I admit I was hopeful back in the summer of 2020 that by early 2021 the church would be in a better place – unified and meeting together again in person without social-distancing concerns.
The pandemic, politics, and culture wars have divided our church members in ways we never thought possible.
So how do we move forward, serving our women and encouraging them to follow Christ while we strive toward unity and seek to glorify God in 2021?
How to Move Forward with Ministry to Women in 2021
1. We actively engage in ministry to women in our local community.
If your ministry calendar is naked, it’s time to act!
Your women are waiting for you to gather them together again – online and in-person. While you’ll undoubtedly want to take the time to plan some events that encourage spiritual growth and connection, don’t make your women wait.
Here’s a quick idea you can set up in minutes. Invite your women to join you online (or online and in-person) for Coffee & Conversation on Saturday morning and one evening next week (give women two options). Use this simple, fuss-free fellowship to check in on your women, let them know you’ve missed their beautiful faces, and get a feel for how they are doing. Encourage them to bring their favorite mug and while you wait for everyone to arrive, ask them to share why it’s special. Have one of your women speak a Word of encouragement and invite women to share their prayer requests in the chat or on notecards.
If you are not feeding the women in your church, someone else will.
If you have shuttered your ministry doors, women hungry for women’s ministry will find it at another church or find it online.
2. We take steps toward in-person events and activities.
Our goal should be to meet face-to-face again. Where you live and what guidelines your church has put in place will determine your pace.
Your team will likely need to provide both online and in-person options for a while. You may choose to host events in small groups, homes, or multiple times so every woman can attend. You may decide that big events going forward will always have an online option, so women who cannot physically attend can participate together online. Is this more work? Probably, but the benefits outweigh the cost.
Do your best to honor women who are ready to return as well as women who are not.
As you make your plans, focus on engagement and not consumption.
Active participation encourages engagement:
- Provide project supplies via porch drop-off or a drive-thru pick up.
- Find creative ways to include icebreakers.
- Utilize Zoom breakout rooms.
- Invite women to connect afterward via a closed Facebook group.
- Share attendee’s cell numbers and email addresses with permission.
- Train your table leaders for in-person events and group leaders for breakout rooms to engage with every woman in the group.
Barna published a report in July 2020 that 32% of Christians had stopped going to church. Though that number has likely decreased (due to some churches’ re-opening), too many Christians have walked away.
Women’s ministry events and activities can be one tool God uses to bring women back to church.
3. We focus on what unites us, not what divides us.
There are women in your church that voted differently than you. There are women in your church that are done with masks and others that have hardly left their homes in the last nine months. The enemy wants to divide us.
Our focus must be on Christ. If we have been saved, then we are all members of the same family. Every member belongs.
Paul addressed the Jews and Gentiles in the passage below, but these same words can be applicable today.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:14-22
Christ’s sacrifice was for ALL of us. He is the cornerstone. We are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of His household. The Holy Spirit lives in each one of us.
God’s Word grounds us and unites us. The Word of God must be the focus of our ministries.
Leaders, we must take great personal care not to further fracture the family of Christ.
I came across these verses in Job last week. Job 15:4, “Your words are enough to make others turn from God and lead them to doubt.” (CEV) Job 16:4-5, “If I were in your place, it would be easy to criticize or to give advice. But I would offer hope and comfort instead.” (CEV)
I pray that we will offer hope and comfort, no matter which side we sit on. Take care that you do not become part of the reason that someone leaves your church.
Please check to make sure everything you post on social media is unifying and points people to Christ. Most of what we want to say is best saved for Spirit-led, one-on-one conversations.
The church has been under attack before, and it will be again. God is still on the throne, and we know He wins in the end.
Despite how the world behaves, our task to remain faithful to that which God has called us.
May the Lord direct your steps and show you how to best shepherd the women He’s placed in your path.