Why It's Your Job to Break the Women's Ministry Stereotype
I remember the day I parted ways with the old model of women's ministry. I was sitting in a hotel ballroom full of women. The speaker shared a gut-wrenching testimony that elicited a few sniffles from the crowd, which gradually grew into sobs, which snowballed into full-on emotional meltdown. It was exactly the kind of thing men imagine happening when women get together. I didn't like it at all.
In retrospect, my younger self was arrogant and naïve in that moment. Women need healing from the Lord, and sometimes a good cry in a safe space is spiritually restorative. That aspect of ministry is necessary and valuable. Even so, I couldn't ignore the part of my spirit that wanted more. That yearning has persisted ever since, and it is present in the hearts of many women I know today. Emotional forms of ministry have their place, but women in the church are eager to move beyond emotion, and beyond the surface.
Blogger Emerging Mummy recently captured this sentiment in her impassioned post "In Which I Write a Letter to Women's Ministry":
But I'm here with you tonight because I want what the world cannot give me. We're choking on cutesy things and crafty bits, safe lady topics and if one more person says that modest is hottest with a straight face, I may throw up.We are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability, not churchified life hacks from lady magazines. Some of us are drowning, suffocating, dying of thirst for want of the cold water of real community. We're trying really hard - after all, we keep showing up to your lady events and we leave feeling just a bit empty. It's just more of the same every time.
But she is not the first to express such concerns with women's ministry.
Several years ago author Wendy Horger Alsup wrote a post titled "Pink Fluffy Bunny Women's Bible Studies" in which she criticized the "emotional fluff out there masquerading as Bible study." Alsup, I should add, works hard at demonstrating an alternative to spiritual milk. She writes in a manner that is consistently theological, thoughtful, and faithful. She is a wonderful example of the change she would like to see.
Undoubtedly, the younger generations of women want a different kind of women's ministry, one that is Christ-centered, biblically based, and kingdom oriented. However, Alsup's example also highlights a tension in the very term "women's ministry." On the one hand, Emerging Mummy has consistently encountered a model of women's ministry that is deeply troubling when she would like to see something else. Here is what she writes:
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