It’s been a long time since I was a member of my high school’s Pep Club. I’m not sure they exist any longer, but it was a source of enjoyment and a source of conflict in my teen years. I never missed a football game, always wore my uniform on the right day at school, and was committed to being the best Pep Club member I could be. I even ran for a Pep Club office, only to be outvoted every time I tried. I wasn’t the most popular girl in the club, but because I was one of the few members who supported spring sports, I was voted Springs Sports Queen my senior year. Until a few years ago, I kept the tiara to prove it. In short, I found a place of belonging. I found a place of recognition. I also found a place where there were cliques and competition.
Unfortunately, many of our churches are filled with women’s ministries that look more like a pep club than a ministry or source of biblical community. How can you tell?
Your women’s ministry might be more like a pep club than a ministry if…
- Everyone looks like the leader. They are the same age, same economic status, and maybe dress the same way. If this sounds familiar, first consider those on your leadership team. Do you have a variety of ages and stages in life? Do you have new believers as well as those who are mature in Christ? Pray for diversity and balance. If you attend your next event and everyone looks the same, you might not be reaching everyone.
- Women in your church see the women’s ministry as something only a certain group of women are part of. Strive to design a ministry where every woman sees herself as part of what is happening at your church. Create an “us” mentality instead of a “them” mentality. Ask yourself, “If I were visiting this church for the first time and asked about women’s ministry, would women respond that they are part of what is going on?”
- Events focus on the external and not the internal. Is the focus of your event about the decorations or the food? Does the centerpiece matter more than the heart of the woman who comes? I’m all about beautiful things because women are drawn to things of beauty, but don’t forget the purpose behind what you are doing. Are you concerned about helping women move out of their comfort zones and looking to the needs of the world? As one of my friends once said, “Our women’s ministry is really good at buying coats for people in need. We’re just not good at putting coats on the people who need them.” Let’s be ministries where we put the coats on those who need them.
- Do you use language or terms that could be interpreted as a secret code? Don’t assume all the women in your church are well-versed in theology. Provide opportunities for women to grow in their faith no matter what stage of life they are in. Some may be new believers. Some may be immature in their understanding of the Bible. Some may not feel comfortable praying out loud. Encourage women to grow in their faith together, to disciple one another and to look for ways to dig into God’s Word on all levels.
Do you have something to add to this list? If so, I’d love for you to comment on ways your women’s ministry combats the club mentality. I’ll be cheering you on as I hang up my Pep Club letter jacket.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.