The purpose of my new book, What Women Wish Pastors Knew, is simple: "To help today's pastor better understand women in the congregation so the pastor can better minister to them."
My research included survey responses from women ages 18 to 92, working both at home and outside the home in numerous occupations, high school to Ph.D.-educated, married and single, with and without children/grandchildren, and from more than 30 denominations. My mailbox, and email box, were overwhelmed with an unexpected avalanche of responses! (I'm onto a new project: What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew. If you'd like to help your pastor share - confidentially - hopes, hurts, needs, and dreams with church members, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a "Pastor's Survey.")
When I reported the survey responses to groups at the National Pastor's Convention this past February, they listened eagerly, stated some shock at the findings, and pelted me with hard-hitting questions.
I knew I had hit a nerve.
Researcher George Barna calls women "the backbone of the Christian congregation in America." Without women, he writes, "Christianity would have nearly 60% fewer members." I have discovered that George Barna is right on target!
So what did I find?
1. Women are tired. Almost every returned survey included words like "exhausted," "stressed-out," "too much to do," and "worn out." We're trying to juggle too many jobs at once. Author John Eldredge writes in Wild at Heart: "Walk into most churches in America, have a look around, and ask yourself this question: ?What is a Christian woman?' Don't listen to what is said, look at what you find there. There is no doubt about it. You'd have to admit, a Christian woman is tired."
2. Women are hurting. I often received eight to ten pages of hand-written letters from women describing personal painful situations. They mentioned infertility, a child's suicide, an unmarried pregnant teenaged daughter, "post-abortion syndrome," a parent with Alzheimer's Disease, and childhood sexual abuse. They described deep depression, thoughts of suicide, spouse abuse in their marriages, husbands with "dirty little secrets" and secret addictions, the pain of divorce or becoming a widow, intense loneliness, etc. They begged for biblically-based counseling - with another female - sponsored by the church. They also yearned for a church-supported network of women to "tend and befriend" them.