Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Women's ministry ideas - I need your help!

I'm heading to a Women's Council meeting at church tomorrow night. We're brainstorming new ideas to reach out to women of all ages, and I thought I'd throw it out to you all. Can you help me?

Here's what I need to know:
  • What would YOUR "ideal" women's ministry include (for you, in the stage of life you are in right now)?
  • Are there some neat things your church is doing/has done in the past?
  • Have you tried some things that were a total bust?
Let me know your (approximate) age, age range of your children (if any), your ideas and/or programs already in place. If you are feeling wordy, write a post, and I'll link you here!

Since I missed De-lurking Week last week, this is also your invitation to say hello. Even if you don't have an idea to share, don't be shy! Sign in and let me know who you are!

I'm looking forward to meeting you and hearing what's on YOUR heart!


amy@flexibledreams said...

My ideal woman's ministry would be a mentoring program... one where I GET A MENTOR! I've been married for twelve and a half years and I have two kids (2 and 5 months). Apparently I've passed some magical age where I no longer qualify for mentoring and am only able to mentor others. I guess they didn't get the memo about me still not having my act together and needing some supervision in this life. Women's ministries seem to do a great job serving the new families and everyone in their 20's. Don't forget about the rest of us!

Anonymous said...

We're in the process of rebuilding the women's ministry in our church. The most important thing to me is the Bible studies that have been started. They bring together people who don't usually hang out together and provide fellowship, spiritual growth and support. I think it's also a good thing to have a "fun" night once a month or quarter...whatever works for your group. It's nice to get away and spend time in different settings. I have 3 boys 10, 7 and 3.

Beckyb said...

One of my favorite women's minsitry things we have is once a month we meet on a Sat. am at a local coffee house. It is called Mugs and Muffins and that is exactly what it is - chatting over a cup of coffee and a muffin. We buy our own coffees - the church provides the muffins. I love that - it's a come and go and lasts two hours.

mamashine said...

Ooh, amy's got a good idea there. That would work for me too. Also it's nice when the women's events all offer childcare. Otherwise sometimes I can't go.

Our women's ministry does a birthday lunch where each month decorates a table and has its own themed cake and you get to sit with a bunch of women who share your birthday month. That's fun. And sometimes we do a baby shower in a box for a missionary overseas. I love putting those together and thinking about how paper plates and stuff will be so unexpected and remind the mama of home. :)

Oh, I'm 32 and have a 3yo and an almost-here newborn.

Anonymous said...

I'll definitely be checking out these posts as we've recently "relaunched" our women's ministry. Our focus right now is on our Bible Studies - we did some in the fall and some new ones starting next week. We also have playgroups that meet a couple times a month in various neighborhoods. I love the mugs and muffins idea!

Jen said...

Our church has MOPS...Mothers of Pre Schoolers its world wide....I'm 32 but this is for any mother of children who have young ones and need support....its a wonderful ministry. Check it out!

Anonymous said...

Hi Katherine. I'm 34 yrs old and I have five children too! (aged seven and under)

A vital aspect of women's ministry, in my mind, is engaging different generations together. How great our need is, as women, to learn from (and to teach) those both older and younger than us. 'Tis biblical!

One fun thing we've done in our church has been meeting in our church kitchen once in the fall and once in the spring and we cook up a storm. We freeze dozens of meals in disposable containers and fill our church freezers with them. They're then used throughout the year when needed - new babies, sick moms, movign families, the elderly. And it's amazing how much a group can cook up in a couple of hours!

We've also done cash-less garage sales once a year where everyone brings their 'junk' from home, we set it all out, then we help ourselves. It's a fun time.


Anonymous said...

Definitely a mentoring programme. I think there is a real lack of older (or more experienced) women coming alongside the younger women. Of course, the younger women should then be looking for other younger women, perhaps older teenagers from the youth group, to mentor as well.

I'm nearly 30 and have two and a half kids, under 4.

Anonymous said...

Realize that this is very me-centric--you did ask for MY ideal. I realize there are other women in other stages of life.

I am 33yo, and have five children from (almost) 7yo to 18 months. I am homeschooling the older three.

I would be most interested in a weekly women's Bible study, during the late morning hours, that included childcare even for my schoolaged children. I'm completely willing to pay for my share of the childcare, but coming up with a weekly sitter on my own is very difficult.

