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Look Up (Why I Hated Women’s Ministry)

I was in high school when I started hating women’s ministry.   Not hating – I should say “getting annoyed by.”

I never cared for girls nights, and teas sounded downright dreadful, like being made to sit at the grown-up table after you were finished eating to “listen to us talk.”

In college I started ministering to women, but I still didn’t like women’s ministry.  When I confessed that I didn’t like it, as I sometimes did, I was met with confused or offended looks.  Wait, you’re an RA for 70 girls at Liberty University and you don’t like women’s ministry?  Well, yeah.  I like hanging out and praying/teaching/learning.  I like organizing events, and writing curriculum, and discipling girls who really end up discipling me because that’s how it works – but I don’t like…teas.  Or doilies.  Or the book of Ruth, if we’re being honest.

I didn’t have words to express the rub.  Any time I attended a women’s event, it wasn’t BAD, it just wasn’t…something.  Ten years later, I found some words.

This isn’t a commentary on all women’s ministries, or even the ones I was a part of growing up.   It’s very likely that the problem was me.  But I know that I know that I know I’m not alone here.   So if you like Jesus but don’t like church, or you like ministering to women, but you don’t like women’s ministry, maybe I can help put some words to the rub, maybe wipe the fog off of the glass so we can see what’s really bugging us.

Here are the things that bored and irritated me about women’s ministry:

    • The book of Ruth (she was loyal and diligent and she got her prince!)
    • Proverbs 31 (She got up early!  Taking care of a family and a home is hard and noble!  And look, she handled finances and worked outside of the home, too!  Equality!)
    • Deborah (See?  God uses women, too!)
    • Teas (Jesus loves you!  Pink!  Doilies!  Warm fuzzies!)
    • Self-esteem seminars (You are beautiful just the way you are!  God loves you and that is all that matters!)

Here are the things I love about women’s ministry:

    • The book of Ruth (An allegory of Jesus Christ, who redeems us and comes for us who are abandoned and hopeless.)
    • Proverbs 31 (“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”)
    • Deborah  (God calls us to radical courage, radical trust, radical purpose and obedience.  The battle, victory, and glory are His.)
    • Teas (And by teas I mean barbeques.  This is a personal preference influenced by my distaste for cucumber sandwiches.  If you want to pamper me, do it with burgers.  Or smoothies.  I could get on board with a smoothie-tea.)
    • Missions seminars  (There is a great love burning inside of us.  There is a great task at hand.  Let’s get to work.)

When I take a step back and look, the problem is clear:

I don’t like women’s ministries that are about Christian womanhood.
I like women’s ministries that are about The Gospel.

And not The Gospel*

*for women.

Just The Gospel.

I was tired of looking at myself through a Jesus lens.  I just wanted to look at Jesus.

My freshman year of college (in a discussion with my Dad re: my new Bible Study book) I said, “I don’t mind Esther, but… can we read ROMANS?”  I felt the tension way back then, I just couldn’t articulate it.  I didn’t have those words then, but I have them now.

I am tired of hearing about Christian womanhood.  I want to hear about God.

There are of course issues that are women’s issues.  Womanhood is a sisterhood, and I don’t need my femininity to be ignored; I need it to be seen and addressed and esteemed.  But women’s issues are so, so secondary to gospel issues, because womanhood is so, so secondary to PERSONHOOD.  To child-of-God-hood.

To harp on my “women’s issues” at the cost of ever having time to harp on the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus is to miss the whole darn thing.

So, if you think you don’t like women’s ministry, or church or whatever, maybe you’re just tired of looking at yourself.

If you’re OVER hearing how to be a better person and you wonder what’s wrong with you because hearing that “you are a child of God” doesn’t really move or impress you very much – you’re not alone.  I was there too.   I suspect that we are all just starving for The Main Thing.

If that’s you, be encouraged.  You’re not missing it, you’re getting it.   Just look up.   Find a community that looks, and talks, and points UP.

I love this, from Norman Douty (as quoted in The Complete Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford – a book that changed my life, given to me by a women’s ministry leader that helped me look up)

“If I am to be like Him, then God in his grace must do it, and the sooner I come to recognize it the sooner I will be delivered from another form of bondage. Throw down every endeavor and say, I cannot do it, the more I try the farther I get from his likeness. What shall I do? Ah, the Holy Spirit says, you cannot do it; just withdraw; come out of it. You have been in the arena, you have been endeavoring, you are a failure, come out and sit down, and as you sit there behold Him, look at Him. Don’t try to be like Him, just look at Him. Just be occupied with Him. Forget about trying to be like Him. Instead of letting that fill our mind and heart, let Him fill it. Just behold Him, look upon Him through the Word. Come to the Word for one purpose and that is to meet the Lord. Not to get your mind crammed full of things about the sacred Word, but come to it to meet the Lord. Make it to be a medium, not to Biblical scholarship, but of fellowship with Christ.”

I still struggle.  It’s so easy to forget.  This is a reminder to myself and to my own bored, distracted, divided heart.  Look up.  Stop looking at yourself and your life and your habits through Jesus-lens – and just look at glorious, radical King Jesus.

  • http://www.cindywarren.com/ Cindy

    And Cindy said, “AMEN”.

  • Nicole

    I know we’ve never met and I’ve never posted on your blog, but did you write this for me? Did you know I sit in church (when I attend) and have to force myself not to roll my eyes when I’m being told how to be better, but when I listen about Jesus I get goosebumps from the top of my head to the tip of my toes? I feel like this post jumped off my screen and slapped me in the face…in a good way :) Thank you.

    • Claire Webber

      Me too!

  • Jenny Hoover

    I just clapped and smiled! Can we be friends? I will down some burgers and smoothies and the Gospel with you!

  • Cathie

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank you!

  • Kendra Fletcher

    “I don’t like women’s ministries that are about Christian womanhood.
    I like women’s ministries that are about The Gospel.” You just summed up the last 44 years of my life.

    • Aimee

      Preach.

  • Jilayne

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this! You put into words what I have been feeling for quite some time. I haven’t attended women’s ministry events at our church because I have felt so out of place. I am all about biblical womanhood, and we should certainly be educated and encouraged in pursuing biblical womanhood…but yes! Enough talk, no more teas, please….tell me about Christ.

  • http://www.inclineyourheart.com/ Taylee Winder

    My mom and I sit here with our morning coffee—coffee and a cold strawberry pop tart for me (pregnancy=cold pop tarts). She just read this post out loud and as the final word was spoke we simultaneously concluded it with an “Amen.”

    God bless!

  • Lena

    While I do love teas (because I just love tea), this was absolutely on point. Thank you for writing this!

  • Pia

    I agree, so when I led our Women’s Group, I focussed on Christ. I think, just as there was a Mary and a Martha in one family, at odds with each other over whether it’s more important to serve practically or sit at Jesus’ feet, there are women in the church who struggle with this issue. Thank you for clarifying this for so many of us. I always wondered why I didn’t want to get together to do crafts. I can do them at home. I want to learn more about the gospel, real, deep, meaty, theological truths.

  • Katie C.

    That is so funny you wrote this. I also graduated from Liberty with a W.M. specialization. I’m one of the ladies in charge of choosing Bible studies for Protestant Women of the Chapel (an Army program), and we totally steered away from the usual self-help women books and went for getting to know God and Jesus better. We get too caught up in all the extras when what we need is the basics fort and foremost! :)

    • Nikki DaShiell

      Katie, I too have done PWOC for many years and that was one of the first things I thought of when I read this article. I have served on many boards with some pretty amazing women. I think what went “wrong” if I can even call it that, is the studies were almost all about one’s self. It felt so one sided, like what can I get out of this instead of looking at studies and say, “okay God, what are you going to show me?” We had some precepts studies but I think what it boils down to is a healthy medium. There are some that are new in their walks that aren’t sure what to think and some studies may speak directly to that woman that may not speak to me. I may prefer more of the meat and potato studies while others may just prefer more of an appetizer. To me a successful women’s ministry finds a healthy medium. The women’s ministry isn’t all just one way or another. Each women’s ministry is unique and should meet the women where they are but needs to have a strong emphasis and grounding in the Word. I had to take this last year off from PWOC but am starting back up this fall and looking forward to it. They did a survey on what types of studies we would prefer. My vote was for one that would immerse me into the Word and learn about the Gospel. A decade ago, I would have preferred more of the studies that focused more about myself. What I find amazing about God is that he will meet us where we are but are we so focused on ourselves that we fail to see or hear him?

