Ministering to the 20 Something Woman
By Beverly Drury
There they stood, two twenty-something women, eagerly entreating me. “Can women’s ministries offer a group for us?” I was a novice in my new role as the Women’s Ministries Coordinator of my church. “What kind of group do you want?” I asked. “Not another Bible study,” they declared with certainty, “and not another meeting at church.”
As we met later over a hamburger, I listened to the specs of their request. “We want to know older women, meet in homes, and learn practical things.” They named two or three potential leaders from among our established “older” women. Their choices demonstrated a decided preference for approachability, affability, and authenticity. From that meeting a vision was born: to provide a time and place for young adult women to meet. The goals: to build relationships and to develop skills that would serve them in their homes and future church ministry. Women’s ministries in churches struggle with “how to reach younger women.” Older women in the church are already convinced of the value of their events and study groups. But they are often mystified by the question of what will appeal to the younger women. They try to entice them to “buy in” to their events, not realizing that their well-intentioned efforts do not connect with the younger generation. The age span of women in the church typically includes 18-year-olds to women in their 90's, and every stage in between. How do you appeal to everyone in this broad expanse of ages? Can women in all age groups unite in their common goal of glorifying Christ by meeting women’s needs? As our group took shape and began to function, several key observations emerged:
Unstructured time is important
“Hanging out” is a favorite activity of young women. They value time for casual interaction with older women and with one another. Each meeting should have a purpose, but allowing plenty of time for informal fellowship is also important.
Hands-on works best
An activity that involves chopping, stirring, and especially eating appeals most. As young women gather in the kitchen and around the table, they enjoy actually entering into the practical aspects of the lesson they are learning.
Involve a variety of older women
Seek out women in your church who would willingly open their homes to young women for an evening of fun and learning. Identify the special skill they could demonstrate to an eager group of participants (knitting, cooking, budgeting, etc.). Women of all ages enjoy the hospitality offered in our homes. There they find more warmth and see the uniqueness of women’s personalities.
Keep an open door (and heart)
As our core young women came into contact with their friends, some of whom do not attend church at all, they felt the freedom to include them in our activities. I was always pleasantly surprised to see who walked through the door. Be prepared for unexpected guests.
Spend meaningful time together in prayer for the concerns of your group members
Young women have concerns for their family members and their personal needs. Make your group a safe place to share those needs and pray about them. Be open and honest about your own needs and struggles. Don’t forget to thank God for His answers.
Come up with a fun and funky name for your group
We call our group C.L.A.S.S., which stands for Christian Life and Service Skills. In time we came to call ourselves “The CLASSY Women.”
Involve group members in the planning
Listen carefully to their ideas and help them implement them. They will grow as they enter into the process and make their own decisions. Early training for women's ministry leaders is taking place! Recently our C.L.A.S.S. group participated in a Women’s Ministries Spring Tea for all the women of the church. The “Celebri-Tea” focused on celebrating friendship. C.L.A.S.S. members decorated a table and filled it with their friends. Black and white decorations appeared young and fresh a welcome contrast to the lace and rosebud teacups on the surrounding tables.
Framed photos of vintage “celebrities” stood at each place setting. Two members spoke about the benefits of their group, to the delight of all the women. We found that women of all ages can come together, each bringing her own contribution to our combined effort. All it takes is a big heart and a little CLASS.