Once a month, a girls night out--dinner and a fun activity of some kind.

A yearly (or bi-annual) retreat, that focused less on some speaker and abstract (although no doubt quite worthwhile) topics, and more on having some quiet, directed one-on-one time with the Lord, as well as fun times getting to know the other women of the church better.

Ministry opportunities that take into account the limits of my energy and ability to be involved in things outside my home, such as bringing meals to families with a new baby/sickness/death, etc; perhaps a focus on one or two groups we could positively impact (like a Crisis Pregnancy Center or Angel Tree).

I was took part in a mentoring program, and found it to be a frustrating experience. The woman assigned as my mentor was sweet, but didn't really seem to have much to share with me. Our personalities didn't fit well, I guess, and our life experiences were quite different. It was a real let-down, to be honest. I'd be interested in trying again, if it were an option, but I'd probably have much lower expectations of how wonderful it would be to have a mentor.

Jen said...

What I crave most from women's ministry is the opportunity to form deep and supportive friendships with other women with the same beliefs. So anything that fosters sharing and conversation about our Christian walk is ideal. Like small group prayer times or bible studies. Also having childcare available is very important - I can't have a deep conversation with anyone while trying to supervise my two-year old. Right now I am really feeling the lack of this, as we are in South Korea for a year and there is no such ministry (in English, anyways) at our church.
Delurking as requested,
Jennifer - 26 yrs old, 2 kids (2 1/2 and 14 months) and one due in September

Anonymous said...

Me again. I liked Sarah's comment about the mentoring. I think that's the hard part of a mentoring program is that you really can't force those kind of relationships. We really want to have some sort of a mentoring program but for now we feel the best way to do that is through the Bible Studies and encouraging women to seek out other women there that they have connected with and feel could mentor them.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Katherine. I'm 36, with four children, ages 2 - 10, HS ing the one w/ special needs.
I crave fellowship with other Christian women, where significant relationships can form and community can be built, and where my faith is inspired, grown, challenged and supported. We have so many resources for spiritual growth these days--very important! essential!-- BUT real relationships have become an extremely rare treasure that you can't buy in any store. So many of us lead such disconnected lives these days,with our overdeveloped cultural individualism and technology fortresses. Living out Christian community has never been harder in our culture. And yet, just as the body doesn't work without the head, no part of the body can work without the body as a whole.

We do have a great, very well-developed large womens' Bible study at our church. I've gone for years.(Yes, childcare is essential!) Refreshments, musical worship time, a lecture relating to the study we are to be doing together (one by Beth Moore, for example), and then a defined time in a small group to discuss and pray before picking up children from care on time. But even as nice as it is, for me that Bible study just has not filled the holes it is designed to. Having my course of Bible study set up for me and put on a schedule that I can rarely keep up with in my current situation actually has set up a drive to (oh, how do I explain this?)make my relationship with God an external, group focused, gotta "do Bible study" and get it done thing, rather than the moment by moment relationship it should be. I keep going just for the fellowship I desperately want. And yet, even on that count, the schedule and time limits, the pretty strictly focused conversation during group time... it just doesn't foster relationships in the way that we women crave... But it is much better than nothing.

This summer, however, I was involved in a group of Christian women (anywhere from 4 to 10 of us) that met at 7pm once a week at a coffee/bread place. Kids taken care of elsewhere, and 2+ full hours until the place closed. On the surface, the serious spiritual nature of it looked dubious. An easy- reading, yet still full of wisdom book about Christian living was chosen. One easy chapter per week. If you happened to miss reading one week, it wasn't a big deal. Still plenty of time left over to pursue whatever personal study God laid on my heart to do. Whoever was in charge of "hosting" for the week came ready with just one question about the material to throw out. The only rule (besides the usual about confidentiality and staying far away from gossip) was that each person should be given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the question before others jumped in and developed the conversation further. After that, conversation was allowed to flow. Sometimes it stayed totally on the original topic from the book. Sometimes it went far away from it. It was NOT a Bible study. BUT somehow scripture was always shared. BUT every single time my faith was grown, inspired, challenged and supported in biblically sound, spirit-led ways. So much more than in the Bible study. We ministered to one another and built relationships. Much more than in the Bible study. And we prayed for each other as sisters.