  • KSue

    Every time I read something like this, I end up crying. I miss worship… that sense of losing myself in a group where the focus is upward… and feeling the love consume me. To me, this was a ‘meditation’ that helped center me. The Proverbs 21 woman offends me… not so much because I fall short, which of course I did, but because she embodies ‘Martha’ to me, and I am definitely a “Mary’. I actually needed to find out why a church our family was thinking of joining had us sign a notice saying we didn’t believe God used the ‘prophetic’ gifts seen in Pentecostal churches, and having been a part of a ‘gifts’ ministry previously I asked the pastor to show me biblically where this rejection comes from. He denied me, saying that he would ‘teach’ my husband who could then teach me. HELLO?! I graduated from a ‘non-accredited’ 2 year bible school just because I craved knowing the bible. My husband was a fairly new, fairly unmotivated Christian…
    As a woman in the Christian church, I felt like a black person shortly after slavery ended. Free, supposedly, but not really. Not respected, not able to do what I craved and wanted, but ‘free’ supposedly nevertheless. A ‘second-class’ citizen. Retreats consisted of seminars such as ‘being a godly hostess, where you learned how to adorn your dinner table, etc. I had thought I was a godly hostess because our dinner table always was available to those who had no food at home, because mom was at the bar or they had taken a beating from their spouse. I don’t go to church anymore. I ended up in a mental ward after a breakdown. I couldn’t be what I believed the spirit was telling me to be and meet approval by the church leadership. I do miss it.

    • Minnesotagirl

      Find another church… if you are missing worship that is God calling you back into relationship & fellowship with other believers. Don’t just continue to miss it; try again and you will be blessed!

      • KSue

        I appreciate your response. I have occasionally tried other fellowships, I haven’t yet found one that I feel safe in, and until I do, I won’t put myself back in that dangerous personal place..

        • Thelma E. Lawson

          I don’t know where you are located but have you tried Evangelical Covenant Church Ministry in Minnesota. One I recommend highly they are free in spirit ,teaching biblically sound Gospel and have many connections to meet your needs especially that of worship and learning. I pray God heals your brokenness and hurt so that you may receive all He has for you to do in ministry. Its not what we receive so much but what we give. Time, Talent and Testimony. ECC has churches as far east as Alexandria all the way to Iron river go to CovChurch.org website and check out some churches in your area you may need to travel.

          • KSue

            I had previously attended both Covenant and E Free churches in other places in the country where we had lived, and had enjoyed the fellowship and biblical teaching, and appreciate your post to me. I have found other callings where I am able to give, but not in a church body. I definitely agree that I receive so much in giving, and that is something I couldn’t live without.

    • Duchess16

      It may not have been a slight on you. Some men do not meet one on one with another woman for purity issues.

      • KSue

        Thanks for posting a response. I found out later that he felt as the man was the head of the family, he should learn biblical truths and share them with his wife. Not necessarily a bad idea, because many of my female friends had husbands who would gladly have taken the spiritual ’2nd” in the household, if not for this pastoral philosophy. However, this is only one of very many events that caused me heartache.

        • A Pastors wife

          Your response almost makes ME cry! Get out of that church!! How can you be part of a church that you don’t fundamentally agree with and that believes in such unequality. I would keep trying other fellowships, it doesn’t have to be a ‘dangerous personal space’ – just keep exploring til you find your spiritual ‘home’ where you agree with the basics. Don’t give up. You shouldn’t be asked to sign anything about what THEY believe! (Which is false teaching by the way). If you need to worship God, and these people are not doing that, get out! Look after yourself, and even more importantly, your new Christian husband. He should not be hearing radically conservative rubbish like this that has no place in Christianity today. From a pastors wife who wants to see you grow and thrive, not be stifled and misled and excluded because of you gender or otherwise.

          • KSue

            Sorry for the length of time to respond. I have been away for a week. I appreciate your caring response. This happened very many years ago. I have left the church, but unfortunately, not for several additional years there. In many aspects, it was good. There were a lot of wonderful people there which I still miss. However, the additional toll that it took working as a women’s ministry leader and a youth group leader under this regime left me spiritually gasping for air… and even physically. I did end up having a breakdown, uncertain in my ability to trust the Spirit’s voice within. I was explicitly told by male church leadership that I was not walking in God’s will. My husband and I had opened our home for meals and a safe place to stay to ‘abused’ teens and were bringing them to church. We were seeing wonderful changes in many of their lives. (Unfortunately, one began dating the pastor’s daughter.) These couple experiences are very small compared to the book I could write in the following three years of events that managed to shatter the faith of someone who prayed daily that God would seek my heart and reveal His truth to me. It’s almost difficult posting this, because such a small picture is being painted for you to understand. But God has been faithful to build within me a stronger foundation as a person that had been crippled. So I can see where His hand carried me through those years and since.

          • Thelma E. Lawson

            After serving in a church I loved for almost 20 years God brought in A minister I feel to rescue His chosen people to not simply do church but be a person used by od to transform lives. My Brother who was called to ministry was being used to grow teen ministries he was able to work in various churches and helped build ministries in every church except his own. He finally listened to Gods Voice after many years of brokenness. Launched his ministry God called Him to. He is now a Pastor and though we have been serving over 9 years he still hasn’t received the blessings from the church I know God freed us from. So continue to seek Gods healing through his spirit and surrender your total being and watch God Work as He has done for 1000′s of years but people in their carnal minds choose a Moses lifestyle when Jesus set us all free. When we receive.

          • Frances

            Wow. I’ve SO been there… I will be praying for you. I think you have a combination of things going on. You clearly believe and seek The Lord. You may have been doing too much! Your breakdown testifies to that, because “his yoke is easy and his burden is light”. The scripture ” I can do all things through Him who gives me strength refers to Paul’s being content in any and every circumstance, not to him piling on ministries and trying to do ” all things”. I have greeted misogyny in church as well. Obviously it’s small mindedness and doesn’t belong in church. I’ve also greeted other foibles. Sometimes you need to leave if it’s high up and institutional, other times you have to just be the bigger person. But you should definitely be involved in corporate worship at a place where you really can feel God. What did He say to Mary? Only one thing is required. Hugs. Love to you.

          • KSue

            Thanks for your wise words. And especially for the hugs! Received.

          • Thelma E. Lawson

            Amen.

    • janajuu

      I can actually totally relate. I feel the same way in the church I’m currently in, like basically all I’m allowed to do is change diapers and make casseroles, but that’s not what I’m being called by God to do. When I’ve tried to have input into the discipleship movement which is going on, I’ve been told, “this is not a democracy. God gives the pastors and the elders the vision and you just have to trust their leadership.” and also, been told that “my husband is supposed to disciple me at home.” I’ve had a lot of depression over it, but right I can have a good laugh because I know how ridiculous that is.

      • ser4ph1m

        I don’t have much to say except that God has given you gifts and it sounds like your church leadership refuses to see them and that makes me grieve.
        I’m praying that they have a change of heart to value what God has given you, or that you’re able to find a fellowship that does. (and it is *completely* ridiculous)

      • KSue

        I’m so glad you’re able to laugh. I ‘ve made up a quote that I’ve stood by for years. “Laughter is to the soul as balm is to a wound.” And I do believe in the power of endorphin realeases! The bible even makes mention of laughter and that it is healing. Can you find friends that support the use of your gifts? Because you can’t deny God’s call to you, and if He is calling you, then He must have support for you to do His will as well. Keep your eyes open for that support, even in unexpected places! I salute you.

    • Barbie

      Ksue. I felt that I needed to respond to your comments. That was really a bad experience at the church you attended, and the pastor’s response. It is so hard to find a good Bible preaching church today. I really feel for those who are searching and can not find one. I am fortunate to be a pastor’s wife ….who loves to hear him preach the gospel from start to finish.Don’t let this church discourage you….look for another. Surely there is a church somewhere that shows God’s love and makes people feel welcomed. By the way…I don’t like women’s ministeries either!

      • KSue

        Hi Barbie… I salute you as well, because the calling of a pastor’s wife is a special and important one, and not always easy. Thank you for responding. I am touched by all the responses, and when looking for a church, I’ll keep my eyes, ears and heart open to one with a pastor’s wife just like you!

        • Barbie

          Thanks Ksue. I hope and pray you find a good one.

  • http://www.gracepcho.com/ Grace Cho

    OH MY GOODNESS. AMEN! YES! HALLELUJAH! I want to shout this to the world!

  • http://www.whatsonmymindgrapes.com/ Alice M.

    My friend shared this post with me, as I had written some very similar sentiments a few months back. ;) (http://www.whatsonmymindgrapes.com/2014/01/27/on-motherhood-uncut/) Loved this post! I just remember at staff training back in the day, when they’d have separate guys and girls’ luncheons, and how pissed I was that the girls had to dress up, eat salad, and listen to one of these talks, while the guys got to go miniature golfing and eat BBQ. I would have MUCH rather had the BBQ!

  • Peggy Webb

    EXACTLY. Living in the south, the women’s ministry opportunities here run to teas, hats, chocolates, and makeup lessons. Please. Of course, the men’s ministry goes to hunting, fishing and whittle-and-spit, so…

  • Lyndee

    My husband sent this to me in a PM on face book last night. He knows me……and so do you. You spoke my heart….Thank you.

  • E

    Yes! As a new Christian who was saved as a teenager I was struck by things like these when I entered a Christian college. I felt the lens come on and what had seemed like a striking and independent Gospel message was becoming glittered, painted, and abused. The sappy books I found and the glittery versions or summaries of passages disgusted me. God’s word is for all of humanity to hear and is the same for every human. It is not about how we want to see it, but how God wants to use us through it.

