A View from the Crow's Nest: Trends in Women's Ministry
A crow’s nest is a perch at the top of the main mast on a ship. The person sitting in the crow’s nest is able to keep a keen eye on the horizon to spot hazards, other ships, land, or impending changes that could impact the forward motion of a ship. The one sitting in the crow’s nest has a unique viewpoint.
Serving at Southwestern, I have the unique vantage of having a type of “crow’s nest” perspective. From the sharp young women who are students here, to the opportunities to regularly minister in the local church, to the intentional networking with other seminaries and denominational agencies, I can see that there are changes coming on the horizon for ministries to women.
Here are some of my observations from the Women’s Ministry “Crow’s Nest:”
Women’s Ministry may not always be called “Women’s Ministry”
For the next generation of women coming up, that is our twenty- and thirty-somethings, the title “Women’s Ministry” paints a particular picture in their minds. For many, their first thoughts are, “That’s my mother’s ministry.” For others, they have visions of tote bags, Coldwater Creek jackets, and Ladies Night Out. None of these are bad; it is just not how these young women view themselves. Consequently, they may call ministry to women something else, and that’s okay. It’s not what the ministry to women is called; it is what the ministry to women does.
Technology will play a bigger, ever-changing role
We are now in a technology-driven world and technology will continue to play a bigger role in ministries to women. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Insta-gram, text messaging, SKYPE, etc., can all be used to connect with women in different life stages, schedules, and needs. Knowing how to use these appropriately for Kingdom work will keep a ministry to women moving forward in connecting with women in their world.
Cross-generational relationships are critical
Even with the growth of technology, women still want connection with other women. Younger women are especially expressing an interest and desire for cross-generational relationships. Today, young women are “spiritual orphans” who need “spiritual moms” to teach them how to live as the women God intends them to be. Unfortunately, we are also seeing a resistance of our “older women” to invest in the younger. Solve that issue, then stand back and watch God work!
Bible study still rules…but it may look different
The growth of women’s ministry can be traced back to a surge in women’s Bible studies and Bible study will continue to be the center point for ministries to women. While there is still a time and place for video-driven Bible studies, the younger women also want to have a live, face-to-face teacher. They are interested in hearing and developing Bible-based beliefs, many requesting verse-by-verse, expositional Bible studies. Even when video-driven studies are used, women do not want just a facilitator, but someone who can help them learn how to apply biblical truths to their lives today. Here’s another related trend: Bible studies may not happen at the church on Tuesday mornings or Wednesday nights. They will happen in coffee shops, homes, restaurants, online . . . anywhere and any time women can gather.
Women want purpose and intention with some of the “girly” thrown in
In the past, women’s ministries have been accused, sometimes rightfully so, of being a fluffy, party ministry. (Think tea parties!) Today there is a greater focus on ministries (not just activities and parties) or events with a clear emphasis on spiritual growth, not just entertainment. That doesn’t mean the gals don’t want the pretty, girly decorations, but whatever event is offered, it has to have a bigger purpose. There is too much vying for our time and attention today to go to a party just for the sake of a party. It must be a party with a purpose.
In the midst of these changes and trends, there are some things that are clearly holding course. Here is what will continue to anchor a healthy ministry to women.
1. Women still have the same needs: Granted, it may look a little different in the context of family and culture today, but we still need to:
Reach women for Christ
Nurture them in their faith
Involve them in Kingdom Work
Engage the next generation
Support the ministry of the church.
2. Women still have the greatest influence on the home and family: A ministry to women that recognizes this and equips women to use that influence with a Kingdom focus will see ripples of influence for generations to come.
3. Women still have a key role in the church: Women are the worker bees of the church and a ministry to women that helps women to understand they have been created, gifted, and commanded to serve will not just fill a need in the church, but help a woman grow spiritually. This continues to be one of the key ways a ministry to women moves a woman from one who is becoming a disciple to a true disciple-maker herself.
Keep your eye on the horizon.
There are great days ahead for woman-to-woman ministry. But, be ready. It may not be called “women’s ministry” ten (or five) years from now and tote bags may one day be passé. What we will continue to see are women who need Jesus, need to be discipled, to know God’s Word, and to be able to serve their home, their church, and their community.