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3 Key Shifts that Could Change the Face of Women's Ministry

3 Key Shifts that Could Change the Face of Women's Ministry

I couldn't understand why so many young women in the church weren't attending women's ministry events. Then I started asking questions.
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As a small child I remember tagging along with my mom to women's ministry meetings to spend the morning in the church basement making quilts and knitting baby items for missionaries across the world. When this work was done, the women of mixed ages would gather around the table enjoying warm pieces of apple cake as they packed the items, sealing each box with brown packing tape and prayer. Sister Ella, the women's ministry leader, would paint a picture with her words, asking God to bless and protect the families, using the items to bring a bit of joy and helping them extend their reach. Sister Ella wasn't an eloquent prayer leader, but her simple words and heartfelt tears made an impression on my young heart. I wasn't even sure what a missionary was, but I knew they must be doing something important and that they were loved.

Women's ministry has come a long way. Such a long way, that I wonder if we've turned 180 degrees and are now facing the opposite direction.

Women's ministry has come a long way. Such a long way, that I wonder if we've turned 180 degrees and are now facing the opposite direction. For many women's ministries, what started out as a gathering of women finding practical ways to help others has turned into elaborate retreats and Bible studies focusing on helping the women in the room.

Are Bible studies bad? Certainly not.

Are retreats a waste of time? No way.

But why then are so many younger women choosing not to get involved in the women's ministry at their church?

I've spent some time asking Millennial women this exact question, and they've shared honestly. A young mom with two kids and a full-time job candidly told me, "I don't have a lot of extra time to spend away from my work or family, and when I do, I don't want to go to another tea or meeting that focuses on me. I want to use my time to make a difference."

The conversation made me think of all the times I had planned events focusing on what I thought might bring women to an event and arranging the details around what I thought would help them grow. I didn't realize that she might want to invest her time beyond our church walls to touch someone else's heart and life. It made me feel as if I had somehow missed the point of what women's ministry really is all about, and it made me begin to ask some questions: What if we thought about a paradigm shift in women's ministry that moved our thinking from what our women need, to what God is calling them to do? What could our women's ministries look like if our focus wasn't on developing the women inside the church but releasing them to come alongside the ones outside, helping another woman take her next step toward Christ, even if it's a step no further than she is herself?

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Sherry Surratt

Sherry Surratt is the CEO and President of MOPS International. Follow her on Twitter @SherrySurratt.

Sign up for TCW's free e-newsletter, Lifework with Diane Paddison, for biweekly updates and encouragement for women who desire to pursue God through their calling and career.
From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2014, July Week 4
Posted July 23, 2014

also in this issue

July Week 4
More Than a Bake Sale

More Than a Bake Sale

How can we help women grow in their walk with God?
Feeling Like a Misfit in Women's Ministry

Feeling Like a Misfit in Women's Ministry

Why do so many women's ministry programs miss the mark?
Why Leaders Need Mentors Too

Why Leaders Need Mentors Too

You're stronger when you don't try to lead on your own

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Cyndee Ownbey

August 02, 2014  8:01am

The church where I last served (we moved 7 months ago) began an outreach into a local woman's abuse shelter. The changes in the women that were involved in that ministry were visible! Our women were excited to go into the house to love on those women. We also invited those women and their children to come to events at the church. A familiar face made all the difference! Getting outside the walls of our churches is exactly what Christ is calling us to do! On my blog I share what I believe are the 4 pillars of Women's Ministry - service, social, study, and support. I think the key is to make sure we are offering all 4. When we do them outside the church walls amazing things happen! (If you want to read more... http://womensministrytoolbox.com/role/) Sherry, so glad to see you are encouraging women to think differently about how they are "doing" women's ministry!

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Bonita W

July 29, 2014  6:58am

Thank you this article. It makes me both sad and joyful. Sad that for all these years women leaders have missed the basic of Christ's teaching to 'Go', not to stay within our 4 walls. Joyful that the model may be changing. I am a baby boomer and an overseas worker. My heart prays for women and the church to Go Forth wherever God has planted you and share the Good News. The young women are right - Let's make a difference!!

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Diane Paddison

July 27, 2014  10:40am

Dear Sherry, Thank you for sharing the shifts in desires amongst the women in our churches. At www.4wordwomen.org, we are seeing a huge shift as 71% women with children under 18 are working outside of the home at least 75% of their 40 hour work week (US Bureau of Census 2010). This requires us to think about women's ministry very differently and at different times than the past or we are only meeting the needs of 29% of women who have children under eighteen. It is great to hear amongst the women attending church that they are more interested in serving others. So exciting! Thanks so much for sharing! With respect and appreciation, Diane Paddison

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