  • Kelly Walenta

    As the lead of Women’s Events ministry at my church, I appreciate your honesty. In fact this summer I spent time talking and listening to young women like yourself about women’s ministries. The bottom line is we are just looking at ways we can share God’s word and Live Life Together as Sisters in Christ while focusing on discipleship.
    With all the going and comings of busy life, we have every excuse in the world to do the hit and run at church. In other words, go, say hi to a few friends, get a Word and then go about our life. We are called to so much more, God command it of us as His disciples.
    So, we are taking a deep looking to all of our women’s ministries and into what God would have us provide in the way of instructing and equipping young women, women of every age since we never stop needing to grow in Christ. Getting away for the standard topics for women, but realizing God gave us Ruth and all the others for guidance. His word is true and our instruction book.

    I love that you ministry one on one and in small groups. Keep up the good work. I hope that you look to your church and have conversations with the pastors and women leading ministries there. Tell that what you need, tell them how God is using you and continue to serve where He leads you. We grow stronger in our walk through the mentoring of other Christians.

  • Lyonnaise

    Hi, if you are interested in having a totally diferent view on the book of Ruth I would advise ‘The Gospel of Ruth – Loving God enough to break the rules’ by Carolyn Curtis James.

  • rozdieterich

    I too vote YES. I was invited to be part of women’s ministry at a former church (a good church, by the way), and I said I would, provided there were no committees involved. They didn’t call me back. But Jesus did ministry face to face, and that’s where I find that upbuilding encouragement takes place.

    Years ago, when I was a new Christian, I had a conversation with another woman about growing in Christian Womanhood, whatever we thought that was at the time. Did we have a responsibility to consciously form ourselves into what we thought a good Christian woman would be? Or should we ask God to help us be open to however he wanted to form us, trusting that since we were women, his formation would include whatever he willed in the area of “womanhood’. I favored the second, and I still feel that way..

  • Pastor John

    As a pastor, my wife just about dreads women’s ministry in the church. Some want her to be the “Women’s Pastor” and she’s like, we already have a women’s pastor – and men and children’s pastor too! Can’t we have “family functions,” and “family bible studies?” Let’s keep our families together as we worship and serve the Lord instead of breaking up our families as soon as we walk in the door of the church! (Thank you for your spot on article. Sorry for the rant.)

    • GrammyB

      I’ve been a “family” with great “events” together with other Christians, then I ended up divorced and kids all grown up. So going to “family functions” was painful. Sitting in a coed SS class was painful, going to their SS events was painful. I sat next to a lady whose husband didn’t want to come to church, she finally quit coming, too. Then there was a Ladies’ Bible Class started and our group consisted of singles, women who came to church without their husbands, widows, and divorced. We studied Nancy Leigh DeMoss Seeking Him, we studied Andy Stanley’s Canvas, we studied the book of John, the book of Matthew, and Andy Stanley’s Christian It’s Not What You Think to name a few — but it was just women, who related to each other because we are women alone. So all I can say is, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. We don’t do teas, but we go out to eat and leave the dishes for someone else. BBQ is more fun when someone else prepares it and cleans up. We have had all ages, including a high school girl in our class, because she doesn’t like HS ministry and cliques! But I do like Nancy Leigh DeMoss True Woman books and classes… because they are so challenging.

      • jake

        I agree, there’s absolutely a place for women’s ministry. My mom has had a great group of women friends who have prayer together for the past 20 years or so. It’s amazing the power those ladies have in the spirit when they get together. They can relate best together as women talking and praying about the issues that affect them without hesitation. They don’t make it all about “women’s ministry” they just call it a prayer group.

      • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

        Yes! I love women’s ministries for this reason and many others. I believe in meeting people exactly where they are, on their developmental and relational level. I love children’s ministry and youth ministry, too. And it sounds like this group that you’ve found is women’s ministry that’s about THE GOSPEL, not just how to be a good Christian woman (though the gospel will always infuse itself into our habits and behaviors). What a blessing! Thank you for sharing!

    • Susan Dennison

      I think I see your point. It seems like the only time we are together on Sunday’s is when we are riding in the car to/from church and there are some Sunday’s when we take two cars! Togetherness is what church should be all about. Ladies ministries have their place particularly for difficult situations but there should be balance when it comes to how groups within the church are formed.

    • Claire Webber

      Amen! I agree!

  • Gina

    I am director of WM at my church which is kinda funny since for years I didn’t really even like being around most women. But God has a sense of humor and here I am with a love and compassion for the women He has brought into my life. I remember when God pulled me up short and started saying to me, “Make it about Me and I’ll show up.” It’s my compass. I get pulled by women craving and asking for fun connection events and there’s definitely a place for that at certain stages in a woman’s life, but if that becomes the prominent focus, we’ve missed the mark…making it all about God, His Word and His love for us, that’s where my passion and calling is. Then allowing Him call the women that need more of Him and the fellowship women bring, that’s His job. Prayers for direction are always greatly appreciated by me and I’d say by all women in WM.

  • Sierra

    I was tired of looking at myself through a Jesus lens. I just wanted to look at Jesus.” Those two sentences put into words EXACTLY how I feel! I’ve never been able to put into words that feeling. Thank you!

  • Rosemary Bogdan

    Lovely post. I totally relate. And I would add the “ladies’ luncheon’ where one is expected to dress up. I thought to myself and why is this supposed to be fun. Yes, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus.

  • LD

    “I was tired of looking at myself through a Jesus lens. I just wanted to look at Jesus.” — Love this one!!

  • cyndi grace

    Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men (and women) to me!” That was what you were longing for and what the women I minister to long for. We need to “get it!” Thanks for this writing.

  • Carrie Medders

    This is truly the best. Thank you for articulating so perfectly what has been bothering me for YEARS!

  • http://womensministrytoolbox.com/ Cyndee Ownbey

    Hey Kate! As a blogger for WM leaders I LOVE to see this kind of conversation! I have witnessed women more concerned with the decorations on the table than whether or not the speaker was going to share the plan of salvation. Even had women complain that 45 min was too long to sit and listen to our speaker…. makes my heart break that so many are focused on the décor and not the message or even the reason for gathering together.
    Be encouraged that many ministry leaders are taking baby steps in this direction. But we have to be careful not to alienate the members that love the foo-foo (the majority of them are the older women in our churches that have held the teas and such for the past 10+ years). Too much change too fast and we will lose the wisdom, support, and assistance from these dear older members.
    One thing our last team did that jump started great change was to get involved with a local women’s shelter. All of our women (of all ages) were excited to serve and love on these women and their children. The focus shifted as we became the hands and feet.
    Praying your message resonates and pricks the hearts of those whose eyes need to be refocused!
    So happy I stumbled upon your post!

  • Linda Kreger

    Yup. Since I was a young Preacher’s Kid required to attend “ladies’ meetings” they made my flesh crawl. “All we women who love Jesus need to blend together like flowers in God’s garden.” Blech. Bleagh. I KNEW there was more to it than that. I’ve taught for many years now, and I have a Bible study blog. I’m a therapist in a Christian counseling office. I’ve been a high school English and history teacher, reared four children, and been a faithful wife for over 45 years. It’s not all flowers and cupcakes, but I loved most of it because I wasn’t hampered by having to have every hair in place and by being sickly sweet. I’m a WOMAN! I love God. He sent His son to die for me, and He rose again so i could have eternal life. Same as for men. How about that? :)

    http://www.lindasbiblestudy.wordpress.com

  • Abigail

    Been trying to express this for YEARS. Just finished high school, recently starting hating the “doesn’t matter what anyone else says-you’re beautiful”, “don’t have sex”, “be modest” talks over and over and over. They are important-yes, but i needed something deeper than that. Not just another “devo for high school girls”

    • Nikki DaShiell

      It is refreshing to hear that from a youth. I deal with youth and very few want to dig into the Word. They prefer the touchy-feely-make-me-feel-good-right-now-words, not His Words that will sustain them for the long haul. Keep digging into his Word. I am a why person. If I am telling a youth to obtain from sex, I tell them why. Right off the top of my head is Song of Solomon 2:7. Be modest, well let me tell you why… I think people are so quick to say to not do this or not do that, that they forget to explain why. Sometimes I wish it would be more of, this is what you can do and here is why. Hopefully there is something you can be apart of or do yourself that can help you dig deeper.

      • Abigail

        I’m sure the youth you’re working with very much appreciate the “whys”
        To know the rules is one thing. To know why the rules exist is a part of worldview. Thank you for investing in youth!!

  • http://lisawomble.com Lisa Womble

    Love this, and can so relate. The funny thing is, a lot of my public speaking over the years has been at women’t ministry events (including the beloved teas). I always feel I should warn them that I do not usually speak on the typical fare they are used to receiving. Thanks for making us feel less alone in this sentiment – and for drawing us to Christ.

