A good friend, who for years had been active in her church’s women’s ministry, relocated after retirement. Although she quickly became active in her new church she was not drawn into the local women’s group.
A few months ago she began attending the local group gatherings. After a recent meeting she emailed me the following comments about her experience, “I had noticed the meeting was being held at (the president)’s house so that’s where I went. Unfortunately the meeting had been changed to the church so I was about 15-20 minutes late. (Us Type A’s don’t like to be late or in a rush.) And to think I went to all that trouble to go to the most boring meeting of my life. (The president) is a lovely lady. I like her dearly but she does not know how to go from Point A to Point B without traveling all through the other routes. It was a two-hour meeting of pure torture as she attempted to lead. Nothing really was accomplished…Totally unreal!”
Women’s ministry groups and small community groups of all kinds are suffering from a drop in membership and difficulty recruiting new members. My friend’s experience is, unfortunately, all too common in these groups. And yet, many of the groups’ leaders and core membership scratch their heads with wonder that they can’t attract more women. They know that the mission or cause of their group is worthy of all the time they devote and don’t see why others don’t want to join the cause.
I think these women have failed to ask themselves the right question. It isn’t a matter of “Why don’t others see this important need?” but rather, “What has our group got to offer other women who want to serve this cause?”
There are many women in any church or community who feel a desire to serve. What stands in their way is a fear of wasting precious time with boring business meetings, or of trying to break into a closed clique where they will be kept on the periphery of the program and unable to make a real difference in their cause.
My friend’s experience of going to the advertized meeting location, only to find that the meeting had moved, would have discouraged many newcomers from going to the new location or ever attending again. If you want new people at your meetings, you need to communicate beyond your core group. “Secret” meetings give the impression that you do not want outsiders to find you.
The business meeting my friend described as “the most boring meeting of my life” would never encourage a newcomer. A woman who has sacrificed two-hours of her precious free time, hoping to serve a cause she cares about, wants to leave that meeting knowing that she has done something to make a difference. If she can have a little fun and make some new friends while doing it, all the better.
If you are in a church or community group that is struggling to reach new women, please consider what your meetings and programs have to offer these women that will make them feel that they are receiving value for the time spent.
Time is a most valuable commodity for working women, especially those raising a family. If your group recognizes and respects that, you will have much more to offer those who come.