Nuggets and Nudges – Ideas 4 Women’s Min.

dscf0086-cropped-2.jpg As we weave in and out of threads concerning women’s ministries let’s keep in mind that W.M. leaders have their work cut out for them.  It’s not possible for W.M. leaders to meet all of the varied needs and demographics out there: stay at home moms, working moms, working women with no children, single women, divorcees, widows, women who like frills, women who don’t, those who like sports, the outdoors, quilting and crafting, “fluff” vs. deep Bible studies, light social gatherings and so on.

No one can design a single program or ministry to meet all those needs all the time.  Likewise, ALL women need to step up and serve where they have passion, gifts, and calling.

My point: If you’re dissatisfied with what constitutes “women’s ministries” at your church, would you prayerfully consider that maybe God is nudging you to fill that hole, bridge that gap or start something new?  How is He calling you?

Here are a few nuggets to mine in women’s ministries:

—  A Christian Women’s Book Club that meets regularly to discuss life-changing books.  (I have a list, but it’s about 20 pages long!)

Practical Service –  Service and ministry are a vital part of who we are in Christ.  As believers we need to be regularly “giving out” as well as “taking in.”  (Too often the alternative is bloated, stagnant faith.)   What about helping out at a local crisis pregnancy center, library, senior center, or food bank?  If your church supports missionary families, adopt one.  Remember their special dates.  Organize a Christmas in July activity for those who are far from home.  Do likewise for a military family.  (The base chaplain can be a great resource.)  Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child are personal favorites (see my blogroll for more).

Women’s Sports Leagues. This could incorporate outreach, exercise, and team-building.  Possibilities include organized hikes, round-robin tennis, volleyball, softball, flag football, basketball, badminton, table tennis tournaments.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to fence.  What about a group membership or a class at the YMCA?  How ’bout getting a few interested and able ladies together twice a week or so for some power walking – elevate the heart rate and the conversation.  (I personally am not comfortable with co-ed sports/athletics, but teaming up with some women?  That’s different.)

Biographical studies on selected saints.  To get started: Corrie ten Boom, Gladys Aylward, Elisabeth Elliot, Eric Liddell, Husdon Taylor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Saint Augustine, George Mueller, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Amanda Smith, John Bunyan, Elizabeth Fry, Cameron Townsend, David Zeisberger, Festo Kivengere, Jim Elliot, etc.

Who were they pre and post-conversion?  How did they come to Christ?  When?  Where?  How?  Why?  Character qualities?  How did God use them?  How did He prepare them?  Personal applications within a Biblical framework?

A study of church music and hymnologyA Mighty Fortress was originally sung to a tavern tune! What else can we learn from the composers, lyricists, and rich doctrine evidenced in so many of the great hymns of the church?

— A topical study on The Theology of Suffering.  Start with Job and go from there.

— I would love to join some other ladies and learn more about classical art and music, including life studies on the artists: Michaelangelo, Vermeer, Monet, Manet, da Vinci, etc.  I’m a sucker for all things Puccini  and Bach.   I love Italian opera.  I’m starting to get the hang of Gustav Mahler.  If an artist was a believer, how did it affect his or her art?  How about getting a group of women together and taking a night (or other) class on the subject at a local community college?

— A monthly or quarterly “chick flick” night.  (Somewhere in Time, Sense and Sensibility, Sleepless in Seattle, etc.)  Take turns choosing favorites.  Bring finger food or munchies.  Rotate babysitting responsibilities as necessary.

— A study of Biblical leadership.  Flesh out some different leadership styles.  What is and isn’t Scriptural?  Learn, develop and apply or sharpen analytical and critical thinking skills.  Discover how to detect error and false teaching without being a jerk about it.

— Christian apologetic and current event discussions from a Biblical worldview.  (BTW, what is “a Biblical worldview”?)

The ABCs of Friendship – How to Make, Keep, and Cultivate a Real Friend.  A great place to start?  Dropping Your Guard by Charles Swindoll.

Conflict Resolution Skills 101. What does the Bible say on this subject?  How, why, and when to resolve a conflict, heal wounds, restore an offended party?  Why forgiveness and restoration are two different things.