  • OsakaWebbie

    You hit the nail on the head for me, too – I thought the reason I didn’t want to attend very many women’s retreats, ladies’ luncheons, etc. was that I am by nature a tomboy. But it’s more than that, and I think you described it well – many women’s events tend to assume all the attendees are emotionally fragile, wounded people who have a complex about their appearance and self-worth and don’t grasp how much God loves them. I’m not any of those things – I am in the trenches of technology-based ministry on the mission field, have a personality that is pragmatic to a fault, and don’t wear makeup. My identity in Christ is not in question. So I want events that help equip me for better ministry or teach me more about Scripture (all of Scripture!), and those are usually events not separated by gender.

    • Samantha Thompson

      Right on! Maybe we should start ministries for “tomboys”. lol. I can only imagine the lectures we would get about being more feminine or lady-like.

  • Bob Meredith

    I hear you. I understand your love for the gospel above all. But I also hear, feel, smell and sense a huge chip on your shoulder, like you’re too good, or better, or farther along spiritually than those who serve snd organize women’s ministries. Here is what I hear, “I want to do it my way, and at 17 or 20, I am wiser and stronger than any married woman who has been at this for 20 years. And I thus will reject anything they lead or teach.” Those women are giving their lives. They are serving a need. I would suggest there may be some pride in your attutude. Both focuses are needed. If you have a pastor who teaches the gospel, and programs and activities that serve whole families and individuals regardless of gender, there comes a time and place for men’s ministries AND women’s ministries. I can be reached at rjmeredith3382@gmail.com.

    • P Schulz

      I see no chip on her shoulder at all! I hear a person whom wants to know more about her religion and wants it to mean something to her. She is part of the flock like every other worshipper.
      I see your comment as “she needs to learn her place” under the guise of “she has pride issues”.
      My wife will never go near a woman only group because she feels that the group puts itself in a box. And that box is weak compared to, say, the men’s box. When one sheds that “I am weaker” identity, one can do more than one thinks. Woman or man. Imagine, Bob, succeeding in a career that is male dominated because you saw no difference in gender roles as they relate to career. That you worked VERY hard for very long and your intelligence and problem-solving skills put you in a position and pay that most men would honestly envy and then you, Bob, enter this box that has a subservient undertone. One that, to me as a happy successful man, tells my wife that she must act a certain “smaller, daintier way” to be accepted. She is just a woman after all, Bob. Right? Wrong. We all worship together as a family.
      Of course women in crisis have a need to speak to speak to a women’s group, but ultimately to separate and give a weaker identity to the women’s side and stronger to the men’s side is not what I believe is constructive to the flock at all.
      There is no inflated “pride issue” that must be addressed here. My family goes to service to hear the Word of The Lord and I celebrate my wife’s and this author’s inability to think smaller!

      • KSue

        Thank you, thank you, and again, thank you. It is encouraging to hear a man speak up for his wife and women. Appreciated.

    • Deborah Winans

      I share my thoughts from this blog, but first I would address Mr Meredith.

      Sir, I give you my respect as I point out how it is interesting to read your condemnation of Ms Conner as being prideful while your anger is palpable coming off your written…okay, typed…words. You’ve spoken very strongly, but seem to have not really “heard” what she is saying.

      Several here are missing something Ms Conner has said. She’s not against women getting together and women ministering. Her emphasis is that we, women need to delve into God’s Word together focusing on the Lord and not allow our focus to be on ourselves through self-seeking helps, gossip in the name of “praying for…”, and taking our time just to meet for our own purposes and not for a greater ministry. The Gospel calls us to “go out” not to stay in, which most Women’s Ministries do. It calls us to “reach out and touch”, not to invite others in so someone else can touch them, or, worse, so we can up our numbers. Most of our American churches have missed the mark with all our programs, events, and fluff. We’re so caught up in what is now known as Cultural Christianity. One where our programs and ministries take the front seat in the name of Jesus, but may or may not even need to exist in a particular church. We would do well to examine each ministry in our churches and ask the Lord which ones He wants us to keep, toss, or bring in.

      I grew up a missionary kid and later my husband and I became missionaries. We’re now back in the States. We’ve been sickened by the emphases the typical American church has on performance. On the other hand, we’re also pleased with the younger generations for calling us out to a more authentic faith, one that doesn’t want to merely sit in the pews/chairs being fed milk when they’re hungry and screaming for meat.

      Please. Let us all…in whatever ministry we find ourselves…make Jesus the main emphasis. This is what Ms Cobner is encouraging us to. Women, pray for one another and others, but do it to see Christ affect people’s lives, not so we can have a place to gossip and call it prayer. Break bread. Fellowship. Even do our scrapbooking and our teas, but make sure that’s not all we’re doing. Our goal as women should be to become Titus 2 women for others.

      • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

        Yes, Deborah, this is the spirit of it, truly. Thank you for sharing!

    • web

      are you the stalker from the old FFF?

      • Barbie

        Bob, this is a very serious matter, not to be made light of. There are so many women and men who are seeking a Bible Preaching church that shares only the gospel. And God’s Love, which so many churches do not do today! Seems to me you need an attitude check! And possibly some of God’s love and compassion.

        • KSue

          And he is exactly the kind of person that used to start making me hyperventilate. Through God’s grace, I have grown into a stronger person with a more solid foundation, but his type of thinking and in such an outspoken way (and, in my experience, rarely challenged in a church body) is what I am fearful of encountering again. I love your encouraging posts.

    • fallssshort

      I read this article pumping my fist with a hardy “Amen”! I participated blindly for many years in women’s ministry. Throughout my twenty years of being a Christian I found that many women’s ministries can be shallow at best and harmful at worst. I know the complete lack and putrid fruit that results.

      We need to get back to scripture alone and not put so much emphasis on “organized” programs. Wouldn’t be nice just to open up the word, read and talk about Jesus? Perhaps if we look unto him the lists like in Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 will naturally be a sanctifying byproduct. Wow! What a concept!

    • http://www.domesticfelicity.com/ Christina Gavenda

      What? I think you’re reading through your own misconceptions, instead of listening.

    • Michelle

      Wow, Bob … I didn’t get THAT feeling at all.

  • Ben Hobbes

    I’ve never read your stuff before Kate, but that was very well thought out, and written. I especially liked where you said “…womanhood is so, so secondary to PERSONHOOD.” Amen

  • James

    I still see the place for many of the things you mentioned, but didn’t like – awful food aside, of course. This ‘women’s ministry’ approach can only be a supplement to what you may learn and experience with regular congregational preaching, teaching, and personal study time. Seems like the real complaints should be that a) these things cannot replace or supersede the Gospel and b) women’s ministry needs some fresh thought towards implementation as it is often ‘traditionally’ (used loosely) carried out as shaped around the view of early baby boomers, or maybe more appropriately, picture-perfect television mother roles of decades gone.

  • Dorthe

    thank you SO much for giving that part of my life words. It is SO spot on – I will save your post and read it again until I remember ” it is about looking UP to him, not looking at my self through Jesus-lenses ” Thank´s a lot and God bless you :-)

  • weddedbliss

    Maybe it can be a bit of both. I co-lead a support group at our church for moms with babies. We discovered that many first time moms go through a major crisis in the first year after their baby is born. Half of our time is devoted to focusing on Christ and how our relationship with Him is what will help us to pull through. The second half of our group time is open discussion on a variety of topics that our moms are facing with a new baby. Yes, let’s point them to Christ, but let’s also be practical and help them deal with the very real struggles they are facing. Sometimes it is so encouraging just to know that another mom is going through what you are.

  • http://www.sbethcaplin.com/ Beth Caplin

    Love this. In my experience there seems to be very little middle ground
    between singles groups and MOPS programs. So where do you go if you’re
    newly engaged or married and don’t have any kids (or don’t know if you
    even want to have kids?).

  • Kathryn Elliott Stegall

    Amen!

  • Claudia

    What you didn’t say (perhaps you were being polite) is that you don’t like being condescended to. “Look, women can serve God, too! They’re almost as good as men!”

    This is how I feel about many singles ministries. They tend to be an afterthought. Interestingly, I’ve always enjoyed women’s meetings.

    • Samantha Thompson

      Yes! What’s up with treating single adults, and especially single women, like second-class citizens in the church? Do we not have just as much to offer as those who aren’t single? Is our worth defined by having or not having a significant other?

  • Debbie Newell

    I don’t even like Women’s ministries where the Bible Studies are written by women! Give me a Bible, a commentary, a Bible dictionary and a decent teacher who can rightly divide the word of truth, and I’m there. But leave the videos at home!

    • Nikki DaShiell

      There is one video series that I enjoy and that is Faith Lessons by Ray Van der Laan. http://www.faithlessons.net I am a visual learner and I love his, That the World May Know series. He makes the Bible come alive for me and gives me a visual reference for what I read in the Bible. I love any study that helps God’s Word come more alive for me and helps me to understand God’s Word better. If you have not heard of this series, watch a few videos of what he has done. You might really enjoy it.

