Do you find that women’s events are often boring–or irrelevant?
Every now and then I write something on social media to just start a conversation and it blows up in ways I totally wasn’t expecting.
That happened last week, when I really hit a nerve, and hundreds of people jumped in.
I posted this on Facebook:
Ever felt like you just don’t fit in to women’s events at church?
Maybe you don’t want to go decorate another mason jar, or you don’t want to make a wreath. Maybe you work during the day and the women’s studies are all during the weekday. Maybe you’re not cut out for kitchen or nursery duty but there’s really nothing else available for you.
After so many people jumped in with heartfelt comments about feeling really alone at church, and responded to my post last Friday about stereotypical women’s events, I posted again, asking for ideas for women’s ministry that women would actually like. We had, again, hundreds of responses, so I tried to find 10 themes to post about today that encapsulates what so many people said, in hopes that those who run women’s ministry events may see this and incorporate some of these ideas.
I think part of the problem is that people who gravitate towards women’s ministry often don’t share the same life experience as those who are more likely to attend but not organize. And so what may resonate with some won’t resonate with the majority.
So let’s talk about what else we can do!
1. Women’s Events with (Meaty) Bible Studies
If you’re going to get together for a women’s Bible study, let’s start studying the actual Bible, and not just fluffy self-help books, so many people said.
“Best Women’s Bible study group I was ever in: We actually read the Bible. Like, the whole thing, over the course of about two years. We discussed it together weekly. And the church paid a sitter so the young moms could be there.”
“I have appreciated when ladies’ studies systematically study the Bible rather than just the “pink verses”.”
“For study: Church history, especially early church; Hebrew/Greek language class (ongoing); Addressing hard issues like addiction, abuse, mental health, etc.”
Over and over again women said they wanted something meaty where they would actually learn something. The thought that women just want to be entertained and do something fun is certainly not in line with what so many women say. Our time is precious and scarce, and we don’t want to spend time on things that don’t matter.
2. Women’s Ministry Events that Empower Women
Women want to feel competent and confident, so events that teach important skills is high on people’s lists!
“A ministry that will empower women …. so, self defense lessons , repair or quick fix it lessons of appliances , electrical & auto repairs . Also , First Aid . With open discussions in between about domestic abuse , patriarchal system & how to diplomatically rise above the ” traditional gender roles”
“Abuse prevention education with a focus on training for reporting and helping!”
“My church has been doing life skills classes. Budgeting, dealing with doubt, personal safety, etc. We are also working on a mental health/trauma healing class. Not from the perspective of necessarily a group therapy thing, but a practical, how do we heal thing.”
Again, people like things that matter!
3. Women’s Events Where Women Get to Do the Fun “Manly” Things
A big theme in the comments was that the guys’ events tended to seem a lot more fun–and had way better food (why don’t women’s events ever have bacon?).
“I remember the men’s group had this cool grilled stake dinner and I said out loud “Why do the women get cold tiny sandwiches for our dinners and the men get yummy grilled stakes. Women like to eat too.””
“Ok so a couple of thoughts on this…
I did often note that the men’s activities at church tended to be more recreational while the women’s activities were more like church but without the men.
Also, at my old church, Father’s Day was a full breakfast buffet with eggs, bacon, sausage, etc but Mother’s Day was fruit and yogurt. I’m guessing so we could keep our figures?
Also, when the women would get together, the speaking would always focus around marriage and motherhood.
Currently, I would love a group that would allow for deep theological discussion in which various viewpoints were discussed, and it was approached with the spirit of curiosity.”
“Paintball night or a gun range night ? Or four wheeling …. Lol it seems the guys do all the adrenaline get togethers while we have preppy tea party’s and sit in our cliques… so yeah anything fun that’s gets one out of our comfort zone a little bit to grow together.”
4. Events to Relax and Build Connection
Making friendships was a big thing that women wanted too!
“Good food, good conversation, getting to know women I haven’t had a chance to connect with yet. No cliques clinging together. Instead, women randomly assigned to sit at tables in small groups and discuss life topics then we rotate and are assigned to different tables and different questions. Maybe a 2 day retreat with some relaxation elements like eating meals together, hiking, yoga, prayer and devotion times, etc.”
“Honestly something that doesn’t have to be a bible study always. Let’s just get together and visit. Sometimes life is heavy and I just want to come and be and not have to think deeply about things.”
“A 4-day weekend away at a lodge with all food catered invisibly by the men (who will also magically do the dishes). Beach walks, art projects, devotionals, spa treatments, movie nights, unstructured time to just sit around and connect.”
I think that last one is a fantasy!
