I was puzzling over the problem our women’s ministry has here in the West with overcoming preconceptions and prejudices in many of our pastors, both in the local churches and at the Region/State level.
Whether due to influences in seminary, with the jokes about, “Never mess with the women!” or comments about the ABW as all being “well-intentioned dragons” or from past experiences many of our pastors have opinions of ABW that range from “necessary evil” all the way to “impediment to church growth”.
There are far fewer ministers in this section who consider the ABW to be a rich resource and strong support to their ministry.
Since that last description is exactly how we want to be and to be perceived, we have a problem. Somewhere along the way we have gotten a bad rep.
As our mothers warned us, it is much easier to lose a good reputation than to overcome a bad one.
During the twenty-five years that I was a pastor’s wife I was in a position to observe the women’s groups in a variety of small churches…and to be privy to the pastor’s perspective, as well.
While the majority of these women’s groups (and the majority of the women in all of the groups) was sincerely trying to serve as Christ’s hands and feet by meeting the needs of the church family and the missionaries in the field, there were those few memorable individuals who had lost sight of their original motives and come to think of the ABW (if not the entire church) as their own personal property.
The traditions and practices had begun to be the goal. Any suggestions for change were perceived as personal criticism by these women. Relations with and within the women’s ministry were tense. These were the sorts of experiences the young seminarians had been warned about.
AB Women’s Ministries as we know it today is a far cry from that stereotypical band of controlling “dragons”. ABW Min. is all about supporting the women in the local congregations as they grow into leadership and service in their church, community and beyond.
We know that God has a purpose for each one of us and to fulfill that purpose we must be sensitive to the people around us and responsive to their needs.
We are working hard to reach every woman with a heart for God and we are willing to use all the new technology available to us. We are tweaking our meeting formats, our resources and structure to become flexible enough for every women’s group.
We are attempting to partner with our pastors and denominational leaders, stepping in where invited to lighten their load.
However, there are many people who have yet to get the message of the ABW Ministries movement.
Every time we act in the name of AB Women we must be aware that we are either overcoming or reinforcing possible preconceptions.
It’s hard to live down a bad reputation, even one that isn’t deserved…but it is possible. With patience, persistence and God’s power it can be, and will be done.