This week, I received a third announcement about your ministry. Well, maybe not specifically your ministry, but from three different women from three different churches in three different denominations who run the women’s ministry exactly like you. The first was a notification that you designed a ministry especially for me, well, only if I happen to be a “young wife” or a “mom with younger kids”. You assured me it would all be about “fun” and “connecting” and promised “superb soups”, “bodacious bread”, and a “sweet craft project”. I received a second invite when I picked my child up from Sunday School. You let me know this ministry is specifically crafted for “MOMS”. You included the schedule to hook me in: for six weeks out of 13, we’d be doing crafts. Then, on September 16, as former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis opened fire on civilians working at Washington Navy Yard, I got an e-mail about your upcoming women’s conference. You promised it would be a time to “Relax! Refresh! Recharge!”
I’m concerned because you seem to think you’re running a spa, a delicatessen, and a Hobby Lobby rather than a church. I’m not the only one. I used to think I was. But then, a few years ago Christianity Today writer Amy Simpson confessed why she didn’t “do women’s ministry“. Since then, a steady stream of other women have followed suit, voicing their discontent with the current women’s ministry paradigm. For the most part, the critics have been gentle and gracious with their critiques. As for me, I’m tired of being nice about it. I’m tired of beating around the bush, saying it’s just a matter of “preference”. So let me say it this way: If this is the way you run the women’s ministry, it’s not just ineffective and irrelevant–it’s sinful.
It’s sinful because you’re not equipping women to be who they are called to be. You offer flowers and fairy dust when what we need is meat and medicine. There are women out there walking around crippled with anxiety, depression, a sense of aimlessness and uselessness because they are not connected to God or their giftedness. They do not know their rightful place in the world. You say the flowers and fairy dust are just to woo, that once they come they’ll crave the Word and crave God. But we don’t, because women who need meat and medicine, who are looking for a way to be a balm in a hurting world, will not be wooed by flowers and fairy dust.
It’s sinful because you’re turning a blind eye to the world and to our responsibility in that world. You sent that e-mail about the “relaxing and refreshing” women’s conference as if there were no Aaron Alexis’ in the world. As if there were no chaos in Cairo, as if there were no chemical weapons in Syria taking the lives of women and children who had never asked for war, as if there were no starving children, as if there were no such thing as human trafficking, as if I myself were not a cripple out there, wandering and wondering how to get whole and well.
What sane person would go to an automotive store to pick up dinner? To a bar to find a faithful husband? I don’t go to a salon to hear the Word, why would I go to a church to be pampered when a salon is far better suited for that purpose? Women, we can do better than this. It’s time for church to be the church and not be ashamed. It’s time to stop trying to be something other than what we are. Today. Now. The world can’t wait. Every second that slips by is one more second emptied out in your brief life, one more second that you’re not affecting the world for good.