I recently received an email from a women’s ministry leader who wanted help in how to connect the younger women to the more seasoned ones to serve in and through the church. There are many articles under the Leading Young Women and Generational Ministry categories that might also help, but today I wanted to share the response I sent to this concerned and caring leader:
Be assured, according to Scripture there has always been and will always be some form of ministry to and with women (Titus 2:1-3, for instance). But it has continually changed (in format, not biblical principles) over the years and I believe that is what most younger women are crying out for — change.
My generation did the flowers and lace and it worked well for us. But it doesn’t work for younger women. They like graphics that are more contemporary and edgy. How you portray your ministry speaks loudly, so as you plan consider what will work for a broader range of women.
We had access to in-depth Bible study for the first time that encouraged us to get into small groups and study together. We had not had that opportunity previously. Young women today want to study, but they also want to do (and not necessarily in that order). Many younger women grew up watching church members who studied, but often failed to go out and “do.”
I was in the generation of big women’s events. Younger women are not always drawn to these events unless there is an obvious purpose. Often they seek purpose that leads to helping those outside the church.
We who have served in ministry a long time must not take it personally if millennials are not drawn to the way we do ministry. And we need to remember it’s not our ministry anyway — it’s God’s! Often young women hear “women’s ministry” and think of their mothers and grandmothers. They want to do it differently and often they want to call it something different. We saw this with the title “women’s ministry” as it was birthed 25 or 30 years ago in an effort to reach women leading and serving at that time.
Young women feel compelled to change their world before they leave it. That means they are ready to go get their hands dirty. The flip side of that is often it’s not done in conjunction with the gospel. Therefore they need more seasoned women helping them connect serving others with the gospel. And we have to encourage them to balance action with growing in Christ.
I believe dialogue with various generations of women in your church can be incredibly connecting, opening doors to reach cross the barriers between them. Just asking women to tell you what they would want to change is opening the door. Listen to them; ask them to listen to each other in the room. Pray together and seek ways to reach each other’s generations.
Invite young women to plan something they think would attract their peers and allow them be creative. Ask the right questions as they plan to guide them, but also give them freedom. If they fail in something, just support them and let them learn from it.
I pray that, as leaders, we will seek ways to create connections across all the generations.