Oooh, this ramble got long. I do hope you can glean *something* from it. =)

Qtpies7 said...

I'm the Women's ministry leader at our church. We have a yearly women's retreat. We spend the night at the church even! Email me for what we do if interested. We have a once a month Ladies Night out, we sit at the church, stuff our faces, play games, talk, and laugh til soda comes out our noses! Much bonding goes on!
There is the mother daughter banquet, too.
I want to see more small groups start up. In home type of groups. We also started a Moms Of Munchkins group, with Titus 2 women involved for support.
We will be looking into a Titus 2 mentoring program, I haven't researched it yet, but we need one.
We also get a group together and go to the Women of Faith conferences.
Next year the women are going to the Monster Truck Rally!!! We have coffee nights at Caribou Coffee.
Whew, I'm winded, hehe.
I'm 35, have 7 kiddos, teens to infant.

Holly said...

I am 32 with 3 kids, ages 2, 6, & 8. I do read you blog all the time.

I think a women's ministry needs good bible study of different varieties. I love Beth Moore, but sometimes I need something less demanding. I think if you church is big enough options is great, or maybe an every other study if it is not.

Events providing child care is needed. I also think there is a need for activites women can do with there children. Perhaps a service project planting flowers for a nursing home, mom and me day, or learn how to pray or worship with you children.

I think a mentoring program is great, but I also think they can be hard to pull off well.

Stephanie said...

I'm delurking ... I don't know that I have any great ideas at the moment!

Anonymous said...

I'm the Relief Society President, which is my church's women's ministry. We have a women's meeting each Sunday that focuses on scripture study. Each week our church has an institute class which is more in-depth, college-level scripture study.

Alot of the focus in our ward is building friendships with the other sisters. We have the visiting teaching program where each sister is assigned a companion and they visit 2-3 other sisters per month. It's kinda like the mentoring that others have suggested. It's just a nice way to sit and chat with 2 people who are there for any needs you may have.

We also do a lot of fun little activity groups. Most of the times they are at people's houses to make the setting more personal and fun. We've started a Book Club, a Mom's Playgroup, a Quilting Club, Sewing Club, Sisters who (like to) Sing, and Craft & Scrap.

About once a quarter we have a bigger women's meeting where we have a theme and speakers or activities to enrich our lives. Next month's will be on emergency preparedness-- 72 hour kits, building food storage, budgeting and being spiritually prepared. Our meeting in July will be on parenting/raising children of God. Each September we do a dessert social and in December we do a meeting focused on Christmas or family traditions.

I know this is long, and we have a lot going on. I hope some of it helps give you some ideas. Feel free to email me if you want to know more.

MrsMama said...

I'm in my late 30's and have 2 school-aged children.

What works: our church offers a weekly morning Bible Study, complete with childcare. There is even a place for homeschoolers to be able to do work quietly. The church also offers an evening Bible study to ladies who work during the day.

Neat events: there is a Women's Retreat, a Tea and opportunities to help each other by providing meals in times of need, a Housecleaning ministry (several women whose children are grown, offer to help clean in times of sickness, crisis, etc.)

I'd like to see a Playgroup, for mothers of young children - so they can get out of the house and connect with other mothers.

Check out our church's website for details about the Women's ministy (which is alive and working wonderfully!)

http://www.gepc.org/gepc2/content/category/77/2/ (sorry, you'll have to cut and paste)

Click on the "COME", "GROW" and "SERVE" links for details.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Katherine:
I enjoy your blog. I've just recently discovered blogs, and yours is one of my favorite. Anyway, here's my comment on the Women's Ministry. You can't go wrong if you stick with Titus 2:3-5 since these verses include the role of older women and younger women in the church. One thing that has always stuck out to me about verse 4 is that the older women are to "teach the younger women to love their husbands and children." This reminds me that we don't always WANT to love our husbands and children, and that we need to be taught how to do this.

Our church has a woman's group that meets twice a month as well as a spring tea and fall fellowship, where our pastor's wife addresses certain verses.

If the older women are fulfilling their God-given roles, the younger women will look up to them for guidance and wisdom, passing on what God has outlined in scripture.

Laura said...

