November 17, 2007

Ministry to the Other Women

No matter the size of your church, you have an idea of what works for your women's ministry, so much of what we do is "safe." Everyone enjoys the holiday tea, the cozy bible studies, and the efforts to use chocolate as a tool for building strong community. I'm not opposed to these events and quite enjoy the opportunity to excuse myself from the monotony of the every day and the ever-so stressful tyranny of the urgent. But enough about me....

There are many kinds of women who our ministries will never reach, so we shouldn't be too quick to beat ourselves up. But in my experience and based on the emails I receive from women, their are women in the church who are available and capable to reach out to women with more intellectual interests. If there are women in your church or on your women's ministry team who have an interest in this area, don't write them off - set them up to succeed in this area of ministry.

Today, women are excelling in higher education and our women's ministries just are not equipped to reach them. Many of these women simply are not available for Wednesday morning bible studies, have little time for retreats, and feel out of place in women's ministry settings as they currently exist. But there are ways to impact these women. Create opportunities to challenge their mind and not just their heart. This can be done through book discussion groups, apologetics studies, and Bible studies that do more than scratch the surface. Go to events at local colleges, coffee shops, and community forums and see what women are discussing. I guarantee they are not talking about how to make homemade baby wipes. They want to know how to identify truth, live authentic lives that help others, and live a life of integrity in spite of the uphill challenges women still face in our society. They want to know how to serve God in ways outside of the kitchen and nursery. God gifts women in many ways, and some of us just don't have a clue about hospitality.

These women, like many other women I know, are uninterested in being emotionally vulnerable, they want to discuss the reasons for their beliefs - or even the reasons for your belief. We live in a world where it seems very likely that a woman is about to become President of the worlds greatest superpower (whether we like it or not), so women are expecting more. With an uncompromising Gospel message of Christ, sin and salvation, let's meet the 21st century women where they are at.

Join the Facebook group
Out of the Box: Fellowship of Intellectual Christian Women for more discussion and ideas on these and related topics.

4 comments:

RosalieG. said...

I like the point about it being "to other women". I'm not one of the intellectual types, nor am I one that likes to go and do crafts. I'm kind of the emotionally vulnerable type. But I'm also into empowerment.

So I guess just as there are a variety of churches to meet a variety of tastes, there should be enough different opportunities to reach different types of women.

I'm wondering, Sarah, if the key point here is "talk"; or "discussion". You also mention "challenge their minds". Is the key in presenting the right discussion material? Or is there also a component of taking action on what is discussed?

What would the payoff be for the woman you talk about? What would they do with all that is discussed?

Sarah J. Flashing said...

Lots of questions! Where do I begin?

You said: "I'm not one of the intellectual types, nor am I one that likes to go and do crafts. I'm kind of the emotionally vulnerable type. But I'm also into empowerment."

I know I need to do some work in this area...the term 'intellectual' is far more inclusive than it seems. I'll be sure to blog on that soon.You can also see my post on the Church Lady for more on this.

You said:"Is the key in presenting the right discussion material? Or is there also a component of taking action on what is discussed?"

I believe this is primarily a content oriented issue. There are some in women's ministry leadership - in a prominent position - who believes the issues with women's ministry today are stylistic and not content oriented. I disagree. There is always an application component or, in my opinion, it's not helpful ministry.

You said:"What would the payoff be for the woman you talk about? What would they do with all that is discussed?"

The payoff would be her ability to resonate with the discussion, to show her that the Christian faith (and women's ministry in particular) can be satisfying to her intellectual life. We always talk about meeting people where they are at, and that seems to generally exclude the thinking woman. The intellectual male has many outlets within the Christian community, few are as available for women. Outreach to women in the community and discipleship to women in the church can and should be more than what we are doing, and one need not be an emergent to recognize that this is the case. I'm so glad that you are coming back to the blog :)

RosalieG. said...

I'm slowly being walked over the bridge to understanding. When you wrote the "outreach" part, a bell went off.

I'd been investigating working or volunteering in a local Women's Resource Centre. One in the opposite end of the city is supported by churches, and assists a variety of multi-cultural, and native indian cultures, new moms, seniors and so forth. Because it invites participation from churches I thought I might fit in. The one closer to me states in all it's ads and documents that it is feminist viewpoint, and welcomes gay, lesbian and transgendered women. Some of the topics of courses they offered are things that would be foreign to the average church going woman - such as what to do when your lesbian partner beats you.

There is a whole spectrum of the world we are not interacting with and are afraid of. You are right, we cannot expect to attract any of these women with teas and testimonies.

Sarah J. Flashing said...

Rosalie, what a challenging ministry opportunity! I will pray for you in those efforts. One issue the church needs to wrestle with is how their women are entering into relationships with the unchurched and if the women's ministry is helpful toward those ministries. I believe there is great value in equipping the women at church through the women's ministry to engage in the kinds of ministry that you mention. It's not happening, however, even thought I believe that to be the task we've been called to.