If your women’s ministry historically attracts older women, persuading younger women to attend can be a real challenge.
I hear often from leaders that want to reach younger women, but their efforts aren’t yielding much fruit.
We all know a healthy, vibrant women’s ministry includes women of all ages, so how do you reach those you aren’t?
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. 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 they would recommend. We prayed over the names and moved forward as we felt the Lord lead.
- 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 even just open the event in prayer at an upcoming event.
We also went to great lengths to uncover the why.
Why weren’t younger women coming?
Turns out it was much more than just perception. One Sunday school teacher in particular shared that the younger women in her group were looking for practical helps – getting dinner on the table quickly, help with discipline, etc.
They weren’t interested in fluffy banquets or afternoon tea. To come to a women’s ministry event they were going to choose not to do something else – whether that was attend a child’s sporting event, tackle a pile of laundry, walk their dog, or bathe the kids.
We needed to make the value of our events clear.
Here are 10 things you can do to reach the younger women in your church and community.
1.Make sure you recruit younger women to serve on your women’s ministry team and your planning teams.
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.
2. Specifically recruit volunteers that are younger to help with events.
Ask them to greet women the door, assist with decorations, man the name tag table, pour tea, etc.
3. Make sure you clearly communicate the “WIIFM” – what’s in it for me.
They’ll need concrete reasons to choose your event or activity over other activities/events. If there is a cost, they’ll want to know they are getting their monies worth. You may not think they’d chose a nap or grocery shopping over your women’s ministry event, but they will!
4. Tap into their small group or Sunday school teachers.
Recruit those folks to help publicize and encourage their group members to attend. They’ll be more likely to attend if their Sunday School teacher will be there too. No one wants to walk into a room seemingly filled with strangers.
5. Utilize social media.
Younger generations respond to videos and photos – thus the wild success of Instagram and YouTube. Create engaging videos, fun 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. And, no, most of them are not on Facebook.
6. 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 that don’t have extra money for expensive trips or retreats. Many of them are still paying off their student loans. 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.
7. Women love to be personally invited.
A personal invitation may be just what they are waiting for! (This was an actual response we received on a women’s ministry survey.) In addition to those verbal invites, mail (or email if you must) personalized invitations to every woman (not just your younger ones) when possible and especially for bigger events. You could do a letter or a save-the-date postcard. Try to warmly communicate that you want them to come – don’t just share the facts.
8. Try to find out why.
Why is it your younger women aren’t typically attending? Address any issues you can. Maybe there’s just a sense that it’s only for “older women” and they don’t even realize they are welcome. As I noted earlier, it happens. Maybe most of your events are during the daytime when they are at work. This can be a great question to ask their Sunday school/small group leader – often they’ll confide in them vs risking hurting your feelings if asked directly.
You could also send out a survey to collect input, but expect few responses from those you are trying to reach as they may not respond since they don’t participate.
9. 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.
Younger women do appreciate the wisdom of older women and will attend events with “seasoned” speakers, but they need to know #2 before choosing to attend.
See my post on Engaging Multiple Generations for more specific ideas.
10. Let them know their attendance matters.
Drop a note in the mail to thank them for coming and include something specific and personal when you can. IE. I’m praying for the work issue you shared about with me. Tell them you hope to see them at your next event (include what and when it is).
What other ideas do you have for getting younger women to attend women’s ministry events? What’s worked at your church?