Last month, I wrote an article about Why I Don't Do Women's Ministry. It sparked quite a conversation. Obviously, women have some strong feelings and opinions on how to do women's ministry - and about their experiences in women's ministry programs.
This conversation was so lively and challenging, I knew I had to write a follow-up post in the hope that it will generate some ideas for how we might make women's ministries more effective.
Mostly, I'd like to hear your ideas. But in order to get this conversation started, let me share a few of my own:
1. Recognize that women are not all the same. Those who are called to women's ministry have their work cut out for them. It's not an easy job to minister to such a diverse group of people. But anyone who wants to appeal to women in general must recognize that women come in many different shapes and must create programs that appeal to more than one type. This is the same for any demographic group in the church, but perhaps most of all for women. Our lifestyles, circumstances, and preferences are so diverse. Not everything has to appeal to every woman - but if NOTHING about a church's women's ministry program appeals to a particular woman, she'll quickly get the message that she's not OK and not wanted.
2. Respect women's intellectual abilities. Too often, we seem to buy into the world's lie that we are purely emotional beings, at the whim of fantasy and hormones, and not smart enough to go deep. God created us to feel and to think. Our souls hunger not only for the presence of God, but also for knowledge of his truth. Ministries that focus only on women's emotional needs or that stay on a shallow level are doing a disservice to their women and to the larger body of Christ. And they're failing to reach many women, who will never be engaged by a ministry that does not challenge their intellect.
3. Recognize that women are not just wives and mothers. Women aren't required to fill these roles in order to see God's purpose for their lives. I'm both a wife and a mother, but if I were neither, God's calling on my life would not go away. It's pointless to ignore the importance of these roles in the lives of many women, but we must acknowledge that women are unmarried, childless, divorced, single, struggling with infertility, focused on their careers, and everything in between. They're all important to God, and none of them should have the impression that God's plans don't include them.