This has been the function of women’s ministry in the American church since I joined it 20 years ago: come to women’s Bible study where we watch a famous lady on a screen talk about her experience with the Word of God. And then maybe stay for a craft.
Over coffee this morning a new, young, church-planting friend lamented that this model of women’s ministry is failing. She wanted to know how to reach women now. We both mourned some of the false teaching coming from the famous ladies these days, as well as the reality that programs simply are not attractive to young women in our city anymore. We agreed that women’s ministry in our churches has got to change.
I recalled a statistic I had read in a book a few years back. Researchers asked 1,000 unchurched twenty-somethings if they’d be willing to read the Bible if a friend asked them to. 61% said yes. Six out of ten twenty-somethings will read the Bible with you, if you just ask them (see Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them).
I don’t have the full answer to women’s ministry going forward. But I sincerely believe it includes an element of simple Bible reading with a couple friends. Women who’d rather not set foot in a church can learn about Jesus with you over coffee. You, who already believe, can deepen your faith as you read with her and another. My experience is that meeting in pairs isn’t sufficient because you get used to one another and don’t hold one another to a standard of reading and digging and growing. But meeting in groups larger than four can also deplete the returns.
Give it a try and see what you think. Grab two or three other gals and start meeting weekly and going through a book of the Bible. Invest a couple of months in this mutual discipleship and see what happens. This is a simple, organic, and doable approach to growing in the knowledge of God. Trust me, you do not need training or credentials. You truly just need friends and a Bible. If, however, you feel like you must consult an expert before you dive in, I recommend “Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds” by Jen Wilkin.
Let us redeem this season, church. As we pick up the pieces to programming that has disappointed us, may we seek Grace and Truth for ourselves. May we “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).