The Women’s March and What Pastors Need to Know

ABC News recently reported that, “More than 1 million people rallied at women’s marches in the nation’s capital and other cities around the world Saturday…” shutterstock_561776317

As the women’s ministries director for the Peninsular Florida District of the Assemblies of God, I am hoping this was a wake up call for the church and it’s leaders.

As percentages go, there is a phenomenal amount of support for women’s ministries in our district. Particularly in the last three years – we have seen a record number of churches come on board to establish women’s ministries in the local church as well as participate in what our district has to offer. We are so thankful for all the Lord is doing. Yet, there are some pastors/leaders who are resistant to the idea of having an established women’s ministries in their church or connecting beyond the local church. Here are a few things I’ve heard…

“Our ladies get all that they need through our main services at the church. As far as anything additional, we plan events like shopping trips to the outlets a few times a year. Let’s be honest, that’s what women really want…to go shopping.”

“The discipleship needs of our women are met through the membership track we have at the church, for all adults. There is no need for specialized ministry to women. We’re doing just fine as we are.”

“Frankly, I’m afraid to establish a women’s ministry. That would give the women a place to gather and talk and possibly become negative and gossip and before you know it, I would have conflict in the church.  I just don’t need that. I’d rather not give them a platform to meet.”

“Women’s Ministries is an outdated concept and structured like something from the 1950’s. That’s just not where our church is at.”

Well, not surprisingly I have some insights on all this…

First of all women will gather and talk whether a pastor gives them a place to do so or not.

Second, women are longing for more than to spend a few hours at the outlets with their friends. What we experienced Saturday in our nation was a cry in the streets. Are we listening? Without a doubt a lot of women don’t even realize what their heart is truly crying out for. But the church has the answer! What do we do with that opportunity?

Third, I am wondering how many church membership and discipleship tracks are addressing subjects such as abortion, rape, harassment, gender identity, etc. There are issues today’s women are facing that are not addressed from a biblical standpoint in a shopping trip or a membership class.

Fourth, regarding women’s ministries as an outdated concept – when is the last time you checked out what is happening in women’s ministries? I think you will be surprised at what you find. Lives are being transformed from the inside out. I would love to take you on a virtual tour of what is happening in Pen Florida, alone. What God is doing in and through women is nothing short of amazing.

Pastor, women will gather. They will mobilize. Will it be at your church?   As spiritual leaders, we must be proactive and approach people even before they reach out to us. On Saturday as they watched the march on television, many spiritual leaders shook their heads in amazement and responded with “What is wrong with these women? They’re crazy!”  Some retaliated with rebuttals on Facebook. A better response would be for each of us to ask ourselves, “How can I lead the way in meeting the spiritual needs of women who are crying out for help?” Even better still, how can we meet those needs BEFORE they are crying out for help?

I am not judging pastors. I’ve been one myself for almost 30 years.  Now serving in the district office, I spend my life primarily encouraging pastoral leaders and their spouses and women’s ministries leaders. It is with a heart for every one of those leaders and their churches that I share this.  I am hoping that every pastor will prayerfully consider what they are prayerfully and strategically doing to help the women of their church and community walk in their God given purpose and destiny.

1021162109dI spoke with one pastor who said, “Deanna, we might not have a formalized women’s ministries, but there is ‘women’s ministries’ all over our church! Women are serving. They are greeters, they teach classes, they work in the nursery. They serve. THAT’S real women’s ministry.” Respectfully…no it’s not. That is women IN ministry, not ministry TO women.  For decades, women were little more in the church than the predominant work force, lacking replenishment for their own soul or recognition for their efforts.  In recent years there has been an exodus of women from the church nationwide. Scores of them have taken their gifts and passion and invested it in the business world where they find themselves respected as equals and their work genuinely valued.

The last U.S. Census shows that women are the majority population in the United States by a slight margin and in the church they have historically been the greater margin as well. Not only are they typically the largest population of any pastor’s congregation, but they have greater pressure, needs and influence in the world than ever before.

Author Bev White Hislop says, “The physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of women may be greater than at any previous time in the history of the United States. There may have been more traumatic circumstances in the lives of American women, but there probably has not been a time when women have had fewer helpful connections and less effective shepherding.”

I plead with you to not simply write off the women who marched as ungodly or crazy. May we look deeper and ask ourselves what we can do to reach out in love and provide a place where women will discover the hope and freedom that only Jesus can provide.

Would you like to have more resources in ministering to the women in your congregation?  I am here to help. dshrodes@penflorida.org

 

Deanna-ShrodesDeanna Doss Shrodes is the Women’s Ministries Director for the Pen-Florida District of the Assemblies of God. Deanna is most passionate about investing in leaders and leadership health. Deanna is an Assemblies of God ordained minister and has served as co-pastor alongside her husband Larry, for 29 years. Currently they are lead pastors of Celebration Church Tampa (AG). Deanna is a speaker in demand in the United States and abroad, and is an accomplished musician, worship leader and recording artist. She is an award winning writer and contributing author of five highly acclaimed anthologies and sole author of the books, JUGGLE: Manage Your Time, Change Your Life, Worthy to Be Found, RESTORED: Pursuing Wholeness When a Relationship is Broken, and STRONGER: 30 Powerful Principles for Leaders, all published by Entourage Publishing. Deanna has been featured in many publications worldwide, including The Huffington Post.