By Cyndee Ownbey
Have you ever gotten the sense that your women’s ministry program is a little too self-serving? Maybe you’ve noticed an increase in cliques. Or maybe there are few, if any, women outside of your church attending your women’s ministry events.
In the 20+ years I’ve been serving and leading in women’s ministry, I’ve noticed the positive impact outreach can make in the hearts of the women in our church and our attendance.
Churches often define outreach in two ways:
- Reaching out to unchurched people to invite them to church
- Stepping out to meet the needs of people in our local community
I’ve got some great ideas for how to add opportunities for “reaching out” and “stepping out” to your women’s ministry calendar. No matter your starting point, I’ve got loads of women’s ministry ideas for community outreach.
While we want guests to attend any event or activity we offer, there are some events that guests may find more welcoming. Inviting women to join you for a holiday they are already celebrating—such as Mother’s Day, Easter, or Christmas—is generally an easy ask for the women in your church and an easy “yes” for those they are asking. Who doesn’t want their friends to join them for a celebration? Event favors, such as those from Christ to All, provide a tangible reminder of God’s love for them.
Workshop-style meetings will often attract those who are not attending a church because they want to learn something new. Skill-based workshops can teach women how to can vegetables, knit, meal plan, organize their closets, or make sourdough bread. Workshops can also provide women the opportunity to complete a craft. Popular craft workshop ideas include painting classes, assembling wreaths, making a door sign, or creating no-sew fleece blankets. We’ve found offering two different options on the same night reaches a wider range of women. Just be sure to weave in a short testimony or short devotional so women don’t leave your workshops without hearing about Jesus.
Communication is a key component of “reaching out” events and activities. Your women need to know that you want and expect them to invite guests. You may want to consider offering a small discount for additional ticket purchases while being careful not to slight those who may not have a friend to invite to attend. Then at the event, you’ll want to clearly communicate an invitation to your next women’s ministry event. You want every single guest to know she is invited to come back.
Many churches do a great job of offering opportunities for church members to serve in their local community, but I’ve found not many women’s ministries think to offer a women-only service activity. Some of my favorite ministry moments have occurred as I’ve served side-by-side with other women. The conversation just seems to flow more easily when our hands are busy.
Here are a few ideas to get your team’s wheels turning:
- Collect diapers for your local pregnancy center
- Put together snack baskets for the teacher’s lounge at local schools
- Assemble blessing bags with necessities for the homeless in your community
- Send care packages and handwritten notes to missionaries, servicewomen and servicemen, or the homebound
- Sort clothes at a local ministry-run thrift store
Service projects don’t have to be a one-and-done activity either; you can prayerfully partner with a parachurch ministry to serve them long-term. Many years ago the women’s ministry team I was on partnered with a local women’s shelter. Our women had donated cleaning supplies at a women’s event, and when we dropped them off, we happened to ask what other needs they had. God opened the doors for us to begin serving at the shelter once a month. We provided lunch, hosted a spa day, completed crafts together, and more. Not only were we a blessing to the women and children at the shelter but we experienced the blessings of serving!
Whether you’re “reaching out” or “stepping in,” outreach events and activities are a great way to turn the hearts of your women from being self-focused to focusing on others. Both types of outreach events provide an opportunity for us to share God’s love with those outside of our church.
If you’re not already offering outreach events and activities on your women’s ministry calendar, I pray you’ll consider doing so.