With | Women’s Ministry Re-imagined

Last Friday, I was sitting in the 3rd row of a suburban church for their annual Girls’ Weekend Out. The church we’re currently attending in Southwest Baltimore (the epicenter of the recent riots) had been invited to attend at no cost. While this should sound like a fabulous start to a weekend, I was terribly troubled and disengaged.

You’ve probably heard seen me talk  write about trust-based parenting before. It’s probably the best thing that’s ever happened to our family, but it’s also ruined our lives. It’s colored the way we view everything. Now, we’re always looking for real relationship instead of programs–ways to be with people.

It’s definitely ruined my ability to get excited about perfectly-rehearsed worship bands and one-way speaker presentations. Don’t get me wrong, by most standards, the worship was emotional and harmonized and the speaker was hilarious and relatable. It’s just that the performance-based experiences fall so flat when held up against actual relationship–being with people. Girls’ Weekend Out consisted of hours of all the attendees facing the stage and staring at the backs of other attendees’ heads and only a few precious minutes–most of which I spent peeing and stuffing my face (not at the same time)–to actually relate to and be with other women.

I agreed to go to Girls’ Weekend Out because  1)FREE! 2) I will use any excuse to get out and 3) I wanted a chance to be with and get to know and be with the women from our church since we’re still relatively new there.

I’m so thankful for our pastor’s wife who is also relational and thought to plan a post-Session 1 midnight snack at a local diner. Those 2 hours were where it’s at. Women being vulnerable and sharing their lives with each other. The exchanging of ideas in an intelligent, respectful way. Seeking truth together. Conversations and relationships that transcend and outlast the emotional high created by a fog machine, drums, and flashing lights. Those should be reserved for concerts and entertainment. Women’s ministry should be about relationship–being with each other, serving, and loving each other.

Imagine your an unchurched woman and your crazy neighbor (the one with dozens of homeschooled, adopted kids who only talks to you when she has to fetch a ball out of your yard) invites you to go to this thing called Girls’ Weekend Out. You pull up to this looming building with smiling, bouncing women who usher you into a large auditorium. Suddenly the  lights go down; the fog machine starts; and ladies all around you start singing in what looks like a semi-meditative state with their hands up. Everyone seems to know the words but you. A.W.K.W.A.R.D. It’s so awkward that the women from the stage talk about how you had to be brave to invite your neighbor to here.

On the other hand, what if you’d been hanging out with your neighbor because she was constantly loving your kids well and welcoming them to be with her family. You appreciate how you can ask her about or for anything and she still treats you with dignity and respect. You know she understands the stressors in your life the way only another mom can. Then, one day she invites you to get away with her for a night with her friends. There’s good food, even better conversation, and maybe even an engaging game. Every lady there is genuinely glad you’ve joined them, and you leave feeling refreshed and connected. You’re pretty sure every woman there would give you the shirt off your back if you asked.

Who will you be WITH this week? How are you going to step out of the program-paradigm and be relationally brave?

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