
- Get personal. If your problem is a lack of interest, put together a group of women who do nothing but call other women and personally invite others to come to your church’s events. Place women with fliers at the doors of your church to personally greet and invite them. A personal touch often bridges the gap.
- Pray. Obvious, but still important to mention. While many of us have prayer teams over our specific events, few have a prayer team that prays for our women’s ministry and it’s leaders on a regular basis. We need to be interceding on behalf of our women and the enemy that is losing not a single moment in their pursuit.
It concerns me that we, as women, have a war being waged
against us in our own churches and we’re not in the fight. Many of us are sitting by, waiting for the church to “do something”, but are unwilling to ask how we might help make it happen. Certainly, we may come up against opposition and we might not make any headway, but shouldn’t we try? Let’s get out there – after all, the quality of the spiritual lives of our women, and thereby their families and marriages, hang in the balance.
Melinda this was such a well written post. Very insightful indeed. I have been the leader of my women’s ministry and never thought about this considering all the opposition that came against it. Thanks for writing this.
I hear you loud and clear. Just last summer I offered a home bible study as our community study follows the school calendar. There were 10 of us in my small little tv room, but we came hungry. It is only the first of March but I’ve already been asked if I would do this once again….but there is a strong possibility of more than 1o. My Girlfriend and I have already decided to open it up to who-ever would like to attend and we are blessed to use her church. We see the need and are heeding the calling. May we continue to step out and UP for God.
This was a great post!! I agree completely that now is not the time to hold back on Women’s Ministry. As a Women’s Ministry Director and speaker/writer, I know that you have to be creative and resourceful in what you offer.
Thanks for such a beautifully written post.
Fabulous tips, Melinda! I do what I can on the home front, but would love to start a smaller group study in my home, maybe with young mothers or college-aged girls. I’ll be praying. I’ve also started speaking more outside the local church when asked. A great growing for me on a personal basis for so many reasons.
LOVE you. I’m sending some of my friends over to read this. 🙂
Thanks for the plug!
Melinda — preach it, girl! The enemy has women in his crosshairs. Call out to Christ to save your women! I’m crying out for the Lord to save our women’s group!!
You have great tips and Girlfriends Unlimited looks like a blast! I’ve used some of their materials and it’s good stuff.
Melinda, thank you for having a heart for women.