  • Kristi

    I graduated with a Women’s Ministries major, so I agree with you on some points here. But I too believe that Women’s Ministries does have a place in the church, and outside for that matter. I am a single 28 year old, so “family events” don’t work for me only to the point that I don’t have an immediate family. So, doing things with other women is very encouraging for me. I do believe that in many churches our women’s ministries has turned into “church” for women. I have a small group of ladies that I meet with weekly where we “do life”(as one girl calls it) together! Some are married, some are single, some are dating. We share how our GREAT GOD showed Himself faithful in our lives in the past week. We share struggles, prayers, and triumphs. And it is so encouraging for all of us to meet with other women who are like minded and love Christ! I would consider this a part of our “women’s ministry” at our church, because we all attend the same church and it was started as a part of our small group ministry. I do too see how “teas” may not be for some where some ladies LOVE “teas”. So, I think one needs to look at the women in their church, find the need, and work to fulfill it! I do agree though that THE GOSPEL must be the central focus in order for any ministry, women’s or not, to be successful; because that is why we are here right?

  • Mary

    My life just flashed before my eyes… the many, many times I’ve sat in women’s classes or meetings, bored to tears over yet another cheerleading session, wondering when we’d get to ‘the good stuff’, the God stuff; the conferences where meetings were scheduled around mall times and shopping was the main conversation; the more recent times when time and again I’ve been pushed toward women’s ministry and adamantly refused, explaining repeatedly that I’m just not into clothes and hair and shoes that much; to the event about which the leader very recently bragged, stating they’d gotten this wonderful, popular consists for a speaker… and then admitted reluctantly that she didn’t even ask if the woman was a Christian (but wow, she was a great, popular speaker and she’d done this and that in the fashion world!).

    My whole life passed before my eyes, and I sit here alternately nodding in agreement with the article and shaking my head at the frustration of it all.

    • Mary

      Ugh spell check. They got a wonderful, popular FASHIONISTA, not a consists.

  • Sam and Sarah Logan

    I’m so glad you wrote this. It takes guts to call out the nicey-nice of ladies stuff. I have (thankfully) never been asked to arrange centerpieces for a ladies’ event. It would be painful for me to think about decorating for such things. I will go to them, thankful someone else cares about matchy place settings and such. But I don’t go for the stuff – I go to meet and engage women because either the Gospel is the heartbeat of their lives or it isn’t. But I do so much better one on one, without group think or cliches being hurled at me as if it is comforting in my stress-filled life to hear, “God loves you!” Reading The Pleasures of God by John Piper unravels what ‘God loves you’ means, and hit my soul far deeper than a ladies’ event. But I am hard pressed to find a woman who reads such things…there are a few out there. I think women’s ministries often assume we need spoon feeding rather than deep spiritual stimulation.

  • Laura Winbolt Cronk

    OhMyGosh! I read this to my husband and he laughed. He said, “Does she know you?” :-) You put words to my frustration. Thank you!

  • Sophie Timothy

    I so relate to this!

  • BMcGlothlin

    So good! And I’m a graduate of LU, too. MA Counseling 2003. I feel the same tugs as you’re describing here, and I’m so glad you articulated it for the rest of us.

  • Michelle Light

    Perhaps most people that don’t like Women’s Ministry are looking at it from a petrspective of ” what can I get” instead of “what can I give?”. I may not feel like going. I can find 100 other things to do. But, when I go, God usually places someone there that I can be a blessing to. Its about not all supposed to be about me. Its about me, being open to be used by God to influence and encourage other women. Because women need other women. We were built for relationships and we are the better for it. The other iidea- give some input to your Women’s Ministry team. Our church offers bible studies for women, for couples and even small groups that link peopke together by their age range. This is an effort to allow people to build friendship with others who are in a similar place in life. Not everyone has a spouse at church. Women’s ministry should be a place to focus on relationship building, as well as be a place where they can come and be refreshed, and encouraged.

  • pumpernickel

    Hmmm. Very interesting. This struck a chord with me, and I guess maybe this is why I’ve preferred to attend and by God’s grace am now leading one of two Precept International bible studies for women at my church: We are digging through God’s word every week to hear what He has to say to us, plain and simple. By hearing what He says and applying it in our lives, we are getting to know Him more. No snacks, no time of socializing built into the class. Between the two classes, we’ve had an average of 30 women attending every week, doing the weekly homework–and this is in the evening, during the summer! We are very encouraged that so many women are HUNGRY for God’s word, and I think by extension, thirsting for the Lord, and we are excited to see how He will work in the fall when we begin another session. Thanks for the article.

  • T.O.

    I think maybe there are two issues here: one of personality types and one of how the church views women. I don’t like ladies teas, but have been to plenty where Jesus has been sought after, the desire to worship Him was very evident and well, tea and cookies were eaten. I don’t think we need to erase gender in order to be true seekers of God- Ruth is about redemption, it’s also about a woman.

    I think maybe we’re also talking about two different types of gatherings- one meant for strictly fellowship (again, those dreaded teas) and one meant more for pure studying. If you don’t like teas, don’t go. I like girls’ nights, but not “teas”. So I hosted a ladies-only henna party at my home a few weeks ago. If you feel like the ladies you gather with for study don’t have Jesus as their main focus, humbly suggest that you all refocus.

    Solidarity sisters!

    • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

      Yes, this is the spirit of it! Teas can be drenched in gospel-truth. (Also, incidentally, I believe that the way things look matter, that beauty and order and excellence often eliminate distractions and pave the way for people to hear the gospel – so I’m pro-making things lovely, decorating, details, etc.) I love girls’ nights with my girls, (church & otherwise) and love women’s ministry, truly. What I don’t like is when women’s ministries say they’re “diving deep” and proceed to discuss the power of the tongue or Proverbs 31 or how we are all beautiful the way we are. Not every event must be a gospel-sharing event. Lord knows I love a good party. Not every course has to be meat, but the meat should be MEAT. Ya know?

      • Rosanne

        I am all about studying my Bible. I’m one of those nerdy people who look up the Greek and Hebrew, study cultural norms for the times in which the stories took place and get ridiculously excited when God shows me something in His Word – especially when it is in something I’ve read before but suddenly I SEE it, kwim. I’m about the one on one with Jesus so I can KNOW Him, not just about Him. I’m the annoying person on the women’s ministry that wants to know what our purpose is for the fun women’s brunch. Brunch is great, but if it doesn’t have a purpose then it’s not really ministry. Its a social club and quite frankly, I have enough to do without adding more “events.” But I will say, after watching people rip others to shreds with their tongues for years and seeing women be some of the worst at this (all while smiling sweetly), a few lessons on the power of the tongue aren’t always a bad thing! ;)

  • chanin

    I just had this same discussion with my husband. You have nailed what I also dislike about women’s ministries. I get the feeling that there are women (usually the ones who have really awful husbands) who desparately need female support, female encouragement, and even a severe embrace of their value, challenges, and opportunities as women. Maybe traditional women’s ministries are great for them. I am not in that boat and really prefer to focus on the gospel rather than womanhood in the Bible. I have facilitated 2 Bible studies with women in the last year and never even once considered a “woman’s” study. We looked at the person of Jesus Christ instead. Shouldn’t a focus on the gospel draw us all, whether we are men or women, closer to what God wants us to be? Thanks for speaking up and voicing the issue much more nicely than I could have.

    • T.O.

      I think we need to be careful not to fall into an “us and them” mind set. Women who are “desperately in need of support” need to focus on the gospel just as much as the rest of us. How are “traditional women’s ministries” great for them if what you’re implying by “traditional women’s ministries” is non-gospel focused and only “womanhood” focused? Suffering women need those of us who are blessed to be in a better place in our lives to come along side of them and encourage them. They don’t need us to say “I’m not in your boat” so you stay over there while I go focus on the gospel.

  • pameladayton

    My family changed churches about two years ago, when my husband was hired as the audio engineer at a large church. I have made some wonderful friends through the ministries I’m involved in, and they have been inviting me to women’s events. It’s like you are writing my story here, and it’s sooooo timely, because I was asked to speak at an upcoming event. I’ve been struggling to come up with a tea-and-doily-something-or-other, when I’m much more of an espresso kind of girl. Thanks for this.

  • http://www.domesticfelicity.com/ Christina Gavenda

    Yes!!! Can I say it again? Yes!!! Jesus, not performance. Jesus, not self. Jesus, not the story of God and his people read as an encyclopedia. Jesus, not cleaner floors.

  • T.O.

    I think we need to be careful not to turn this discussion into an “us and them” situation. THOSE boring women like their tea and their women’s issues, but WE wild and crazy girls love Jesus more than them and just want swing from the chandeliers (whilst piously studying the Beatitudes. or are the Beatitudes too touchy feely?)! Let’s remember that we’re in this together.

  • Missy

    Totally how I feel!

  • Crista

    Kick butt, sistah! This is fabulous in every way. And I think I might love you. :)

  • Karen @ Candid Diversions

    Yes. Amen.

    I asked my pastor (also my dad), “Where are the Women’s Bible studies where we actually study the Bible instead of how we feel about the Bible? Where’s the theological discussion, instead of cherry-picking of verses ‘relating’ to women?”

    Thanks for articulating this so well.

  • TK

    how do I subscribe to your blog? I love it! thanks! I live in a small town where everyone invites me to “women’s” events…..I never knew why I disliked going. You have given words to my feelings.

