A note from Chris Adams: Sometimes we get frustrated as women’s ministry leaders when we cannot get young moms to participate in spiritual activities like Bible study and outreach. Perhaps we need to rethink what that looks like! Dr. Deb Douglas, Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA has worked with moms for years. She shares some new ways of looking at ministry through the eyes of a mom.
First a note:
Women’s ministry has been a part of my life for 37 years. Wait. Actually, I have to revise that statement. I have actively led in women’s ministry that long, but women’s ministry has been a part of my life since before I was born 57 years ago! My mom taught Bible studies in our home. As a child I would sit outside the open windows, letting her words fall down on me. I believe in ministering to women and the unique needs of women. I am not jumping on any blogosphere campaign against women’s ministry. I am looking for realistic answers.
Chatting with my women’s ministry friends, there seems to be a trend of moms not being involved in women’s ministry.
Why is that?
It’s not because they are lazy, or uninterested in their spiritual growth. It is much more complicated. The world most moms live in is chaotic, overwhelming, and demanding. There is a desire in the hearts of moms to participate, but the need to keep their family from drowning in life’s busyness is the prominent demand on their time. Women’s ministry may be seen as another drain on the precious moments of time.
For example, a young mom just left my home. It’s 9:00 p.m. on a Monday night. She ran by daycare to pick up her almost one year old, and came for help with a term paper for her college classes after a long 12-hour day of work. Fortunately, I had leftovers from supper for her to gulp down as I taught her how to research more efficiently. And this was a typical workday for her and her child. Her day was not over, the term paper demands another 1,000 words before morning when the beginning of her routine
How can women’s ministry draw moms like this in?
- Change expectations. Every woman does not have to participate in every woman’s ministry event. Putting pressure on moms to be at everything you offer drives moms away. Offer options, not demands.
- Change definitions. By changing how we define participation in women’s ministry, we make it sound less overwhelming and demanding on a woman’s time. If a mom has found her niche is serving in the church’s preschool area, then women’s ministry for her may be watching an online Bible study late at night after the kids are in bed. Even though she’s alone, she’s still participating in women’s ministry. Or what about the busy grandmother, sandwiched between caring for her parents and her children? Participation for her may be reading the weekly email newsletter.
- Change methodologies. Doing the same things the same way does not work. That means offering a variety of Bible studies written by a variety of writers and using creativity to design new types of events. Try new things.
- Change the world. Be sure to include mission opportunities, trips, and projects that will change the world. Younger women love to see that time invested has tangible results! Don’t just collect items for children around the world; take a mission trip there! Don’t just talk about sex trafficking; visit the local jails and dance clubs to get to know the women being trafficked.
And then there are the practical things to always do:
- Decorate less. Focus on what is important rather than spending time on decorations that have little impact on the lives of women.
- Keep it short. Short events and Bible studies fit more easily into a mom’s life.
- Keep it casual. There is enough competition among women that creates barriers. Keep women’s ministry a safe, casual, and competition free zone.
- Spend time listening to moms about their lives. Design the women’s ministry to meet the real needs of moms and women.
Women’s ministry and the busy lives of mom can coexist! When we as women’s ministers change our attitude about fitting into the lives of moms, the women’s ministry becomes more attractive to them. So get out there and make changes that will change lives!
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.