Reaching women means aiming at moving and multiple targets.
| posted 6/14/2006
2. Women's quest for content and spirituality. Sherry Stahly, coordinator of women's ministries for the Rocky Mountain Conservative Baptist Association, developed a Needs Assessment Survey to identify churched women's concerns. Initial results show an increased interest in spirituality. She comments, "The survey assesses needs in areas such as self-esteem, emotions, parenting skills, and relationships. The responses we've collected thus far show the greatest interest lies in personal spiritual growth."
Pat Wilson verifies this: "I'm finding that whether the woman works outside or inside the home, she wants something challenging to ponder. She doesn't want something 'just for fun' or entertainment; she wants programs that offer something meaningful."
What Is Working?
What are we to do with these challenges and changes? Some churches continue with traditional sewing circles and bake sales, while others experiment, offering ministries such as video-style Bible studies in the marketplace. Some churches try a general-interest approach, inviting all women to quarterly Saturday brunches. Others slice the pie more thinly and attempt to promote programs and activities for specific women in a variety of situations.
A number of strategies transcending differences in church size, available resources, or types of women are working.
Remember your mothers. Women's ministry leaders are nearly unanimous: mothers' groups work. Some ministries target mothers of teens, employing a variety of formats in doing so. "Ours is mostly a support group," says one leader. "We don't have speakers, since our purpose is primarily relational. So far, we find it to be effective." Another says, "The mother of a teenager has very little discretionary time since she is often working outside the home or going to school or volunteering in ministry. Ministries for this stage of a woman's life must have a strong purpose."
"I need prayer for my kids and support for myself," said still another.
Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), another ministry to mothers, intends "to provide a Christ-centered, caring ministry for mothers of preschoolers that develops friendships, creativity, and personal relationships with Jesus Christ." When asked about the success of this international ministry, executive director Elisa Morgan says, "It works. It's an outreach ministry that is practical and need oriented. We've identified ten needs of preschool mothers and created a program to match."
In a typical bimonthly morning meeting, women socialize over coffee, complete a craft, hear a speaker, and meet in discussion groups. In addition, MOPS ministers to the children, not merely baby sitting the preschoolers, but offering a Bible lesson as well.
Moms in Touch, a nationwide organization connected with Campus Crusade for Christ, offers another model of ministry to mothers. Their emphasis is spiritual: the weekly format includes ten minutes of prayer requests for children, followed by 45 minutes of prayer.