  • SN

    Fantastic. We have a similar background–Bible college, college ministry work, etc.–now I’m getting my PhD in theology and philosophy with the boys because guess what…? Women love thinking rigorously about the Gospel too! Well done. Men’s ministries, unfortunately, make similar errors.

  • Charity

    Thank you for articulating what so many of us have felt for so long.

  • Claudia

    Spot on from a much older lady than you. Spot on from one who grew up ‘evangelical’ but never quite fit into the ‘church lady circle mode’. Spot on from the wife of a pastor who wants to be ‘in’ the world doing life! :) Spot on from one who still loves the church!

  • Ken (man)

    The Bible was written by men at a time when women came after livestock. It may be infallible, but it’s not inerrant. Look up the difference.

    • Jennife8

      Ken, I am lawyer turned stay-at-home mom. Your comment commands my attention on many levels.

      Yes, you are correct in saying the Bible was written by men “at a time” when women came after livestock. However, this is not to say the Bible advocates women coming after livestock. It advocates quite the opposite— women were be cherished and loved (Eph 5:25), cared for by not only their husband (1 Peter 3:7), but their husband’s family should they be widowed (Deut 25:5; Ruth 4:5). This was unheard of in that era.

      Personally, I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Think it through. To say otherwise is to say the god of your universe is incapable of publishing a book. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the God I serve. My God is much larger than pens, or, for that matter, the people holding them. He is Sovereign and He is an excellent writer.

      • Cornofstarchy

        Agreed, there may be a dictionary difference of the two words but for something like the Bible, if God’s Word is infallible yet can be errant… well, that’s a problem.

        As for the whole feminist movement thing… there is no equality. There never was. Israel was the wife and God was the husband and to that end, there were duties for both. Jesus is the groom and the Church is the bride and to that end, there are also duties imparted to both. The analogy cannot exist if there is equality. Scripture revolves around this analogy.

  • Jacquie

    Great post, Kate. I’m probably old enough to be your mother and if I could have found the words, would have said similar things 30 plus years ago. There’s a place for teas, retreats, and such, but they really need to be seen as conduits for the MAIN THING –growing to know Jesus more fully and out of the wonder of knowing Him, let His life & love flow through us to make Him known. Ministry, whether women’s, men’s or co-ed, is best when it is the overflow of genuine relationship with Christ. Keep pursuing Christ in all His glorious fullness! The horizon is bright and full of amazing opportunities and adventures as we grow in relationship with Christ and with each other. You are blessed and are obviously blessing many! Keep it up!

  • wangu ngatia

    Totally agree with this!!

  • Shari

    Wow. Thx for putting into words what I have often felt. I love inductive bible study but have always been turned off by topical book studies and I think its similar to his you feel about WM.

  • Samantha Thompson

    This was spot on!!! I have felt this way for so long and, as you said, never had the words to
    describe it. I’ve also often felt like women’s ministry is often a way to get women to act like “ladies” instead of focusing on Christ. As you said, it is often all about “self-improvement”, and the definition of Biblical womanhood is often very narrow. As a woman who is not very girly or traditionally lady-like, I find the idea of their Christ-like woman suffocating. I’m sorry, can we go hiking or play a game of Ultimate for our women’s fellowship instead of sitting around talking about men, and babies, and drinking tea?!? (and don’t get me wrong, I love tea!)

    It often feels like there is no place in the church for a woman like me. Why do so many Christian women think that being a “godly” woman requires you to automatically become a boring housewife with no desire for adventure? I would recommend Christian women look at Proverbs 31 in the original Hebrew and see what it actually says about the ideal godly woman. She is called “eshet chayil”, which translates to “woman of valor”. VALOR, in English, means bravery or courage, particularly in battle. Now does that sound like the same “godly” woman ideal being pushed by most Women’s Ministries? As Kate wrote in the above article, instead of focusing on ourselves we should be brave and fearless in living our lives as witnesses for Christ, and that won’t always look the same way for every woman.

    Check out these two articles talking about the “eshet chayil”: http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2013/september/designed-to-be-brave.html

    http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Blessings/Shabbat_Blessings/Eshet_Chayil/eshet_chayil.html

  • Sharon

    I was beginning to believe there was something radically wrong with me–why was I not excited and clamoring to attend women ministry activities. I thank you for articulating what my spirit has been trying to tell me. I agree with you, Kendra Fletcher. You hit the nail on the head.

  • Zee Marie

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Jane Elizabeth Shu

    I must be obtuse…I love women’s teas and have given a few, which I feel were very successful…so I am a woman who loves to make little cucumber sandwiches and petite fores…I am not much on women’s lib…I enjoy being the submissive one and working behind the scenes…I also enjoy being the soloist and guest speaker when I have something to say. Most of all, I enjoy doing all things to bring glory to Jesus, to be a hostess to those who want to come to teas, and to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the faith that is in me.

  • Mary H.

    Thank you so much for this. It’s like you read my mind and wrote this just for me right when I needed it

  • Jessica

    I teach at a Liberal Arts Christian college and have young women approach me all of the time about this topic – I always struggle to provide an answer. Thank you for doing it so eloquently.

  • http://recklesstrust.blogspot.com/ Anna B

    Yes. A million times yes. I remember being in tears when the our high school bible study men’s group was studying “How Now Shall We Live” and the women were going to read “And the bride wore white” or “When God writes your Love Story” etc. Then again post college when the women’s retreat was on “Tending the Garden of your Heart”. I was ACHING to dig into scripture or deep theology with women (or both men & women). The book We Would See Jesus by Roy Hession rocked my world — quotes similar to the ones in your article about letting all else fall away other than Jesus. Let HIM revolutionize your life by seeing HIM as holy. When we look to other women to affirm who we are instead of looking to Jesus and treasuring who He is, we get caught in the ME focus the church is wading in. Thanks for writing this.

  • Sam

    “I don’t like women’s ministries that are about Christian womanhood.
    I like women’s ministries that are about The Gospel.”

    YES!!

    This perfectly hit on the head why I have so many issues with women’s ministries at church, even though I love interacting with other women in my church.

  • Ben

    “But women’s issues are so, so secondary to gospel issues, because womanhood is so, so secondary to PERSONHOOD. To child-of-God-hood.” Hi Kate, I was hoping you could clarify what you meant by this? What do you mean by personhood? How do you define it? Are you paralleling that gospel issues is personhood? Thanks in advance for answering these questions. God bless the week ahead. Brother Benjamin

  • Ben

    Is personhood a gospel issue?

  • Brianna Connaghan

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Reading this was awesome. I’ve been to a number of women’s ministry events and they’ve never been bad, but mostly I’ve felt like something is missing. Something isn’t getting hit on the head. You, my dear sister in Christ, have hit the nail on the head; soundly and on the first try. Again, thank you. And thank GOD that He put this on your heart.

  • Jean Ann

    Yes!! Finally! I am 60 years old and told my husband I want to attend the men’s bible study. In fact, why is it just the men’s study. Why can’t we all have meaningful deep discussions about the Bible, theology, ideas? Best I can get is second hand from my hubby after he goes each Saturday morning. Thank goodness he enjoys discussing it with me.

  • Tim Ogle

    The same can and should be said about men’s ministry.

    • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

      I agree! I think that men’s ministry has value and a place, but that it’s okay to sometimes NOT TALK ABOUT the evils of porn and the soul-healing properties of getting outdoors (though I personally think both are true) – so that there is room to talk about other things. Same principle.

  • Lori Travers

    Amen! thank you, thank you , thank you. As one who’s been in women’s ministries much of my saved life, I wanted the depth of HIS character to be taught and to teach. All the teachings on “do this” or “don’t do that” or “do it this way…not that way” NEVER, ever can change one’s heart attitude. Only the Lover of our souls can readjust our thinking and free us from the bondage of guilt and shame. Then we can be free to live for Him and truly have a heart transformation.

  • Trina

    Wow! That was perfectly written. Thank you for sharing this. As a ministers wife of 19 years, it is so true that churches tend to form classes and programs which center around the betterment of us. And we spend less time looking just at Jesus Christ… That needs to change.

  • MamaBuff

    If I have to hear another “Deborah was used by God to make men look back and kick their butts into action…” I might barf on my shoes.

    But I like tea :)

    • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

      THIS.

  • Anna

    Have you ever taken one of Dr. Brennan’s classes at Liberty? What did you think? Yes, she teaches us who we are in Christ as women, but she teaches the Gospel and who God IS at the same time. The priority is who God is, and who we are in response to him, not the other way around. I hate the fake tea parties and female gossip and laughter and all that too (although I do like pink!) I am more interested in learning more and more each day who God is, so that I can rest in being his beloved daughter.

