Last week while running errands I caught the last 10 minutes of part 1 of this 2-part interview of Lee and Leslie Strobel on Focus on the Family titled Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch.
As I listened faces of women who’ve I gone to church with over the years flashed through my mind. The mom of 5 who takes her children to church each Sunday while her husband sits at home – the hypocrisy he’s witnessed in the church has hardened his heart. The woman who changed churches for her husband, but he now refuses to attend. Each week she prays maybe this time. The woman who feels she must hide her faith when her husband’s at home…
I’ve been thinking a lot about the last week about how women’s ministry teams can minister to women who are spiritually mismatched.
I’m afraid we often do more harm than help.
Do our spiritually mismatched women feel supported by the church or do they feel the pressure to pick sides or choose the church over their spouse?
Let’s make certain they feel supported.
11 Ways We Can Minister to Spiritually Mismatched Women in the Church
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1. We must never make women feel guilty for not attending women’s ministry events.
Never. When we put undue pressure on women to attend we can do great harm to the relationship with their spouse and can damage the reputation of the women’s ministry.
2. Pair women with Godly mentors.
All women need encouragement and mentoring, but especially those whose spouse does not share the same beliefs. This is a difficult road to walk, offer to connect them with a Godly guide.
3. Provide childcare at your events and activities whenever possible.
Childcare can be a burden and a point of resentment for a husband who is resistant to church activities and events. Keep in mind #1.
4. Offer studies that support women who are in a different place than their spouse.
While I have not personally read Spiritual Mismatch, you may want to check it out as a possible Bible study option for your women. There are discussion questions at the end of the book and a great 30-day prayer guide. See the bottom of the post for other resources books to explore.
5. Encourage women to choose their spouse over extracurricular church activities.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say we must be at the church every time the door is open. If Sunday morning services are all they can attend without causing friction in their marriage, encourage them during the window of opportunity you do have rather than pushing them to do more.
6. Pray for women who are unequally yoked.
Create a list and seriously commit to praying for the spouse of each woman. Pray for God to soften his heart, for protection of their marriage, for unity, and ultimately for salvation. See the 30-Day Prayer Guide in Spiritual Mismatch for more prayer ideas.
7. Put a stop to any gossip about women who attend church alone.
The church should be a safe place. Gossip may lead her to abandon the church.
8. If there’s a need, offer a support group for women that are spiritually mismatched.
Pray for and recruit women who’ve been in the same situation prior to help lead and mentor the women in the group. Speak with your Pastor to find out if they think there is a need for a support group in your church.
9. Encourage all of your women to live out 1 Peter 3:1-2.
“Wives, likewise, submit to your own husbands. Do this so that even if some of them refuse to believe the word, they may be won without a word by their wives’ way of life. After all, they will have observed the reverent and holy manner of your lives.” How many of us need this pasted on our bathroom mirrors?!
10. Counsel women to stay in their marriage (unless there is abuse).
God does not condone divorce due to a spiritual mismatch. See 1 Corinthians 7: 12-15. We tend to shy away from messy situations, but God may be calling us to step in and counter the advice society offers abundantly.
11. Counsel women before marriage to adhere to 2 Corinthians 6:14.
It may be unpopular advice, but your young women, especially, need to hear real stories of how difficult it could be to marry an unbeliever. Many women enter marriage thinking they can save their spouse, but only Jesus can. Share the truth lovingly.
In addition to later listening to the complete interview on Focus on the Family, I had the opportunity to see the movie The Case for Christ over the weekend. I went with a friend who has read both books – Spiritual Mismatch and The Case for Christ. The movie more closely parallels the Spiritual Mismatch book. Consider watching the movie with your team as part of a training on ministering to women who are unequally yoked. It will make for some good discussion!
I’d love for you all to chime in! How else can we minister to women who are unequally yoked?
Consider reviewing these following books for additional resources:
(Please note I have not personally had the opportunity to read them.)
Spiritual Mismatch: Hope for Christians Married to Someone Who Doesn’t Know God
Without a Word: Living Abundantly as the Wife of an Unbeliever
When He Doesn’t Believe: Help and Encouragement for Women Who Feel Alone in Their Faith