5. Women’s Events with Adventure to Let Off Steam
We had so many people list really great ideas for these ones! Honestly, girls just wanna have fun is going through my mind reading peoples’s responses.
“Escape room, biking, paintball, hiking, outdoor adventure, bonfire….we have a nearby “rage room” and it was very fun. I’ve never laughed so hard and bonded with friends more. It would be a fantastic ministry event if done right.”
“I’d love a retreat where we could work with horses, go climbing and zip lining, enjoy a pool or hot tub, have some crafts for those who aren’t as mobile or who just love to be creative, and have some amazing food we didn’t have to cook. The teaching focus could be on emotional health (like Scazzero’s materials) or could be a mix of workshops by theologians where we could do a deep dive into what Paul really said.”
6. Women’s Events Focusing on Serving or Caring for Others
This would have been my big pick! I think people want to do something meaningful. A few years ago I organized the women and teen girls in our church to have a Saturday sewing party where we sewed cloth menstrual pads for a mission in Kenya, and it was so successful (we made hundreds, and they were so cute!). And it raised awareness of an issue that women uniquely face in the Third World.
So many women said it had been their favourite women’s event ever because we were doing something that mattered.
“We recently got together to pack welcome boxes for the local women’s shelter. I love service events because with lots of kids at home, I don’t have the energy to organize something on my own, but I really do want to help our community.”
“Community outreach/service: helping immigrants as they try to settle and navigate our institu, to being trained in basic power tools & building so we can build for Habitat for Humanity, or help elderly w repairs; as well as casual fellowship (I can do w/out Bible study – most are poor and some harmful), possibly w small prayer groups and NO crafts.”
I thought this next one put an interesting twist on it…
“Practical helps such as helping each other with projects in our homes that were overwhelmed with. Obviously, pride has to be set aside.”
7. Women’s Ministry Ideas with Exercise Classes
Lots of people voted for exercise classes–which makes sense, because we all know we should exercise, but we often don’t have time. So let’s give women that time while we connect!
“Exercise class like Pilates or yoga or learning how to kick and throw a punch“
“I would love a weekly stretch/yoga class with coffee and prayer after around 11am.”
“dorky dance classes are fun”
8. Women’s Events with Women at Similar Stages of Life
Lots of women mentioned needing empathy and connection and help.
“Honestly, I’d love for there to be a group for younger, single adult ladies. Like I’m nearly 25 and don’t have an interest in romantic relationships. I’m very happy enjoying my new apartment, dream job, and the pet rats I adopted. It would be so great to be able to learn about god and just enjoy and love life with other ladies in my age range who are happy where they are. Like, I love kids and the idea of love and marriage , but that not being a key thing and but coming up all the time would be amazing. I’m in a Bible study with amazing single old ladies right now but some of them have some opinions about things like marriage and “womanhood” that make me cringe. A few of my friends my age are single, but a lot of them are married or in a long term relationship so I wish that would be a thing so I wouldn’t feel like the weird one for loving my life and not wanting the drama of dating and marriage”
“I feel like we need events all over the country for us single women in the church to focus on deprogramming from fear of men, fear of dating, etc. for single women who want to eventually marry and need help getting over those hurdles cuz toxic purity culture programming is real and some of us are stuck really bad and need more ministries to step up and repent for the toxic purity culture they brought us up with.”
9. Women’s Events Need Free Childcare
Whatever you do–so many women said–if you want women to come, you need to have childcare.
“Childcare. Childcare. Childcare for children with special needs. Also outside of work hours. I would love to come to a prayer time or Bible study, personally. Lack of childcare keeps me away.”
10. Women’s Events that are Inclusive of All Women
Finally, so many people just mourned feeling left out–and said we needed to do a much better job at that.
“Be inclusive- of single women, single moms, women without kids, working moms, moms of kids with special needs, etc.”
“Something that doesn’t equate all women with being moms. I have been in soooooo many women’s events where they’re like “aren’t you glad you got away from your kids?” and constantly refer to everyone as if they are parenting and bereaved and infertile women feel sooooo invisible”
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to women’s ministry events.
But if I could sum up what people were saying, it was that they want something meaningful. They want to make real connections. They want things that would also be fun in any other context–things that you’ve been wanting to do anyway. And they want to make it easy with childcare, etc.
And whatever your church does, don’t make the men’s events more fun than the women’s events. There was a lot of resentment about this! Women like having fun too, and women are often super stressed and exhausted. So let’s us have some fun and blow off some steam! We’re people too.
If you want women to come, make it meaningful, fun, and welcoming. Fill a need that women already have. And above all, listen to the women in your church!
What do you think? Do you have a #11? Let’s talk in the comments!