At your women’s group meeting, you look around the room at the dear friends who work beside you serving the Lord and you notice that there is no one there under 50, or maybe no one under 60…or 70. You feel a moment of panic as you realize that you have no younger women to carry on your good work.
When you begin to discuss it, you all share the same fears and frustrations. This is not a new revelation to any of you. Over the years you have brainstormed, read books and tried one suggestion after another. Yet, here you are with the same dear ladies and one common cry, “How can we engage the younger women who are the future of our ministry?”
You are not alone. This same cry is echoing in women’s groups all around the county. Women are seeing their groups aging and don’t know how to stop it.
First of all, you must recognize that aging is unstoppable as long as you live on Earth. Aging of the women in your ministry is not the problem.
If your schedule, methods of service and meeting style are incompatible with the needs and interests of younger women, you will not attract them to your ministry. But, if you change all of those things, in the process you may upset and possibly lose some of your long-time members. The answer may be to change your focus.
Your group may not be failing to grow just because you aren’t reaching the young women…it may not be growing because you are failing to reach out to any women.
Every day there are new “older women”: women who are newly retired, or widowed; women with empty nests and time on their hands; women who are desperate to feel needed and appreciated; women whose needs, comfort styles and schedules are not so different from your own. But, you cannot expect these women to come looking for your group. You must reach out to them.
To grow and thrive as a ministry you must be intentional. It is up to you, as a group and as individuals, to make yourselves known to the women in your community.
Before taking steps to reach out, be sure about your motives. Are you reaching out to provide women with an opportunity to serve God and each other, to make a difference, to feel needed, to deepen their relationships with each other and God? Or is your motive simply to keep your ministry alive and have more hands to do the work? Once you have your focus clear you are ready to act.
You must evaluate what your group has to offer the women you hope to reach. If you are unwilling to tailor your ministry to your target women by adapting to their times of availability, their childcare needs and their ministry and communication styles, you will need to change your target. Or you will fail.
It is important to realize that the only way to get to know the needs of the women in your community is within relationship. Not a recruiter relationship, but an authentic, caring, one-on-one relationship. Your women must be willing to take the necessary steps to establish these kinds of relationships in your community.
Your current group of women come out faithfully, not because they love long boring meetings, cleaning the church kitchen and rolling bandages. It isn’t even for the desserts. It is for the relationships they have with one another.
Reaching out to strangers and casual acquaintances is risky.
- You might be rejected.
- You might be disappointed.
- Your feelings might get hurt.
- You may make a new friend.
- You may serve your ministry.
- You may please God.
[This post is reprinted from Power Walking with Jonna, November 2012]