Women’s Ministry?

One of my pastors (and good friend) has recently put a lot of energy into convincing me to participate in a women’s ministry focus group at my church.  Based on how that conversation went down, I believe this is a result of the Women’s Creativity Nights (next one is on September 18th!) and my women’s 12-step group being mistaken for women’s ministry.  I will return to that in a moment.  The weird thing is, this isn’t the first time this has happened.  At my last church there were several women who were under the impression that I was in fact running women’s ministry because I would have girls nights once in a while (an event where we would eat brownies and watch movies, but in a very spiritual way).

I grew up in a Baptist church, and I have much love for Baptists in a lot of areas, but I have an issue with how they treat women.  I won’t go into the full rant, but sufficed to say that the way women’s ministry went at that church was not something I found compelling.  And in retrospect (and by that, I mean viewed through my now unapologetic feminism), I find a lot of the bible studies and women’s groups that I attended to be veiled attempts to make women content in their subservient positions by couching it in spiritual rhetoric and patching up their shredded self-esteem.  They also were an opportunity for women with leadership potential to actually lead something without the messy issue of “ruling over a man.”

Furthermore, I think way too many church things are divided into gender specific groups because we operate out of a fear-based mentality.  This causes us to make decisions based on the worst case scenario, and by doing that, we miss out on a ton of opportunities to connect with other Christians and yes, become more mature and rational adults.  I do regularly pray for men, even one-on-one.  I think women can lead men, and men can lead women.  I don’t have a problem with a man mentoring a woman or vice versa.  As that same pastor/friend said, if we were in a business environment we would just expect men and women to treat each other professionally.  Surely with the added power of Christ we can accomplish at least that much.

So why do I do all this stuff with just women?  Well, I do have a profound desire to empower and inspire women.  I want to help the women around me to believe they can do stuff that they didn’t think they could do before.  After a Women’s Creativity Night, my very favorite thing is when someone says “I really want to go home and do something creative!”  Because at that moment, I feel like I got to be a part of a woman realizing that she can do something new and beautiful.  I am oh-so-excited about my women’s 12-step-group because I really think that any woman who makes it through all 12 steps will have a massively better life at the end than she does right now.  I get to be a part of that, I get to help.  That excites me.  Also all the women in my group are awesome, that helps too.

To sum up, I have discovered that the stuff I do with women is an extension of my feminism, which is about as far from my Baptist roots as I can get.  It is a very different thing than a Beth Moore bible study at a Perkins in a Saturday morning.  It is different than equating enjoying a man’s company with an extramarital affair (thank you, Every Woman’s Battle).  It is different than making women feel relegated to a tiny pink category that is full of shame and repression.  And I’d like to be at that focus group so I can say something like that.  But you know, nicer.

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