Are women satisfied with their church experience? New research indicates the answer is yes, sort of. In short, it depends on the woman and it depends on the church.
Three-quarters of churched women say they are making the most of their gifts and potential (73%) and a similar proportion feel they are doing meaningful ministry (72%).
Assessing their influence, more than half say they have substantial influence in their church (59%) and a slight majority expect their influence to increase (55%).
But the poll also shows that many women have a very different experience of church, "frustrated by their lack of opportunities at church and feeling misunderstood and undervalued by their church leaders," the survey says.
About a third (31%) say they are resigned to low expectations when it comes to church. They feel under-utilized (20%), limited by their gender (16%), under-appreciated (13%), and taken for granted (11%).
"Although these represent small percentages, given that about 70 million Americans qualify as churched adult women, this amounts to millions of women in the U.S. today who feel discouraged by their experiences in churches," the survey concludes.
LJ Takeaway: Whatever your church's theological position on women in leadership, create opportunities to listen to the women in the church, empower them for ministry, and show appreciation.
—with data from Barna.org
Weddings on the decline
Fewer weddings on your church calendar these days? Here's why: The number of newlyweds in the U.S. continues to decline.
4.2 million adults got married in 2011, down from 4.5 million in 2008.
That's an all-time low of 36.4 newly-marrieds per 1,000 people, a decline from 41.4 per 1,000 over a four-year period.
The drop is greatest among lesser-educated people. College grads are more likely to get married than high-school dropouts are (55.3 vs. 23.1 per 1,000).
To ponder: How might this affect church life and ministry in the coming decades? Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll publish what we learn.
—with data from Pew Research Center
Exit Stage Right
The best exit strategy as a leader in a ministry is a sound empowerment strategy. If you are unable to empower others to do the job, you will never be able to leave well.
—Neil Cole, Church Transfusion (Leadership Network, 2012)
Copyright © 2013 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
Click here for reprint information on Leadership Journal.