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Not Your Mother's Church Social

3 fresh ways ministry leaders are reaching out to women today.

Lacy tablecloths and flowery centerpieces. A light brunch and "special music." After a speaker encourages everyone with uplifting words, attendees peek under their chair to look for a sticker. Surprise! Those with a sticker get to take home a centerpiece.

Sound familiar? It should. I've just described a women's ministry "tea," and it's a staple at most churches. But while many women enjoy these traditional gatherings, others seek events that are more challenging, unconventional, or relevant to the life they lead. Fortunately, there are some fresh and fun approaches to women's ministry out there to inspire your church's events. Here's a look at three.

1. Gone to the Dogs

What's the most exhilarating feeling you can imagine? How about fresh, icy air blowing around your face as you race faster and faster along the ground? Now imagine you hear your girlfriends laughing, even shrieking with delight. And on top of it all, you realize you're doing something totally amazing. What would turn this scenario into a reality? Dogsledding!

Sue Lennartson is the women's pastor at Eagle Brook Church in Minnesota, which has more than 8,000 regular attendees. Sue and her team provide many traditional events for the women who prefer them. But she admits to lurking in the halls of her church and listening to the women who say they long to be shaken out of their comfort zones, to be stretched by an adventure that challenges them to grow. That's why she decided to plan a dogsledding trip, the first of what promises to become an annual adventure-oriented event.

Just so you're clear, Sue is not a twentysomething who spends her summers backpacking in Europe or rock climbing in the Alps. She's a 60-year-old grandmother. But she is willing to push her comfort levels aside. "I believe we need to put ourselves in situations where something is going to happen. We need to take a few risks," Sue says. "God works through the unexpected and the uncomfortable."

Guided by that gut instinct, Sue gathered a group of 16 women last winter and headed out for a four-day trip in northern Minnesota.

"We were led by professional mushers, and every single woman had the experience of dogsledding. It was something none of us had ever tried. At night, after a full day of dogsledding, skiing, and snow shoeing, we went to a log sauna right next to the lake. We dug a hole in the thick ice, held onto a tree branch, and took a 'polar dip.' And," Sue gasps, "that was very challenging. But we tried it—and it was great!"

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