A couple of years ago, I read a letter written by Christian blogger Sarah Bessey titled In which I write a letter to Women’s Ministry . Demonstrating a fair amount of chutzpah and little restraint, Bessey delivers a scathing critique of the traditional women’s ministry model that so many of us have either created or consumed.
She takes aim at the Bible studies and special events (complete with craft projects and dried-flower centerpieces) that have been the hallmark of women’s ministries for generations. She paints an insipid picture of these cornerstones of women’s ministry and calls for fewer frills and more authentic personal interaction, inspiration, and meaningful dialog. She pleads for experiences that are profoundly impactful for the many educated, competent, and compassionate women who are starving for spirituality and real community –those who would rather talk about salient issues of justice than learn how to decoupage. She calls for change.
Let me be clear. I am not a proponent of any straight-talk that delivers mortal wounds to the dedicated directors and volunteers of the many traditional women’s ministry programs housed in the world’s churches. They work hard and do their best and deserve our gratitude for the many days and nights they plan and prepare, receiving little or no compensation and even less appreciation.
I do, however, recognize wisdom and truth in Bessey’s letter.
She dispenses a bitter pill, but it can be restorative if you can choke it down, let it settle, and digest it fully.
I’ve thought a lot about that letter since first reading it and have reviewed numerous research articles that validate Bessey’s analysis. Even as I continued to lead women’s ministries down a traditional path, I wasn’t convinced that it was having optimum impact on the women that I had been entrusted to serve.
It was time for change. Not just a little tweaking around the edges, but wholesale change that would result in a tectonic shift.
Last summer, armed with a handful of questions, I asked an impressive group of women to meet with me with the expressed purpose of reimagining women’s ministries. All group members are between the ages of 30 and 40 years, each possesses a solid faith foundation, and every one of them is a skillful navigator of the deep waters that 21st century women are thrown into daily. Our discussion would drive the design of a new ministry mix for the women of our church.
We began by simply identifying the characteristics of today’s women agreeing that they are by and large:
In terms of relationships, these women
They pick their battles carefully and are not likely to lose sleep over worship style, argue over the décor for the mother’s room, or worry about whether there are flower arrangements in the Worship Center ladies’ room. They care deeply about:
When asked what they need from one another, this group pointed to authenticity, vulnerability, support, and accountability for spiritual growth. What they want from an organized women’s ministry is:
So, here’s the thing. These very smart, very humble, and very gentle women were ever so graciously asking for consideration of a new paradigm for women’s ministries, one that is built around a handful of very important concepts.
So, we’re changing it up at Grace and this Website is the first step.
This site has been designed to serve as a conduit of expression for Christian women who are hungry for meaningful interaction and want to join with others to experience real spiritual and personal growth.
This will be a safe place to chew on issues that matter to us and share truth. Here, we will seek and find answers together. We will make each other laugh and put away unrealistic expectations about our kids, our bodies, our husbands, our homes, and our jobs.
Here, we will encourage and gently remind one another to be thankful.
We will discover and read books in common and discuss how we can use what we’ve learned to make the world a better place.
We will share information about interesting conferences, and gather our friends together to buy tickets and share rides and hotel rooms, and then talk about how the conference has changed us forever.
Most of all, we will be a community of women who know one another, love one another, and keep watch over one another so we can become all that God intends us to be.