For the past couple of years, I’ve made an attempt at predicting a few future trends in the area of ministry to women. While the word “trend” may not be in Scripture, there is the encouragement from Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.” In other words, it’s important for us to know the times in which we live and be ready to minister and share the gospel in that context.
The word “trend” can be defined as “the general course or prevailing tendency” or to “tend to take a particular direction.” In other words, the trends in this list aren’t really rocket science. I don’t have any super powers to know these trends with complete accuracy, but they are based on conversations I’ve had with leaders and our LifeWay trainers. Several of these are from 2017, but they continue to make an impact in the way we minister to women.
1. The name of Women’s Ministry will most likely be more generic and fit into the overall purpose of the local church. No more cute names. No more cute slogans. Think of Ministry to Women—not Women’s Ministry. Women’s Ministry seems to point to a “program.” Ministry to Women seems more inclusive for all women. Every woman has the calling to minister to other women. Titus 2 and the mandate of passing our faith to the next generation is just as relevant today as it was to the early church.
2. There will be more women at the church leadership table. I definitely fall into the complementarian camp for women’s roles in the local church, but there will be increasing opportunities for women’s voices to be heard. Women add diversity to the discussion and their intuitive insight is being valued more and more. I mentioned this trend last year, but it continues to garner attention.
3. Women are leading the way at many seminaries, and they are looking for ways to use that training. Again, I mentioned this trend last year, but it continues to grow. According to the data submitted to the Association of Theological Schools, SBC seminaries saw a 12 percent increase from 2012-2016 of females enrolled in graduate-level degree programs. For more information on this trend, check out this article from the Christian Index.
4. Women will be change-makers in their community through non-profit ministries, entrepreneurial enterprises, and marketplace evangelism. The former missions ministry found in the local church will look outwardly to global and local community needs. Selling jewelry from developing countries to leading adoption ministries, women have always been at the forefront of missional living, and this will continue in the years ahead.
5. Women will have a need for deeper counseling needs. Addictions, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, gender identity, and many other “hot topics” mean churches must develop resources and networks for women who are struggling. And if they aren’t in crisis, their children and grandchildren are. Ministry to women includes messy ministry, and the church must reach out to women who are hurting.
6. The continuing rise of the millennial generation and understanding Generation Z. Thirty-somethings are taking their place as leaders, and you can bet it will drastically change the way we work and the way we do church. Not only will you see millennials fill leadership positions, but you will see a need to understand the next generation—Generation Z.
7. On the other hand, there is a growing need for grandmothers. Younger women are actively seeking wisdom and maturity. They may not have living biological grandmothers or they may not live near them, but there is a big generation of Baby Boomers who are still healthy and have much to offer. Not only will younger women want spiritual discipleship, but they want to know how to cook and even how to throw a shower for a friend.
8. The dichotomy of free resources vs. high dollar quality. There is a growing need for free digital resources, but women aren’t afraid to pay high dollars for quality print materials. They will look for subscription services and personalized products they can Instagram. Look for more online Bible studies and Facebook Live videos.
9. Women want deeper community. They love the words authentic, transparent, and relevant. They will find this in small group discipleship opportunities. This need provides an outlet for mentoring, but also small group accountability.
10. There will be an increase of single women in the local church. They will get married later, and they will need biblical teaching in the areas of sex, dating, and confronting same-sex attraction. They are waiting later to get married—not necessarily by choice. As one of my single trainers said, “Remind people of the biblical perspective of singleness as a viable option, not a disease.” If you aren’t including single women in your leadership team, you are missing close to half of the women in your congregation.
Maybe you are seeing something different in your area. If so, please add your comments. Finally, if you want to know the cultural topic of 2018, look no further than Great Britain. Whether it’s the popular series, “The Crown,” a new royal baby, or the impending wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, if you want to connect with women, just mention the royals. You’re welcome.
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.