The lack of younger women in these groups is seen as a harbinger of doom for the organization, the main problem to resolve if the ministry is to continue.
It has long been my contention that this is not the real problem and my reasons are two-fold.
The first error I see is thinking that the only way for the ministry to survive is to attract young women. Granted, if your group is elderly and never attracts new members, you will eventually die out. However, if you focus all your efforts on changing the group in order to attract young women you are overlooking the demographic you are most likely to appeal to in your present state…those women just entering retirement age.
The second error inherent in the expressed problem is the self-serving motive of attracting new members in order to swell your ranks and keep the ministry alive.
A ministry exists to serve others, not the other way around. Rather than seeking to pull new members into the group with whatever enticements, the group should be evaluating itself to see exactly what it has to offer, both to the women already among its membership and those outside the group.
How many local church women’s groups enjoy the participation of 100% of the women in the church? How many have 100% participation of even the women in the same age bracket as their active members?
If yours is not one of the rare 100% groups, then become sensitive, individually and as a group, to the needs of the women in your church. What are the gifts, talents, skills, and experiences of the women in the group and how can they be matched with those needs?
These are the questions a ministry needs to ask: “Who needs us?” and “What do we have to offer to meet those needs?”
We need to stop focusing on recruiting the younger women. Most of them have precious little time to give to meetings and projects. But, be there for them, get to know them one-on-one. Be their spiritual mentors and baby sitters. Help them out in practical ways that can free them up to participate in a Bible Study or short-term mission project. Don’t look upon them as replacements for ministry members who are aging-out of service.
Take a fresh look at the women nearing or reaching retirement age, new widows, empty-nesters, women with time on their hands who are looking for new relationships and activities to make them feel needed and useful in times of transition. See what you have to offer to them, right now.
I’ve often said that old people are a renewable resource, with a new crop ripening every day. That usually gets a chuckle, but it’s not a joke. Don’t devalue women as they grow older. The mission field is not limited to those under sixty. There is as much rejoicing in Heaven for the lost ewe as for the lost lamb when she returns to the fold.
Honor your women of every age.
See the needs. Fill the needs. Build and nurture relationships.
The ministry will take care of itself.