We can’t make predictions about fuel prices or home sales or international events. We don’t know what color Pantone is going to pick as “the color” for this year. And we have no idea what baby names will top the list for most popular (Emma? Cornelius? Franco?)
But we might venture into a little prognosticating as it relates to women’s ministry. Because unlike knowing which Hollywood celebrities are likely to break up, or what new gadget Apple will invent, we actually know a little bit about what will impact and influence women’s ministry. So, without further adieu…
Here are 5 trends we predict for women’s ministry:
1. Reaching younger generations of women will continue to be the biggest challenge.
When we’re on the phone, at events and talking in person with women’s ministry leaders like you, we tend to hear the same thing: getting young women to participate is your biggest challenge. And with busy schedules, changing lifestyles, and new technology, it’s a challenge we see continuing.
It is not, however, an obstacle that can’t be overcome with innovation, flexibility and lots of prayer. Young women and teens are genuinely searching for community, true relational connection, mentorship, and support. Your ministry can reach them this year by thinking outside of the box, and by practicing some good old-fashioned one-on-one outreach. And we’ll be here to to help with ideas and tips throughout the year.
2. More ministry events and Bible studies will focus on practical, day-to-day issues like career, finance and parenting.
Though tried-and-true topics like faith, prayer and healing will continue to be relevant, we see a rising tide of popularity with events and resources that focus on practical topics.
Women today are increasingly interested in exploring how their faith intersects with the everyday challenges and to-do’s of life. Teachings that help them to connect spiritually in the midst of their routines and schedules will be very valuable, and anything you can do to model how faith is lived out day-by-day in your life will be greatly received.
3. Informal groups that meet casually in homes or cafes will increase.
While traditional ministry groups have worked well for years (think Tuesday morning Bible study, MOPS, BSF and the like), we’re seeing an emergence of less formal groups of women gathering outside of church-structured programs to discuss their faith and connect relationally with each other. While this generally means less participation in traditional groups, it doesn’t mean that women aren’t still seeking and building vibrant communities of faith. They just operate differently (aka more loosely).
As a leader you might be tempted to feel a little rejected by these informal groups that choose to meet on their own time and independently of church programs (that’s normal!), but instead consider praying about how you can come alongside these groups and support them. God may be raising up leaders among them that he’s calling you to mentor, pray for and teach. Use this opportunity to adopt these casual groups under the umbrella of your ministry and influence.
4. Single moms will be a growing demographic to reach through service, programs and outreach.
Since single moms tend to be in the workforce, they are busy, burned out and spiritually depleted. While their schedules often prevent them from participating in traditional church programs (see #3), they still need support, encouragement and regular prayer. They also often need a hot meal delivered to their doorstep, a thoughtful note, and a night off.
In other words, single moms will be a growing group within your church, community and social circle that your ministry can reach with love, attention, care and prayer. Now is the time to sit down with your leadership team and brainstorm ways you can intentionally reach these women.
5. Leadership roles will transition.
Churches as a whole, and the ministries within them, will continue to experience a lot of change and transition. Some of this will be challenging, prompted by lower church attendance and tightening budgets. Other transitions will unfold naturally as ministry leaders retire and hand over the reigns to younger successors.
Perhaps you are a leader who is planning her retirement from ministry within this year or the next. Now is the time to start identifying your successor (or successors), and begin to mentor and train them for the transition ahead.