Below you’ll find the show notes for episode 70, Bridging the Generation Gap: How to Engage Younger Women in Your Women’s Ministry, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
Bridging the Generation Gap: How to Engage Younger Women in Your Women’s Ministry
We’re continuing our series on Hot Topics and Hot Takes with a question I regularly receive from women’s ministry leaders – How do we get younger women to attend our women’s ministry events?
We all know a healthy, vibrant women’s ministry includes women of all ages, so how do you reach those who aren’t coming?
If your women’s ministry historically attracts older women, persuading younger women to attend can be a real challenge.
What do I mean by “younger women”? Younger women in your church may mean any woman under age 40, but in another church that might mean targeting women 20-30. Your team will have to review your attendance stats and see what age groups are missing. Be careful not to target only young moms. Not every young woman is married (or wants to be married) and not every young woman is a mom.
I want to encourage you to examine what you’re offering and consider why they might not be coming.
- Are you offering events, activities, and Bible studies that younger women are interested in?
- Do you know why younger women aren’t coming?
If we have the answers to those questions, we can prayerfully consider adjustments to address the issues at hand.
But how do we find the answers?
Here are three ideas for understanding what’s keeping younger women from attending.
- Personal conversations with younger women can help you to understand what they feel is lacking. Do you know some younger women in your church that you could invite to coffee or lunch? Spend some time finding out what their interests are. Some may even be willing to tell you why they aren’t coming.
- Talk with leaders in your church that lead younger women. I used this tactic at a former church I served in and it was eye-opening. I had a lengthy phone call with the wife of the couple that led the Sunday school class of the age group we were targeting. She was able to share with me the challenges the women in their group face and encouraged me to provide resources to help them conquer their physical needs so we can minister to their spiritual needs. While that did include offering childcare at our events, she shared the need for practical help for meal planning, home organization, and discipling their children and she was quick to point out they weren’t interested in banquets or afternoon tea. To come to a women’s ministry event, they were going to choose not to do something else.
- Send out a survey. (For more details on creating and sending out surveys, check out this post.) To ensure you’re getting input from younger women include a question that reveals their age group and make sure they receive the survey link. Many younger women don’t check their email inbox frequently and they definitely prefer electronic over paper. Consider sending a link via text and placing a QR code on the slides for the worship service. If you want them to be transparent, you’ll need to allow their responses to be anonymous.
It’s going to take some time and some research to uncover what’s keeping the younger women in your church from attending your women’s ministry program, but it’s worth it!
So, what do you do with that information?
Once you have some idea why they aren’t coming, you need to figure out which issues to address and how to address those your team deems necessary.
Not every suggestion must be acted upon. Take the time to pray and seek the Lord’s will. As we’ve discussed before, your mission statement should guide what you offer. Ultimately women need the gospel. They need a relationship with the God who created them in His image. Without that, nothing else matters. How can we encourage them to live a life that glorifies God?
Generally speaking, younger women are looking for deep Bible study and opportunities to serve in their community. Does your women’s ministry calendar offer those things?
Looking back, every church I’ve served in has struggled to draw in younger women to some degree.
When I stepped in as co-leader of our women’s ministry team in Kentucky, our most pressing issue was attracting younger women. Most of our regular attendees were 60+. We had a few in their 50’s, but very few younger than that. Being in my late 30s myself, I was surprised to discover very few women my age were active in the women’s ministry. Church members knew it was for “older women only”.
There were a couple of strategic choices we made to immediately try to change that perception and reality.
- We sought out younger women for our women’s ministry team. We needed their insight. Because there weren’t many younger women attending we didn’t know who to ask, so we reached out to staff and Sunday school teachers for names of younger women to prayerfully consider as new members of our team.
- We included younger women on the platform. In one specific instance, we had a panel of 3 women speak at an event and one was in her early 30’s. Consider selecting someone younger to lead worship or open the event in prayer at an upcoming event.
Women will often attend an event if a friend of theirs is going and even more so if their friend is involved in the event. They don’t want to be the only woman in attendance under age 40.
10 things you can do to reach the younger women in your church
- Prayerfully recruit younger women to serve in leadership roles on your women’s ministry team and your planning teams. As I’ve alluded to they’ll share their excitement with their friends and they won’t want to attend an event alone. They’ll also provide a perspective that will help you reach your target.
- Specifically recruit younger volunteers to help with events. Ask them to greet women at the door, assist with decorations, man the name tag table, pour tea, etc.
- Make sure you clearly communicate the “WIIFM” – what’s in it for me. They’ll need concrete reasons to choose the event or activity over other activities and events. If there is a cost, they’ll want to know they are getting their money’s worth. You may not think they’d choose a nap or grocery shopping over your women’s ministry event, but they will!
- Tap into their small group or Sunday school leaders. Recruit those folks to help publicize and encourage their group members to attend. They’ll be more likely to attend if their small group leader will be there too. No one wants to walk into a room seemingly filled with strangers.
- Be intentional about multi-generational connections. How can you create opportunities for older and younger women to share with one another? Icebreaker games that require women to work the room can be helpful. Maybe you need to consider dividing women into groups and assigning seating.
- Utilize social media. Younger generations spend lots of time looking at videos and photos – thus the wild success of Instagram and YouTube. Create engaging videos, eye-catching graphics, and use photos. If they aren’t coming to you, you’ve got to go to them! Social media is an easy way to do just that. (Check out this master list of social media tips!)
- Don’t let finances keep women from attending. While women of all ages will stay away due to an event’s cost, it’s often your younger women who don’t have extra money for expensive trips or retreats. Many of them are still paying off their student loans or they may be saving for a house. Find a way to make it affordable, such as offering cheaper rates for those who are willing to share a bed. Offer an early bird or bring-a-friend discount.
- Women love to be personally invited. A personal invitation may be just what they are waiting for before attending a women’s ministry event or activity. In addition to those verbal invites, text or email personalized invitations to every woman (not just your younger ones) when possible, especially for bigger events.
- Choose music, games, and speakers that will engage multiple generations. Make sure your worship set includes a few current worship songs and a few beloved hymns. Provide the words so everyone can follow along.
- Let them know their attendance matters. Drop a note in the mail or send them a text to thank them for coming and include a personal note when possible. For example, I’m praying for the work issue you shared with me. Tell them you hope to see them at your next event (include what and when it is).
We need to make the value of our events clear.
Women have so many things to choose from we have to make sure we are offering something that’s of value to them. Our publicity needs to communicate the benefits. The way we communicate our events needs to appeal to multiple generations.
Building relationships with younger women takes time and intention.
In the last couple of months, God’s driven that point home to me. Through multiple conversations, God revealed the desire of younger women to connect with older women through simple things such as sharing a meal in our home or helping with multiple young children at the park.
That brings us to Today’s Toolbox Tasks:
- Take a close look at your attendance to identify any age groups that are missing.
- Make a list of things your team can do to reach younger women and map out a plan for implementing those ideas.
- Ask the women on your team to pray for and plan for opportunities to connect with younger women.
The life and future of your women’s ministry program is dependent on younger women. I pray they’ll feel loved, wanted, and connected.
You may also want to read:
Crafting a Solid Women’s Ministry Mission Statement
Everything You Need to Know About Women’s Ministry Surveys
Engaging Multiple Generations
How to Use Facebook and Instagram to Build Community and Encourage Spiritual Growth Between Women’s Ministry Meetings
Dividing Women into Groups
Icebreakers and Games Masterlist