Tuesday, April 13, 2010

woman to woman (3) when women's ministry doesn't happen

"I long for an older woman to encourage me, but I can't find anyone!" Have you heard a young woman say these words? Perhaps, like me, you've been that woman!

In this post, I brainstorm with some friends about the reasons older women don't encourage younger women. Which of these have you observed? What would you add?

It's a common story: again and again, I speak to young women who long for an older woman to mentor them, but who have found no-one with the time, energy or inclination to do so. On the rare occasions when older women do mentor young women, biblical womanhood is often missing from the agenda.

Why aren't older women teaching and training young women in godly womanhood? My friends and I brainstormed and came up with some possibilities:

  • Women in western society often live isolated lives because of the breakdown of traditional society, which is unlike many places where women still spend much of the day in each other's homes.
  • Generations are deliberately separated in society and church, in contrast to a time (say 50 years ago) when women of different ages mingled freely.
  • Many churches have age-specific congregations and small groups.
  • Many young women don't respect older women and what they have to offer, while many older women are self-absorbed and lack interest in women outside their family circle.
  • Different generations have different understandings of ministry: young women may expect formal mentoring and teaching, while older women may not feel equipped for this.
  • We have a cultural tendency to resent unsolicited advice and to seek counsel only from experts or close friends.
  • It can be hard to find time and energy for women's ministry after working in a job or caring for your family and home all day.
  • The majority of married women with children return to work soon after their children go to school—sometimes for financial reasons but also often because of the pressure of feminism, careerism or materialism. This leaves little time for ministry to women.
  • Single women now usually have a full-time job, which limits their ability to be involved in women's ministries during the day and limits the time they have to encourage younger women.
  • Women's programs often emphasize events rather than teaching, training and mentoring. Where there is teaching, it is often not purposefully applied to women's lives.
  • Feminism makes us uncomfortable with teaching on biblical womanhood (especially its practical application) and makes us embarrassed to pass on ‘womanly’ skills like household management.
  • Some churches have lost an entire generation of women to Liberalism.
  • There's some opposition in egalitarian circles to women-only ministry. My friend who wanted to train women in mentoring was told that women should be teaching only mixed groups. Furthermore, women often see little value in only teaching women as opposed to having the opportunity to teach everyone.
As we encourage women's ministry to women, these are some of the obstacles we may have to overcome.

you can read the full article here

image is from stock.xchng


Bek H said...

Hi Jean,
I found your point on being culturally isolated, verus spending much of the day in each other's homes quite pertinent. Now living in a community of Moore College students, I've found it at first a little strange and at times a little hard to leave the front door open and be available for pop-ins, but I think even harder to do the pop-in for fear of catching someone at "a bad time" etc. But its something that I'd really like to be able to learn, not just for now, but for when we move on from here too.

Jean said...

Yes, Bek, it's hard to learn - especially for introverts like me! But pop-ins are such a blessing, even for introverts, I've found: they lift my eyes from the mundane chores and my "to-do" list and leave me feeling encouraged and energised, even when I'm tired by them too (if that makes sense!). I'm sure this is the way we were designed to live - and one reason that women struggle so very much with being isolated at home with kids all day. So we go to work to fill the gap, and miss one another's encouragement. It's such a sad aspect of modern Western society.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Jean, I am so loving your blog.

If only I didn't have kids waking me up at the crack of dawn, I could read it all night. But I am SO glad you have an email subscription box so I can keep getting more!!

Blessings from Texas!