It seems I missed this awesome post by Amy Simpson on August 28th, titled "Why I Don't Do Women's Ministry." Like the Invisible Christian Women post at the TCW Editor's Blog, this also addresses the complicated culture of women's ministry. And while you might not agree with Invisible Christian Women or this particular post, it's definitely worthy of your consideration.
It’s been a long time since I attended a women’s Bible study, luncheon (why don’t they just call them “lunch”?), or anything else just for Christian women. I’ve spent enough of my life feeling bored, self-conscious, and out of place (think junior high gym class).I more than identify with this post....I've made the same complaints, same assessment and have asked the same questions. Are we taking the next step? What is the next step? I want to see this discussion continue because it will help to free more women who participate in women's ministry, to know that they don't have to conform to a certain image. Biblical or Christian womanhood, or whatever you want to call it, necessitates a high view of Scripture, an understanding of Christ's holiness, man's sinfulness, the precious gift of redemption, etc., but it doesn't require that we all take an interest in similar things and lead similar lives. I believe the culture of women's ministry in the local church is shifting. More are being stirred to speak out on the blogs about this culture, more Christian women's writers are doing more than supplying fluff, and more and more women are entering seminary and phd programs in order to serve women in the church(not a requirement of course, but quite refreshing). What are you doing to include more women and shatter the stereotypes?
In my experience, the people who plan these events make all kinds of assumptions about who I am as a women. For starters, most assume I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom (and the best time of day for a meeting is, of course, 10:00 in the morning). They also seem to believe I enjoy making refrigerator magnets, spend most of my time thinking about fashion and chocolate, and can think of nothing better than getting away from my husband and kids (even though I’ve been at work all day) and hanging out with my “girlfriends.” This isn’t me—at all.
I used to think I just didn’t fit. Somehow I wasn’t like most women, and this probably had something to do with my spiritual life, so I should try harder to fit in. Now I realize that’s not true. In fact, the funny thing is, I don’t really think I’m a misfit. Most women I know feel the same way I do about women’s ministry programming. I know that women’s ministries do connect with many women and provide important opportunities for growth. But they seem to be focused on serving a relatively small segment of the population. So I wonder: Why do so many of our women’s ministry efforts treat women as if they all have the same lifestyle, schedule, goals, affinity for June Cleaver, and penchant for pink roses? And why are we expected to call ourselves “girlfriends”?
I don’t mean to undermine the importance of women’s ministry, or trivialize the effective ministry that’s happening in many churches. But by and large, I believe our churches are running shallow, one-dimensional programs that miss important opportunities to minister to many women.