Keeping Your Women's Ministry Fresh
By Amy Nappa
Fall is just around the corner! And while in nature this means things are slowing down and preparing for winter’s rest, in ministry it’s just the opposite. We’re gearing up for new Bible studies, new activities, and new friendships with women. But many of us are in a rut, doing the same old thing over and over. This fall, make a fresh start with your Bible studies. Use these tips to kick off your fall with both purpose and pizzazz!
Planning with Purpose
Have you done the same Bible study format, with the same author/speaker or series, for more than three years? It’s easy to choose the same thing over and over because you’ve done it so often and know what to expect; but there may be women who are not attending simply because they’re tired of the same old thing or because you’re not offering a study that’s relevant to them.
Instead of revisiting the same format, consider:
Reviewing several studies that you’ve never tried before.
Yes, you’re looking for Bible depth, but keep in mind the other needs of women such as the need they have to connect with others in meaningful ways. Does the study allow for and even encourage discussion? Does it allow women to share about their own lives and what God is doing or does it only focus on a speaker? Does it focus on filling in the blanks on a page or filling the needs of women’s hearts?
Inviting new women to be leaders or small group facilitators.
Expand your Bible study leadership team by inviting younger women - those who have been on the periphery, and especially those God has put on your heart! Make your invitations in person instead of just placing a note in the bulletin. It’s hard to say “no” when you’ve been asked face to face.
Plan for variety.
Even though many women now work during the day, most churches continue to offer Bible studies only on a weekday morning. Can you offer studies at different times of the day or at various locations like at a coffee shop, the library, homes, or a bookstore? Can you offer one study that is homework intensive and another that isn’t? The more variety you can offer, the more likely women will be able to attend.
Keep groups small to allow for better discussion and more honest sharing.
Small is good! A group with just six members will have opportunities to go deep with each other!
Promoting with Pizzazz
Of course you can do the tried and true publicity efforts such as putting fliers in the bathrooms or adding a bulletin insert with information about your study, but freshen it up and stay relevant by reaching women with these ideas as well:
Create an email blast.
Include information about the studies and blast it out to all the women in your church. Don’t forget to send it to the college girls!
Start a Facebook page for your women’s ministry.
Post information about all the studies there. Start “friending” women in your church and get the word out through social media. If you’re not savvy with web technology, invite a younger woman to handle this for you.
Think of fun and creative ideas to spread the word.
This will keep your fliers from being quickly tossed in the trash. Make new labels for water bottles with all the information about your studies (“Quench your thirst at our Bible study!”). Or put that information on a colorful wrapper for chocolate bars (“Discover how sweet God’s Word is!”). Or tape your information to a bag of trail mix (“We’re nuts about God and you!”).
Consider subscribing to The Spice.
This customizable newsletter allows you to connect with women in your church through a professionally-designed newsletter and calendar. Check it out at group.com/women.
Perk It Up with a Party
Most churches kick off their programs with the first week of Bible study. Yet you’d be surprised to discover how many women don’t know much more than the names of a few other women at your church. Let your first week be one where women get to know each other. They need time to connect, share their stories with each other, and get an idea of what to expect before they’ll be ready to open up their hearts and share honestly with each other. It’s best to do this in smaller groups since the idea is to get women personally connected. So first, invite all your small group leaders or facilitators to join you in doing the following things together. You’ll model your expectations and let them see for themselves how important this step is for the women they’ll be guiding. Plus, your leaders will connect like never before! Here’s what to do:
Easy: Have the leaders of each small group invite their women over for coffee, go out to dinner or dessert together, or even meet at a park and go for a walk together. This time together in a different setting makes conversation more natural.
Over-the-top: Encourage small group leaders to get their group together for an adventure that’s sure to bond them. Horseback riding, canoeing, a behind-the-scenes tour of a local attraction, painting pottery together—anything that’s out-of-the ordinary, takes a few hours, and will provide a connection they’ll talk about for years to come.
Ask women to think back to when they were young girls and then have them share a memory of what they most enjoyed during those years. You might also have women share about how they became Christians, or invite them to tell one dream they still have for their lives. Giving a specific topic for sharing includes everyone—and questions like these allow women to share as deeply as they are comfortable with.
Be sure to use this time to go over group expectations. For example, will your group start on time and end on time? Is it okay to bring kids along or not? And, most importantly, who’s bringing snacks?
Go over group boundaries at this time, as well. Discuss what accountability to each other looks like, why being accepting of each other’s differences is important, and how critical it is that confidentially is maintained. Women need to know that what they share won’t become the topic of conversation and gossip! You may want to create a simple group agreement that everyone signs to convey how important these points are.
Turn over a “new leaf” with your ministry this year and try something new! It could be as simple as starting a Facebook ministry page, or as bold as having an off-site retreat. No matter which option you choose, it can have a big impact on your ministry—and women’s lives. So freshen your attitude, your perspective, and your ministry starting right now. Climb out of that rut and blaze a new path leading women closer to each other and to Jesus!
Other Easy Ministry Ideas:
Fall brings the start of the school year, and the kick off (often literally!) of many sports programs for children—soccer, football, dance, and more. Being at their children’s sports practices and games can prevent mothers from getting involved in a Bible study. Why not invite a few of those mothers to use one practice a week to share prayer needs and read a short devotion together? While their kids are exercising their bodies, they can be exercising their faith. It doesn’t have to be long and involved with lots of homework—anyone who shows up can join in. It’s a great way to bring together new and long-time believers.
Around the Table
It’s a common complaint among women’s ministry leaders: “The younger women won’t come!” or “None of the older women ever attend!” It can be a challenge to reach both ends of the age spectrum. Instead of tearing your hair out in frustration or making wild guesses at what might attract all ages, simply start talking—and listening. Invite two or three of the older women and two or three of the younger women to join you for coffee. Go around the table and let each woman complete sentences like:
- I wish our church offered…
- I’d love the opportunity to serve by…
- We could get more women like me to participate if we…
You don’t have to make any promises at this meeting and you might want to repeat the process with a different group of women to learn more. These conversations can help you gain insight, get ideas, and discover new leaders within your midst!