By Elizabeth Luter
Many women’s ministry leaders struggle with the question: Why is it so difficult to get women to care about others who do not have the friendship and support they enjoy on a regular basis? These reasons seem paramount.
1. We all enjoy comfort zones.
Meeting and assimilating new people into our groups takes effort. Those who study small groups say a new member causes a group to revert to the exploring stage, where members assess one another and wonder how vulnerable they can be. A group that enjoys a high level of confidentiality will move backward reluctantly. Adding new groups, rather than new people to existing groups, is one way to encourage growth without this disruption.
2. We still have our sin nature alongside our new nature in Christ.
Growing in love for others is a challenging task as we seek to become Christlike. We joke about the “me generation” and those who approach church like a cafeteria line, looking for what fills their cup instead of looking for opportunities for service. Ouch! We all feel the sting of our selfishness.
Women’s ministry leaders must hold up the ideal of service as the point of the arrow we are striving to reach in our programming and ministries. Information that is not applied in service becomes a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” if love does not motivate action (1 Corinthians 13:1).
3. Outreach sounds like “another thing” we add to already overpacked schedules.
Women may feel being asked to invite and nurture others adds a heap of guilt and another responsibility to overcommitted lifestyles.
Teaching the “as you go” concept from Matthew 28:19-20 helps women realize that God places them around people who need to be reached without their adding an activity to their lifestyles. Jesus reached people as He walked from place to place because He was sensitive to those around Him and always available to the Father when He sensed a need or opportunity.
Communicate that God has divine encounters waiting for each of us to discover day-by-day. We will have a difficult time engaging the world around us if our eyes are focused only on ourselves. We must challenge women at every opportunity to observe the needs around them and use what God has taught them to make a difference in His world as they respond.
This article is excerpted from Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level compiled by Chris Adams.
Elizabeth Luter is a pastor’s wife and coordinator of Women’s Ministry at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to organizing the women’s ministry program, she organized their Woman’s Missionary Union and served as president and coordinator.