Why Do We Need Women’s Ministry? by Sharon Jaynes

I was flipping through my local newspaper and noticed a calendar of events for the week. For the first time, I perused the list to see what was happening in my fair city. Then a stark reality hit me and I began to count. In that one week, there were one hundred forty-six support group meetings scheduled. There was everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to Codependents Anonymous to Recovery from Food Addiction. Then over to the side a note read, “If you’re looking for a support group not listed here, call …..” Once again I was struck with how desperately people need encouragement and support, and how they will go just about anywhere to get it.
 
Women need encouragement as never before. Because of the trends in our society, women feel isolated, disconnected, and stressed. They no longer have the family support and sense of community support that was prevalent just a few generations ago. Between 2012 and 2013 35.9 people relocated in the US. That’s 11.7 percent of the population.[1]

We once sang, “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go.” But because we live in such a transient and mobile society, grandmother’s house, in many incidences, is no longer over the river and through the woods, but across several state lines. And when you get to grandma’s house, she’s probably not at home, but out with her rollerblading club, on an Alaskan cruise or at water aerobics class. Grandmothers today live very busy and active lives of their own.
 
Not only do women not have the support of family readily available as in times past, they many times do not have the support of neighbors, nor do they feel a sense of community where they live. Where we once had a welcome mat at our front doors, we now have a warning sticker alerting those who approach that we have an alarm system. We’ve moved from welcome to warning and many of us don’t even know our neighbors right next door.
 
Charles Swindoll, in his book, Come before Winter and Share My Hope tells of a time in America’s history when men and women discovered the necessity of joining together.

It occurred when “Go west, young man!” was the challenge of America…when squatter’s rights seemed the most advantageous way to pry families loose and dare them to brave the elements via the covered wagon.
 
So out they came, exchanging the crowded, soot-choked industrial cities back East for the open plains, clear skies, and fertile, albeit rugged, farmland of the West. Predictably, those early settlers built their cabins or sod huts smack dab in the middle of their homestead, acres (often miles) from the nearest family. Strong, sturdy fences marked property lines as pride of ownership became the badge of courage. Words, like independence and private property were common table talk as the young were taught how to fight for survival.
 
But as time passed all that began to change. When photographers returned from those lonely houses, they showed pictures of wild-eyed women, stooped, gaunt, prematurely old men, and haunted-looking children. Life was hard making it on their own, especially through the bitter winters, fighting off disease and starvation
 
More and more settlers learned that they had a better chance of making it if they would build their houses near each other, in the corner of their property rather than in the center. Four families could survive much easier if they loosened their grip on independence, built a gate in their fence, and relinquished their overstated emphasis on privacy. Enduring winter’s blast or a lengthy illness wasn’t nearly so frightful if you had three other families within walking distance. It proved to be much more fun coming together instead of living lonely, separate, touch-me-not lives of isolation.
 
Those old settlers learned what we seem to have forgotten today: pulling closer together is better than existing so far apart. Sharing is still to be preferred to staying aloof. The risks and periodic hassles notwithstanding, four in the corner are better than one in the middle.[2]

Never before in the history of man do people have such ready access to others. We have e-mail, Text, Skype, Facebook, and Instagram—just ot name a few. And yet, women feel more isolated and alone than ever before. It seems we’ve forgotten to put the gates in the fences around our hearts and opted for independence over community. The result has been devastating.
 
Women today lead very different lives from the homemakers of the sixties. A vast majority of women work outside the home, either full-time or part-time. Today’s woman is being pulled in several directions at the same time and typically feels guilty that she is letting someone down – that someone or something is not getting the proper amount of her attention.
 
At the dawn of the Feminist Movement, Helen Reddin sang, “I am woman hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore.” However, today’s woman would be more likely to resonate with the bumper sticker that read “I am woman. I am invincible. I am tired.”
 
This cultural pull on women to do it all and have it all – all at the same time is causing insurmountable stress. We can all agree that stress haunts every woman to some degree. Yet how she deals with that stress varies. “It is estimated that seventy percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related illnesses.”[3] “It is not the stress in itself that damages us, but unrelenting stress…It is our failure to regularly retreat from the front lines that create trouble.”[4]

Throughout Scripture, we see how God placed women together in relationships to encouragement one another and find a place of retreat. Just as God sent Mary to Elizabeth and Ruth to Naomi, He continues to place women together for mutual support, accountability, and friendship. That’s why we need Women’s Ministry in our churches today. Women are the very heartbeat of the home, community, and church and many are in desperate need of resuscitation!

Sharon Jaynes is a popular speaker at women’s events and a best-selling author of 19 books, including Building an Effective Women’s Ministry and The Power of a Woman’s Words. To learn more about her Bible studies, blog, and other resources, or inquire about Sharon speaking at your next event, visit www.sharonjaynes.com.

[1] https://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p20-574.pdf

[2] Adapted from Come before Winter and Share My Hope by Charles R. Swindol (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985), pp224-226. This rendition appeared in Insights Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 11, November 1998

[3] Elizabeth Baker, How to Hang Loose in an Uptight World, (Gretna, La: Pelican, 2002), 17.

[4] Ibid., 101.

Article originally published on iBelieve.com, used with permission.

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