  • Claudia Sneigoski

    AMEN!!!! I have gone to “women’s” seminars and find them completely insipid. I suppose, for baby Christians they are encouraging, but for me it’s just a lot of milk. Get me to that barbeque! :)

    • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

      I feel like I need to
      clarify here. I don’t believe that all women’s seminars are filled with
      “spiritual milk,” and more to the point, I don’t believe that issues
      related to self-esteem, gossip, wife-hood, and motherhood are the spiritual
      milk that the writer of Hebrews is talking about. To say so is to imply that
      women who struggle with issues that are largely (though not entirely) specific
      to womanhood are less mature than those who don’t; and I don’t think that’s true.
      I know many women that are rooted deep in Christ and still struggle in
      those particular ways.

      I would also hate to imply that
      “baby Christians” should start with self-esteem-y women’s issues and
      move on to weightier gospel-truths as they grow. In fact, I am asserting
      exactly the OPPOSITE. I believe that the gospel is the starting point. I
      believe that The Gospel (Jesus in my place) is simple enough for children
      to understand, and glorious enough to cause Bible scholars of decades to fall
      to their knees in praise. We are saved by grace, and grow in grace – we all
      need gospel-truth and gospel-words all the time. I think that’s why we weary so quickly of gender-specific
      teaching – because we are all starving for The Main Thing.

      I am also very wary of the “us/them” mentality implicit in milk-for-you,
      meat-for-me. There are of course ways
      that we grow in understanding and application of our faith – but mature
      believers shouldn’t resent the teaching of “milky” truths. They should remember them tenderly, fondly,
      and rejoice in them. When we outgrow our
      love of the gospel we’ve grown into pride.
      In the family of God there are no better/worse truths or better/worse
      people. There are just brothers and
      sisters. I believe that the gospel is both
      milk and meat, and I support the frilliest, girliest event that communicates “Jesus
      in my place.”

      • Claudia Sneigoski

        Point taken. : )

  • Mtigg

    It’s great to have those get togethers for when you need that extra encouragement or going through something specific. She’s not knocking that in this article. What she is saying is that when participating in ministry it’s best not to sugar coat and refer to self help books. The main goal of the body of Christ is first and foremost the gospel and studying the word. Yes, we should also have those separate women and men get togethers but let’s not put that in place of studying God’s Word. When a church or organization puts the Word of God first, the rest will come as consequence. As a former Bible student at Word of Life, even during seperate devotions the main priority was dealing with root problems first. It’s amazing how much you think you know about the Bible to find out that you were only scratching the surface.
    We need to realize that the Church is not a place to help deal with individuals problems, it’s a place to grow an understanding of God’s Word.

  • Sister in christ

    as I read your article I decided to write you which I normally never answer these things. I can understand how you could feel the way you do but I don’t think you’re looking at all sides… I have been the Women’s Ministry Director for some years now. This is what I have seen from the ladies of our church fellowship and others. 1st the Gospel includes what God has made, the Word, the Church and all that enter. That includes all ages and elderly women who are alone alot still enjoy teas, bar-b-qs are nice and something to include, thanks for that suggestion. Elderly women can’t get around as easily as the younger & what we all need to understand it’s not about us it’s about God & His plan.
    I’ll be honest with you it’s hard to know what the younger women want when they never participate, never show up. You pointed out some things you don’t like about Ruth, Esther, Proverbs 31 woman, etc. We can’t choose to just study the points that intrigue us, God tells us to study the whole WORD, you can’t take the Word out of context because if you do you’ll never have a true close relationship with GOD. He put it all together.
    yes I’m sure that some of the events would be boring to you but how about joining in and adopting a grandmother & showing the example of Paul by loving her you’ll be surprised at how God will grow your walk with him. I can’t begin to tell you what He’s taught me through working in the women ministry’s , it’s can be very challenging.
    How can you be bored with Christ’ church, was He??? Sweetheart God made Christian womanhood, study Titus, how can you be tired of it????
    If I have offended you I’m sorry but we have got to come together as a whole, our struggle is with Satan.
    Love you

  • Christie

    I love this article, but I want to mention something very slight. You mentioned you “don’t like women’s ministries that are about Christian Womanhood” and I totally get the point. I am a doily-hater myself. But we need to be careful in that area as well because real and true Biblical Womanhood has nothing to do with teas and doilies, but about how we glorify God AS women. Yes, absolutely, the Gospel and our identification in Christ is and should be paramount – but we must not emphasize a genderless Christianity to the point where we ignore or belittle the fact that in our personhood, God has made us male and female. We only get one chance to be male and female (since my understanding of scripture is that we will be neither male nor female in Heaven). Yes, let’s gaze on Christ – but we do need to make sure that we are giving women a new vision for Biblical Womanhood that is not tied to roles, doilies, or teas. We need to show them how to respond to the Gospel in a uniquely feminine way. Paul talks about testing our lives and doctrine to make sure they are in line with Christ. To a degree, a woman who gazes on Christ will become more and more like him, but it is not intuitive to most women I know to learn to step back and follow the leadership of godly, imperfect men (including the women who are single). I think what we doilie-haters hate most is the dumbing down and de-glorification of our womanhood. We are intellectual. We are emotional. We are grace-filled and grace-driven. We are single, married, divorced, widowed, mothers and childless. Our womanhood is so much more than our relationships and our fertile state. So we need a new vision of womanhood that allows for strong women who glory in knowing their own strength and identity in Christ and glorifying God and displaying the character of true womanhood in all its glory.

  • Amy Kannel

    yes. so much yes.

  • KV

    amen. You have just articulated exactly how I feel about SINGLES ministry. Let’s get on with Kingdom business.

  • Justme

    Thank you. Thank you so much.

  • adeline

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! Oh, I disliked women’s ministry too before because so much of it was tea and cookies and sharing of recipes and I do not like to cook. I prefer to digest and analyze the Word, learn it, chew on it and grow on it. Women’s Ministry is so boring when it is all about the social aspect. I now lead a women’s bible study. We do pure Word. It’s more fun this way. :-)

  • Amy Waters

    Yes, yes, yes! I joked for years that I was going to write a response to a certain very popular Christian women’s book that attempts to reach the heart of a woman (and in it’s defense – they do have their finger on the pulse of where women are). I wanted to call mine “Captivated.” Self esteem will rarely go up by thinking of yourself more. We need to fix our eyes on He who is of supreme value. Somehow our own worth doesn’t matter quite so much when we are thinking about His. You hit the nail on the head. “I don’t want to hear about Christian womanhood. I want to hear about God.” Thank you for such a great post.

  • random_charm

    This. Thank you.

  • Raleigh

    I’ve been struggling with this lately – I’ve been avoiding joining a discipleship group at my church, because this is the tendency of a lot of the programs! As a young, single woman, I’m so tired of doing studies and having conversations about how to be a better woman (with the implied “so you can get married someday soon” attached). I want to learn more about Jesus. I want to be so fixed on Him that everything else follows. Thank you so much for putting words to this. :)

  • Richard Coffeen

    OK, who are you? Clear, sharp writing combined with Christocentric analysis that speaks, not just to women’s ministry, but to all man-centered church activity. Be encouraged, Mrs. Conner, in that your article blessed my family this morning. Keep bringing the word!

  • Mary Ann

    How can the gospel be most effectively spread around this world when half the population is prohibited from teaching & preaching – or they are only permitted to teach & preach to half the population. So called ” feminism” in religiosity is not about womanhood. It’s about allowing all of God’s children the opportunity to exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Finally, if the gospel is interpreted with gender bias & without an understanding of context, God’s true meaning is missed. To me, both of these examples are critical “gospel issues.”

  • William McPherson

    I think that part of the problem is that we all have culturally different definitions of what biblical manhood/womanhood are. What a man is in the deep South in the United States in not necessarily the same as in Hong Kong, China. It seems to me that your main complaint is against the manifestations that women’s ministry have taken that are unappealing to you. This is completely understandable, but going back to the nature of your post, this is not necessarily about you. If you live in the deep South many women were reared to be a certain way (some of it can be traced to Scripture, some of it is purely cultural), thus women’s ministries will be formed to appeal and minister to those types of women. It would kind of crazy and unwise to ignore the dominant demographic of women. That being said, perhaps your demographic does need to be reached by women’s ministry; you want something different. Perhaps it would be more helpful for you and other young ladies like you to help with the current ministry and make connections with the other women leaders. After they see that you want to be a part of the ministry and not dictate the agenda, maybe they will be more open to your ideas. Plus, when more women like you attend these events, that opens the door for other women of your demographic. Also, you could start your own subgroup to participate in the kind of activities and teaching that you desire, while participating with the large group.

    A bigger issue I have is you imbalance when it comes to the faith. Yes, the Scripture points to Jesus and yes, Jesus is what ultimately matters. Jesus did not call himself the way, truth, and life hypothetically; he is all of these things. However, we cannot ignore who we are; we cannot act like our lives are insignificant. There is a tension at play here: We are sinful and not worthy of our Awesome God’s attention, and yet…he showers us with attention and affection. Our worth comes from the worth he gives us, not what is intrinsic to us. However, we are still valuable and worthy becomes of that worth he has given us. Part of the faith is knowing God and being changed by that intimate knowledge, but the other part is getting to know ourselves and who we were made to be in relation to him. If we were constantly looking at the doctrine of Christ without pulling that doctrine into all aspects of normal life; we would become no good on this earth. We were created to live and its through living that we were to manifest ways to worship God; sin changed that to where we find manifold ways manufacture idols. Yet, we are still called to focus on who we are in relation to who he is, that is only way we can apply and live the Gospel out in our lives.

