Thursday, June 20, 2013

Women's ministry and the single girl

Women's ministry is a strange thing to me. 

I have to say, the church I attend has come a long way since my first encounter with the ridiculous tactics that women will go to, but it often seems like we are still so far away from the mark. As of late, they have given up the soap making retreats into the woods. They rarely use flowered table cloths to differentiate the women's ministry table in the lobby. And large, elaborate floral centerpieces are rarely used.

I'll start with a little background about myself. I am 25, single, no children, working, and living in my sister's basement. To many, that can lead to a belief that my life experiences are very minimal. For example, it can lead people to believe: 

• I have no experience taking care of a home. 
• I have little experience working with children (except when I'm called on to help in the nursery so actual mothers don't have to step foot in that war zone!) 
• I don't have experience in ministry. 
• I have all the time in the world, so naturally I should be more involved in ministries with all that free time.
• Or that there must be something wrong with me because no man has snatched me up yet.

(Believe it or not, I have heard some version of all of these examples from the lips of women around me.)

I want you to know, and maybe you already do know, that I am none of these things, and neither are my fellow single ladies out there.

I have never felt a sense of belonging in women's ministry. I have always felt like it tells me that I am not enough. Maybe they don't mean to, but I get the clear message that I have very little to offer because of a perceived lack of experiences and therefore a lack of knowledge. 

I can't tell you how many times I have gone to women's events and sat through talks about loving my (non-existent) husband, the trials of raising my (yet unborn) children, the importance of intimacy, house-cleaning, canning, baking, decorating, etc... But I don't think I have ever heard a single woman asked to speak on the trials of being single in today's sex-crazed, messed up world where people are trying to marry you off to the next single guy they see and ignoring your standards (or even your taste/age/goals/dreams/etc) because of some belief that you'll be better off that way. I have never been challenged to live a pure life that points back to Jesus, even when He seems silent. And forget the message encouraging me to wait on the Lord, in whatever situation I am in. 

I don't want to hear a cookie-cutter message about salvation or the grace of God. Those are good things, but, I want to hear practical words about the struggles that we all go through, single, married, divorced, or widowed. I want someone to look me in the eye and tell me the importance of prayer in my life. I need to learn how to guard my heart from the attacks of the enemy and the deceitful lips of others. I want you to invest in my life in a real way. Not by sending me a card once a month with a verse and signed "The ladies of _____ church". I want someone to send me a card telling me that they are praying for me in real ways and sign their name. I want a person. A real live person who takes the time to know my story. I don't want you to try to sympathize with me, especially if your singleness ended before the ripe "old" age of 23. I want someone to verbally smack that person who believes that there is something wrong with me for not being married already! 

I know that you are busy with your husbands and children. I know that our schedules don't always make meetings easy to arrange. I know that we both have a lot going on. But if you don't take the time to invest in my life and be honest with me, who will? Am I just supposed to float out here on my own until I'm finally caught by a man and have a couple babies? Then will I be welcomed into your ranks?

I'm not asking for someone to be assigned to meet with me every week. I don't want my name to appear on a list that you have been told to send text messages to once a week. I'm just asking that we get real. Can we do that?


  1. Word. I am not single or childless, and I just want people to be real with me. Life is hard, no matter where you are. I don't want to paint pretty pictures about our lives and pretend like it's all perfect and stuff and that something is wrong with me if I feel differently.

    I can't quite wrap my mind around married ladies sending cards to single ladies, either... like an outreach?

  2. The cards are meant to be a way of connecting to women who haven't been around in a while. I got a few a long time ago, but haven't gotten any lately. Maybe they don't do it anymore.

  3. Very well said!!! True to the core from your church and I have attended your church for years. We left and I have found other churches ladies ministries so different. They don't include you because you know someone. They include you no matter what. They help you grow your God given gift. They walk with you. Good Luck!!!

  4. Ashley,

    I love you very much and I know how involved you have been in ministry. But I think that this post is overly harsh. I was very involved with the Women's Ministry for several years and I experienced so much realness and support from so many women there who just want to see lives changed. I know that there haven't been very many things that have been catered towards single young women, but when there aren't many single young women who want to stay involved in the ministry, how can they cater things to such a small population of their ministry? I know that the ministry is not perfect, but there are so many women who have tried and are still trying to bridge this gap. I am excited that you and Michelle are getting involved so that you can show them what amazing things single women have to offer the church and ministry. But this blog seriously hurt my heart because I know how much many of these ladies have tried. I am also a single woman with no kids and I have been involved in and blessed by the women's ministry at our church-- but the key for me was being involved on a regular weekly basis and getting to know the actual women. Just going to the events doesn't give a true sense of just how dedicated and caring these women are. I really hate that this is the experience that you've had, because it is so different from my own.
    I am so excited for you guys to get in there and get involved with WOMEN- not wives, not mothers, not grandmothers, but WOMEN-- we all have that bond together and there is so much we could accomplish in our church and community TOGETHER if we focus on our connections rather than our differences. Stick in there with them and create relationships! Help them know how they can minster to and support single women. How will they know if we don't connect with them?

    Love you, praying for you and 'Chelle on this adventure! Can't wait to see what God does! :)