Something in a recent comment prompted the thought that it might be helpful to some to write a post about church ladies’ groups. Recently a friend at church had a friend from her home town visiting who also happened to head up her ladies’ group, and it was fun to compare notes and get ideas. I’d love to do that here, too: I’d love to know what kinds of things your ladies group does, what has worked and hasn’t worked for you. And if you don’t have one, maybe this will give you some ideas for starting one.
I was in and out of church as a young person and my mom didn’t attend regularly, so I don’t know what the ladies in those churches did. The church we were in when we first married had a ladies group which was entirely focused on missions: they began with a project time making things for the missionaries, had a missionary speaker, passed out pre-addressed letters for people to write to missionaries, had folders with prayer cards and prayer letters that they passed out at the end for people to take a few minutes to pray for specific requests for those missionaries, and collected items the missionaries could not get in their countries. When we moved to another state, the ladies there pretty much just met together for fellowship times.
At the church we are in now, the ladies group restructured several years ago with three goals in mind:
1. to find ways to minister to, encourage, and pray for our missionaries
2. to try to keep our missionaries before our people and help them get to know them better
3. to foster fellowship among our own ladies.
Sometimes our meetings are more directly missionary oriented; sometimes they are more oriented toward fellowship. But we do fellowship at every meeting, and we try to incorporate a prayer time for specific missionaries at most meetings.
At our monthly meetings we often have a missionary speaker or a lady from our church giving her testimony. In the past we have also had craft demonstrations such as stamping or soap-making, worked on projects for our missionaries, heard talks on various topics such as time management or heart health, and had an open discussion of topics like having devotions, loving our husbands, or hospitality. Annual events include a ladies’ banquet, assembling care packages for our college students, and sponsoring a church-wide “Missionary Christmas.” Occasionally we’ve gone bowling or putt-putting. Throughout the year ladies may opt to participate in a Secret Sister program to pray for and send little notes and gifts to someone anonymously, and then we get to find out the identity of our secret sister for the year at our annual Christmas party.
Most of the monthly meetings are held in the fellowship hall at church, but some are held in homes. We do have a nursery available: it used to be staffed by teens, but as their involvement dropped off one of our ladies took that on. Different ladies host the fellowship time, bringing and serving refreshments.
Occasionally some of the women will get-together for a Bible study of several weeks duration, led by different individual ladies. Often we use a study book from Regular Baptist Press; a couple of times a video series has been used. In some churches, organizing meals for families with someone who is sick or recovering from a hospital stay or for funerals is handled by a committees of ladies: in our church that is organized by deacon groups (all the church families are divided up by deacons, with each deacon over a group, and he and his wife organize meals and fellowships and such).
Some groups might also have a committee that organizes bridal and baby showers for church members. Our pastor wants that handled on an individual basis, so different ladies who know the brides or moms-to-be organize showers. There are a few who particularly have a heart for that ministry and take care that no one is overlooked.
The friend’s friend that I mentioned said that her ladies’ group has a monthly meeting as well as a monthly outing. I don’t know if that would go over here — people are so busy it’s hard for some even to come to a monthly meeting. But it might be fin to explore that as an occasional thing.
Some years ago on a Christian internet forum, one lady mentioned that her church ladies’ group was developing a home economics course that included all the basics of sewing, cooking, menu planning, childcare (to include bathing, dressing, diaper rash and illness), time management, organized cleaning, home maintenance, finances, budgeting, etc. — as well as basic discipleship and doctrinal classes. You’d probably need a lot of manpower (or woman-power!) for that kind of thing!
Most church ladies’ groups are focused on ministering to missionaries and/or their own ladies, but some also incorporate reaching out to others with a ladies’ visitation program or having Bible studies or special programs or activities especially geared toward inviting the lost. Of course, lost friends and co-workers can be invited to the regular ladies’ meetings to hear the testimonies and be around ladies in a more informal setting.
A few helpful resources I’ve found are:
- A Women’s Ministry Handbook put out by Regular Baptist Press
- Women’s World: Ideas and Procedures for Missions Groups by Dorothy Vander Kaay (out of print now, I believe, but used copies can be found online): this book had some helpful ideas, but I found the sections on organization to be a little too rigid (what kind of officers are needed and what they should do, etc.) But you could adapt the idea for your group.
Speaking of organization and structure, that varies from church to church. At the first church I mentioned, they had several officers that were elected every year, and the group as a whole was somewhat guided and overseen by the pastors’ wives. The second group I mentioned really had no structure at all: the pastor’s wife basically suggested activities, but it was a small church and everyone pitched in for most activities. At our church now, one lady was asked to head it up when the group was restructured. I kind of unofficially assisted her because that seemed to be the area of ministry where my heart was, and when this lady moved, I inherited the group. I would like at some point to have more people involved and perhaps go to electing officers: I think getting new folks involved keeps things fresh. Probably how things are structured depends a lot on how big the group is and what its goals are.
If your church does not have a ladies’ group, and you’re interested in one, you might start, first of all, with prayer for the Lord’s guidance. Then you might jot down some ideas of what kinds of groups or activities you’d be interested in, then ask for a session with your pastor to discuss them with him. Some pastors will have specific ideas for the ladies’ group; others will basically leave it up to the ladies’ involved and will only want to be kept informed. Then you might gather a few other interested ladies to brainstorm, or you might make up a questionnaire to get several ladies’ ideas and also ascertain what skills and talents the different ladies of your church have that they’d be willing to use for the group. Even if you can’t do everything you’d like to at first, once you get started, you can grow in different directions as the Lord leads and as needs and interests dictate.
In the next day or two I want to post a related piece on mentoring women in general: I wrote something on it for our ladies’ group newsletter, but I need to rework it a bit. To me a good ladies’ group within a church is an excellent means of mentoring and edifying each other. (Update: The post about mentoring women is here.)