We all hear about it. Maybe we have even let it happen in our own lives—godly women walk away from the church. Sometimes it’s because needs are not being met. Other times it is due to a lack of serious discipleship—women don’t understand the importance of attending church regularly. I’m sure we’ve all seen women who struggle with overcommitment in various areas of life. But sadly, I’ve also heard of women who felt an inability to use their spiritual gifts, or those who’ve just faced feelings of being disconnected and generally overwhelmed. And worst of all, there are women who have been hurt and simply feel like calling it quits on the church.
So, what can we do to help a woman who is tempted to walk away? How can we encourage her to stay?
We must understand our women. Understanding is important for any woman in the church, but especially when there is a generation gap. We must make an effort. How can we bring women back and encourage them to stay if we don’t understand their lives, their struggles, and their needs? Intergenerational friendships are important. Ideas for bridging the generational gap go beyond the scope of this article, but we need to be creative. Many younger women have expressed the desire to get to know the older ladies of the church and vice versa. (If your church succeeds here, kudos.) When we understand the women in our church, no matter their ages, needs can be met, serious discipleship developed, and both pain and overcommitment in life can be addressed. Understanding breeds compassion.
Allow women to serve. It feels so good to use the gifts God has given. If you are a leader, consider offering spiritual gifts assessments and catalog the results. Then invite each woman to serve in roles where she can use her gifts—either regularly or periodically, depending on the need and on the woman. As women serve, they will feel more connected. If you are not a leader, discover your gifts and then seek opportunities to serve in your church. Talk to your women’s ministry leader or your pastor. Remember, feelings of being overwhelmed are often alleviated when women develop friendships and find a supportive, helpful group in which to serve.
As you have noticed, this year the SBTC Women’s Ministry is focusing on returning “Back to the Basics.” One of our basics is to glorify God. We can do this through personal and corporate worship, prayer, and living in obedience and submission to God. We follow the wisdom and instruction of the Bible, God’s holy Word to us. And we encourage other women to do the same. When women feel like walking away, we glorify God by encouraging them stay.
Not every woman who walks away (or feels like walking away) from church attendance is walking away from God. However, those who do leave are not obeying His command to continue meeting with other believers, to continue in worshipful Christian community (Acts 2:42, 46-47; Hebrews 10:25). The goal is to encourage women to stay before they throw in the towel. And when possible, we must warmly reach out to those who have left, inviting them back. While we wait and pray, we must focus on understanding and meeting the needs of women in our church. When we do this successfully, they will invite others to join in. Where women are being fed, others will gather. Focus on the women beside you and glorify God together.