Hi Katherine! I love this post. I think a small group with other woman is essential. We just started one up again with our church but each week we will focus on a different thing, ie: small project, bible study, devotion, helping others, etc.
I think we all crave connection with other women so anything that brings them together is a good thing in my book.
Motherhood can be so isolating. It is always nice to get together and know you aren't the only one struggling some days.
Can't wait to hear what you end up doing.

Anonymous said...

I think the anonymous who commented right before Org Junkie goes to my old church! CBC, right anonymous?

I, too, hunger for mentoring. The women's ministry at the church I used to go to in SC, the one I referred to above, has small groups organized under "Titus Moms" - older ladies of Godly character who shepherd those in their group. I miss it so much!!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

I could share so much from my own experiences. The underlying theme I read in your comments is relationship, relationship, relationship. I (we) have used a wonderful mentoring program that is completely laid out for you and also Donna Otto has a great book titled, Finding a mentor, being a mentor. There are several other good books on this subject.
One of the most important things to consider is the ladies in your church and their specific needs. Many times we don't lack really great ideas or programs, but what is difficult is staying true to what God may be wanting to do in the ladies he has given you to serve. For example, one of the churches God called us to pastor was filled with ladies who were either childless or with 1 or 2 kids. At the time, I had four small children, was homeschooling and was ready to hit the floor running with a moms group etc.. But what I had to do was surrender all my ideas, and begin to love these precious ladies who I did not understand. In one of our first meetings there were five women over 35 who had never had a child of their own. I began to ask God to show me what it was He wanted for these ladies. I was full of great ideas, but nothing would of worked. Instead God gave me a plan in which we could come together and study God's word and fellowship that ministered to the ladies in this church.
Blessings to you as you plan. I may put together some thoughts and post something.

p.s. the comments are good and very interesting to hear the hearts of the ladies. It makes me want to do something..what I don't know.

Sara said...

I'm de-lurking too. I'm 34, no kids. What I would love in a women's ministry is biblical teaching and mentoring. It's hard to strike a balance since women are at all different stages of life and experience, but I think involving all ages is really helpful - we can all learn from each other. I also think service projects are a great idea - I loved the cooking idea, our church does Samaritan's purse and other projects like that which involves service but a lot of fellowship too.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I think all of my wish lisst is represented in these replies: Bible Studies for all ages and stages (some with childcare, some that incorporate mothering into the study); real, meaningful, mentoring with someone who has my interests; one-on-one recreation and bonding time with other women...
Our congregation offers many Bible Studies for ladies; we now have two Ladies Retreats (one with daughters welcome, one ladies only); and we have a Ladies Seminar.

Deborah Fantasia said...

My only idea, would be to offer friendship.
I think in this hopeless world we live in, there is huge need just to be if nothing else "a listening ear" which hopefully will turn into a friendship !
I think people can "sense" when something isn't (your not being) "real."

Sharon said...

My group just got done reading "Created to be His Helpmeet" and it was so good for me to hear. I thought it was a great book and I would definitely recommend it. In our group there are older and younger women--over 50 and down to myself, 23. I have two children--3 yrs. and 5 mo.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

I'm cutting and pasting this one from Shannon @ Rocks in My Dryer:

Hi, Katherine—Blogger wouldn’t let me comment on your post today, so I’m e-mailing my comment instead:

Mentoring, mentoring, mentoring, mentoring. More than once I've wanted to stand in the middle of church and shout, "WHERE ARE THE OLDER WOMEN? WE NEED YOU!"

And by the way, I’m 34 with four kids 9 and under!

Anonymous said...

I just became a stay-at-home mom, but before that I had to work, and I had a son. I really wanted to have something that I could do after work hours, and there was not much. I did an evening Bible study one spring, once they started providing childcare for the evening studies. I really enjoyed it, but I hated being away from my family even more. To give up a evening every week, when I was already away from my family so much, was really hard. I think the best ministry for working moms would be a every-other-week Bible study, where they can still get involved and have a Bible study, but it does not require so much precious time away from their families. This would also minister to single moms who have to work. Childcare is essential - single moms don't have anyone else, and not all husbands are able to watch the kids on a regular basis.
Now that I am stay-at-home, I am looking forward to getting involved in a daytime Bible study, but I still don't want to see the working moms forgotten. They need support/relationships as well!
Age: 30ish, kids: 3 yrs and newborn