— What about helping women form intentional mentoring relationships with each other? I don’t necessarily mean the typical “Titus 2” deal – pairing up “olders” with “youngers.”  One resource I recently came across listed 12 different types of mentoring possibilities/capacities, everything from “intense” to “casual.”  The goal is building God-honoring, rich relationships for mutual encouragement, support, accountability and spiritual growth.  Many women are looking for mentors but don’t know how to ask for one, get started, or keep it going.

— Organize a monthly Parents Night Out. Each participating couple takes turns watching other families’ kids for 3 or 4 hours on say, the first Friday of each month.  Draft responsible high schoolers if additional child care is needed.  Charge a nominal fee per family to pay your high schoolers for their time.  Have families pre-register so an appropriate amount of snacks or acitivities can be planned.  Childcare responsibilities rotate depending on number of participating couples.  Mom and Dad can look forward to one night out together each month.

— Shift the semantics. Words mean things.  “Women’s ministry” can carry lots of baggage – stereotypes, misplaced expectations, misperceptions, etc.  I personally feel the tag “women’s ministry” is vague, amorphous and anemic.  In some contexts it’s almost meaningless.  I like the idea someone pitched about changing “women’s ministry” to “We: a Movement of Women” – or something similar.   Aw heck, I kinda like the sound of Semper Fi Sisters.  (It’s a Marine thing.)

A final note. Realize that women’s ministries are easily susceptible to church-based cliquism.  When launching any new idea, event, ministry or small group, make it clear that the endeavor is open to all interested women.  Nothing will kill “women’s ministries” quicker than selective participation or “by invitation only” events where some women are invited and others aren’t.  Keep the doors open.

Pay special attention to no-shows.  When a regular attender suddenly drops out of a ministry, small group, or Bible study for no discernible reason, see that for what it is: a red flag.   Don’t let her disappear off the map without gently inquiring why.  There’s usually a reason.  Most women will respond if someone cares enough to inquire.  (See Matthew 18:15- 17 for more.)

Be responsive to concerns and address any complaints promptly and openly.  Be prepared to flex, adjust, and revise as needed.

Christians are in the business of making disciples and reproducing spiritually. Thus, leadership in women’s ministries shouldn’t be a closed loop or a self-perpetuating entity.  (That’s not “leadership,” that’s stagnation!)  If a reliable, responsible woman indicates an interest in and an ability to lead, invite her to join your team.  Don’t shut her out just because she’s not a certain age or within a specific demographic.  Mark it well: Women with leadership skills will go elsewhere rather than be bored in a “ministry” that’s unable or unwilling to use their gifts and skills.

Aim high. When considering a new mnistry, small group curriculum or Bible study, resist the temptation to begin and end with Gerber’s.  Spooning out spiritual baby food may seem like a good place to start, but realize that some Christian women may be far beyond Gerbers, and thus bored to death by endless rehashes of Bible Basics 101.  There’s nothing wrong with reviewing the basics from time to time, but don’t forget to offer meat to those women who crave solid food.  Rather than catering solely to young believers, strike a balance with offerings for both new and more mature Christians (the former approach can come off as condescending and patronizing and may backfire badly).  Take feedback and suggestions from your “best and brightest” seriously.  If you don’t engage these ladies, you’re likely to lose them.

Avoid burn-out. Ask God to guide you to other like-minded, available women with similar passions.  Don’t go it alone.  As always, bathe everything in prayer.

***

For related discussions, check out:

Cleaver & Conundrums: Why I Don’t Do Women’s Retreats

Fully Souled or Fully Sole?

Ministry to “Other Women”

20 Ways to Kill a Small Group (or women’s ministry)

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These are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling.  Now it’s your turn.  What are your ideas?



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5 Responses

  1. Thanks your message has very much helped me:)

  2. First-Class post.Follow up the great work,You must definitely have to keep updating your site

  3. Thanks for the feedback. Glad you appreciate the post.

  4. Hi Deanna,

    You sure are doing amazing things with your site. Have not had time to drop by for a while. Hope all is well in your corner of the world!

    Blessings,

    Ruth

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