According to the State of Ministry to Women report, several groups of women may commonly find themselves on the outskirts of connection.
By Kelly King
Ministry to women in the local church is designed to meet the needs of all women, but according to Lifeway Research’s findings in the State of Ministry to Women report, several groups may commonly find themselves on the outskirts of connection.
The new research surveyed more than a thousand female churchgoers in the United States along with 842 women’s ministry leaders. The study reveals four areas of needed improvement when it comes to developing a holistic ministry to all women in the church. These groups include younger women, senior adult women, single moms, and single women.
The oldest and the youngest
On average women’s ministry leaders said women ages 18 to 25 only make up 7% of their church’s women’s ministry. They also reported only 12% of the average women’s ministry includes women over the age of 70. On average, women’s ministries are more likely to be made up of women ages 26 to 40 (20%), 41-55 (26%), and 56 to 70 (35%).1 in 10 (9%) women said they have chosen not to participate in a women’s ministry event or gathering because the topic being addressed was not for their stage of life. Click To Tweet
When leaders were asked if their women’s ministry was designed to meet the needs of various groups of women, only 17% responded that their ministry was well designed to meet the needs of women ages 18 to 25 years old. And 38% said their ministry was designed to meet the needs of women over the age of 70. Meanwhile, more than 3 in 5 (63%) leaders said their women’s ministry was well designed to meet the needs of women ages 26 to 40. And more than 3 in 4 said it was designed to meet the needs of women 41 to 55 (78%) and 56-70 (83%).
The State of Ministry to Women research among churchgoers also confirmed that events or gatherings don’t always meet the needs of women. More specifically, 1 in 10 (9%) women said they have chosen not to participate in a women’s ministry event or gathering because the topic being addressed was not for their stage of life.
Reaching younger and older women
There are a couple of things leaders can do to reach these two demographics. The first thing leaders can do is identify women in their congregation who fit each of the age groups and assess their needs, when they can meet, and what they hope to receive from women’s ministry. It’s also important to include both younger women and older women on your leadership teams, asking them to help create discipleship opportunities and ways women can connect.“It’s a good desire to find ways to connect all the generations in local church ministry, but it isn’t always practical.” — @kellydking Click To Tweet
It’s a good desire to find ways to connect all the generations in local church ministry, but it isn’t always practical. Leaders can develop Bible studies and activities that appeal to women of all ages, but sometimes they can focus on one demographic and target their attendance. Whether it’s providing studies during the day when many older women choose to attend or providing Bible studies in the evening when working women or younger women might attend, options and variety can be valuable in reaching more women.
Single moms and single women
The research also revealed that leaders said their ministry isn’t always meeting the needs of single moms and single women. Only 30% of leaders said their ministry was well designed for single mothers. And 38% responded that the women’s ministry in their local church was designed for single women in general.
Single women tend to be lumped together as one demographic. Yet there are many types of single women in the local church. Women’s ministry leaders would be wise to consider ways they meet the needs of those who have never been married, those who are divorced, as well as widows in the church. Leaders planning events or Bible studies must also consider childcare if they desire to reach single moms who have younger children.
If you look at the New Testament, you’ll see that one of the first crises of the church involved serving widows and their physical needs. Church leaders in the first century understood these women were vulnerable, and it is still vital that churches today consider the physical and spiritual needs of both widows and single mothers.“Many single women are leading in the marketplace, yet churches often set aside their gifts and talents in ministry.” — @kellydking Click To Tweet
Churches don’t always see the great value of single women in their congregations. Many single women are leading in the marketplace, yet churches often set aside their gifts and talents in ministry. Instead of placing single women in a separate category, leaders should include and elevate them by placing them on leadership teams, giving them opportunities to serve and lead mission teams, as well as encouraging them to dive deeper into theological studies.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Kelly is the women’s ministry specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources.