Growing up, my mom used to be part of our church's guild. This was the Catholic version of women's ministry you'd traditionally find in the Protestant church. I recall her doing occasional service projects, but it was the annual bake sale that left the most lasting impression on me. I'm not sure where the proceeds from it went, but boy, could those women bake!
Women's ministry today probably hasn't changed all that much in many churches—Catholic or Protestant. Ladies still gather for service projects, sponsor bake sales for a cause, and enjoy regular fellowship with other women. While this satisfies a need for some women, many others wish their church's women's ministry program quenched a deeper thirst and left more of a mark.
Sherry Surratt, a TCW featured contributor and CEO of MOPS International, wondered why very few younger women seemed to be participating in the women's ministry at their church. She started asking questions, and the answers surprised her. One young working mom of two kids told her, "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."
Sherry shares some of the other findings she made in her article, "3 Key Shifts that Could Change the Face of Women's Ministries." She challenges churches to rethink the way they're doing women's ministry.
This should make TCW regular contributor and Gifted for Leadership editor Amy Simpson happy. In "Feeling Like a Misfit in Women's Ministry," Amy says, "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."
She believes we can do better. "Why don't we challenge each other? Why don't we take ourselves seriously? Why do we alienate so many women with our ministries?"
Not everyone agrees with Amy's assessment of women's ministry. "Though I concur with Amy's overall sentiment, not all churches underchallenge women," says Kelli B. Trujillo in her article, "Women's Ministry: Don't Judge a Tea by its Doily." At Kelli's church, the women's ministry has stretched her to think globally, especially in the areas of compassion and justice for under-resourced people. "10 Ideas to Take Your Women's Ministry to the Next Level" offers fresh ways to challenge and inspire the women in your church.
Sometimes what a women's ministry program needs isn't fresh ideas as much as a fresh leader. And one of the best ways for a leader to "freshen" up is by finding a mentor to help breathe new life into her. Jo Saxton, an editorial advisor for TCW and director of 3DM, a discipleship/missional movement for churches, shares her wisdom and experience in "Why Leaders Need Mentors Too." If you're feeling burnt out as a ministry leader, or you need an infusion of insight and encouragement, a mentor may be just the solution. Or maybe a slice of cake.
Peace as we strive to find meaningful ways to serve one another,
Marian V. Liautaud