What Women's Ministry Can Be
Recently I joined an intergenerational women's group. Five of us are in four different generations. We have different backgrounds, hometowns, and church experiences. Some have children; others don't. One woman has grandchildren. Despite our differences, we gather every Thursday night to grow together.
A few years ago this group would have been a nightmare for me. Not because this particular group is strange or the women are scary, but because I hated women's ministry. Or at least I thought I did. I'd been part of women's groups before that reeked of shallowness and gossip and high-pitched voices offering Sunday school answers for real life issues. These groups were cliques and used cattiness with pride. I continually felt as though I was in a competition for best outfit with everyone else in the room.
And then there were the stereotypes of women that they lumped everyone in. They assumed I love girly-girl things just because I'm a woman. (I actually went to a retreat once where the speaker wore a bright pink feather boa and had her hair in a ponytail that stuck straight up out of the crown of her head. She demanded we do the same—to tap into our feminine side—if we wanted to get anything out of her message.)
But most of all, I hated when the leaders and members of the group would tell young women that the highest calling in life is to be married, that their mission was simply to wait for Mr. Right to come along and sweep them off their feet.
I hated women's ministry because I'd had poor women's ministry experiences—sorry excuses for the deep, relational, and supportive thing women's ministry can—and should—be.
So I quit women's ministry.
But when I got married more than four years ago, I began to cherish my female friendships more. While my husband is an amazing listener and cares about what I'm going through, he'll never understand some things in the way another woman can. As I grabbed lunch or coffee with my girlfriends, I started to catch a vision for what true relationships with Christian women look like: loving, supportive, challenging, and encouraging.
Then I started to catch a vision for all that women's ministry can be: an intentional gathering of women who love the Lord, who want to celebrate life together, hold one another accountable, and pray for one another. (Oh yeah, and pink feather boas are never mandatory.)
So I decided to give women's ministry another try.