    For example: the issue of worship. There are many Christians who over indulge in “feely” worship music that sounds more like the worship of emotion or a drug high than a focus on God. This is painfully true. However, there are also Christians who are so focused on singing doctrinal songs about God that who God is in relation to them is never real to them. The answer is that we worship God for who he is because of what he does in, through, and around us. We are aware of who we are because we have seen who he is, and that causes us to respond. “Man-centered” and “God-centered” are false labels given by the overzealous. The Gospel is wonderfully about God in Christ, but it also about us and what it all means for us.

    Why would we love and worship God if he did not do anything to prove that love? We love because he first loved us, but yet we still love in response. Think on that.

    • Madthebad

      Yes! You nailed it. A lot of this blog post is a put down of “self focused” women’s ministry out of the AUTHORS opinion that it needs to be more Jesus focused. ? I feel like there was no grace for anyone who might not be at the same level as the author, or might structure things differently, and that is not the Gospel. I completely understand her point in having a hard time with certain styles of running a women’s ministry or teaching, but at root it the Word of God is going out (in context, etc) then it IS going to accomplish what God is sending it forth for, and we are not in the position to place a judgement on that. The mature christian should be the one going “Ok, not my style, not how I would do things, but if all the doctrinal wickets are being hit, then I rejoice.”

  • Lynn Read

    This. THIS! You have no idea how long I have struggled with feeling this way and never. I have never been able to put it into words. Reading this was like having a huge weight lifted off my soul. My husband is in seminary and one days hopes to be a pastor and I’ve struggled with wondering how on earth I could be a pastor’s wife when I am so over “women’s teas” etc. This just hit the nail on the head for me. Thank you so much for writing this.

  • Dawn

    you have some good points here, but there are women out there whose mothers never mentored them in things like caring for a home, husband, children, etc. They’re missing basic skills. It is important to see Jesus in the things we do, but things like a tea for example help a woman practice hospitality…we have hostesses sign up, decorate and prepare ‘tea’ foods to serve 5 or 6 women. We’re actually going through the book of Romans in our morning worship service…currently see a lot of women who just don’t have the background to know how to cook, clean, serve, etc.

  • Melinda Henderson

    The women of the Bible are great, normal, and wonderful women. Women’s ministry is totally about cliques. Period. How Women’s ministries are enacted in churches is why I hate women’s ministries. The people I hate being around the most are other women. Children are wonderful. the men are wonderful. Women in any church as a group – no, unless you just love hearing gossip, being around cliques, or just enjoy being around harpies.

  • Mary Jo Laupp

    And as someone who has gone most of her young married life on with no “older women” to be mentors/disciplers, I ache for the camaraderie that comes when women who love Jesus share a conversation about him. It just isn’t the same with my “just the facts please and don’t muddy things with emotion” male friends. Women can provide unique fellowship for other women even while following the master. Take it from me, a complete LACK of chances for women to do what is commanded in Titus 2 can be annoying as well!

  • Laura Mizvaria

    Totally agree with you on all this. Thank you for putting this into words. (Except I like hamburgers AND cucumber sandwhiches.)

  • Guest

    right on. I have a ministry and we were discussing bringing it “under” our church, but things are fitting right. I prayed for guidance and found your blog. my vision from when I first start (bring woman of all ages into a deeper relationship with God) was reconfirmed. It’s not about women’s ministry – it’s about Christ. thank you.

  • http://www.reneefisher.com Renee Fisher

    Thank you for expressing what so many women feel, including myself. Now that I’m married in my 30s with no kids, I still resent women’s ministry because it seems like I never fit into the boxes churches create for “Singles” or “Women’s” ministry.

  • Lydia

    How true! Hope you will read Hannah Anderson’s Made for More: An Invitation to live in God’s Image. Fits very well with what you have written here.

  • Sofia

    Find it a little ironic that you struggle with being in “women’s ministry”,yet that is who you minister to…women!

  • Brenda

    Oh Kate… I, too, am guilty of “Loving Something Different”….the title of my yet unpublished inspirational book. After years of herding cattle in the mountains, hauling show horses all over the country with my darling daughters, and putting up hay when it’s 100 degrees with 100% humidity, it’s nearly impossible to identify your feminine side…let alone being concerned with how you’re wired. Knowing how my Savior is wired concerns me more…and the diligent search to know Him better each day is my joy. Scrutinizing the woman’s role…the woman’s place…the woman’s goals… takes time away from seeking God’s role…God’s place…God’s FACE…and God’s grace.
    Mom always told me not to ask if something was right or wrong…ask if it’s best. For me, researching God and His word is best.

  • Jasmine

    God spoke to me through this, so thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I know what I have been doing wrong now, I guess it’s been staring me in the face. “Don’t try to be like Him, just look at Him. Just be occupied with Him. Forget about trying to be like Him. Instead of letting that fill our mind and heart, let Him fill it. Just behold Him, look upon Him through the Word. Come to the Word for one purpose and that is to meet the Lord. Not to get your mind crammed full of things about the sacred Word, but come to it to meet the Lord. Make it to be a medium, not to Biblical scholarship, but of fellowship with Christ.” Amen. Thank you. Don’t stop. The Lord is using you. :)

  • http://simplylivingthelife.com Becca Ramirez

    Thank you. Seriously. I’m in a…challenging stage of life, figuring out the balance of being a stay at home mom to 2 little girls and the only real outlet I’m pointed to is the mom’s group. They are wonderful women, but the focus tends toward being an awesome mom or an amazing women of God. They aren’t as focused on just being a great follower of Jesus. Period. It’s challenging, but this helped. I know that there can be amazing groups of women who get together to watch football games or work out together or even go eat bbq after getting pedicures–because pedicures are awesome and so is bbq. Like you said, it’s not about diminishing our femininity, it’s just not making that the only focus.

  • Bea Wags

    Love this! I’m right there with you. I grew up in a Baptist church and went on to a Baptist college and every ladies event I went to every word just grated on my spirit. It wasn’t that what they were saying was wrong, but I wanted something… different. I had to come to the place where I realized though that just because it wasn’t “my cup of tea” that didn’t mean it wasn’t exactly what the person sitting next to me needed to hear. I craved deep and analytic and thought provoking (sometimes slightly heated) discussion about doctrine and “things that really matter”! It took a long time for me to take a step back and realize that the Holy Spirit speaks to each person differently – that’s how God made us. We all respond to interaction differently, so He has to deal with us differently. I think that for a long time Christianity as a whole pushed the “meek and quiet” thing so much that women (like us) were made to feel like we should just be quiet – or become women pastors. But I think there’s a happy medium there. God’s given me a voice and I’m going to use it for His glory – no matter what people might say. I’ll take the comments in stride and go on my merry way with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Blogging is a great way to use that voice! http://goingpublicwithgod.wordpress.com/

  • Sbmcd

    Amen!

  • Ronnie Dealy

    Yes…I turn the other way from books telling me how to turn to Jesus, when all I need is the Word open and some space.
    I have seasons, though, when I appreciate looking at my womanhood IN CHRIST (when the world’s taunting me as a woman, e.g.), whether that’s for one hour or one moment in a day, so I’m leery to place my worship from one box into another.
    That’s the radical, mysterious swell with my Lord–let Him lead me around the next bend!
    Thanks for your insight!

  • Jen Gray Booth

    This was refreshing to read! I’ve been struggling with the same issues since my Bible college days…then through my seminary days…and now my church ministry days :) . I often say that women’s ministries aren’t all that different from day care programs… There are yummy snacks, a craft time, and any lessons are geared toward short attention spans…

  • Brooke Stark

    I agree with your point that women’s ministry, any ministry, should be focused on the Christ Himself and the gospel. For five years, I led a ladies Christmas tea as a gospel outreach. It was a dessert fellowship and tables were anything from grandiose to paper products because the table was not the emphasis. We had over 600 lafies in attendance with many, many unchurched visitors that we could not get into the church without such events. As a sister in Christ and co-laborer in the kingdom of God, I think you are too critical of other women and your words are unfair to someone, like myself. We are not all the same. Please be careful on how antagonistic you are when speaking out in the future. Blanket statements are lacking in grace.

  • Cassie

    AMEN!!

    We should be friends! ha :)

  • DréAn

    Powerful post. Thank you for sharing

  • blessing

    My concern is the perception people have of women in ministry. I am a competent administrator but my decisions can be overturned by my peers at the same level as me because they are male. When i am aggressive about a way forward, its remarked that i am aggressive for a woman. When we have function, irregardless of who is hosting or organizing, women are the defector host/clean up crew/make people feel welcome. Proverbs31 has been translated to mean every woman, all the time to any and all available males. This is blatant sexism, in the circular world, we would call it out but in church, why is it so hard?I hope churches don’t actively suffocate or mold every female in the image of biblical characters.

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