Meet Ashley, my best friend since 8th grade. She and I were both cheerleaders most of our childhood and we assumed we would carry on our sport into high school. We both made the junior varsity team freshman year and were there to have fun.
It did not take long before Ash and I stopped having fun. Things became catty. Since we did not make the varsity team right away, some of the girls looked down on us and treated us like second-class citizens.
We were not there to play silly games. We were there because this was our sport, what we enjoyed – and to get the attention of boys, of course. Dah.
When cheerleading practice became more about gossip and hierarchies of “coolness” than about cheerleading, Ashley and I decided to drop out. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
We decided we would rather hang out with girls who respected and loved us, rather than a bunch of girls who thought they were too good for us.
We started our own club, called “the fat club.” We were not fat; not a bit, but we loved to eat and we thought this was a hilarious way to rebel against what we were supposed to be – skinny, popular, and cool cheerleaders. We actually made “the fat club” really cool and soon lots of girls wanted to join our “cause.”
Our clear mission statement was that you did not actually have to be fat to be in our club, but you did have to love food more than life itself. It did not matter what you looked like or how popular you were. Anyone could be part, but you did have to endure a hazing process. We called this “eating competitions.”
As president and vice president of “the fat club,” Ashley and I would oversee these competitions. We would go to a buffet, hibachi grill, or even stay home and see which girl “trying out” for our group could eat the most. Listen, friends, do not underestimate the skinny ones; they can put some food away. At the end of the competitions, anyone who was still alive was in our group.
Ashley and I carried on the tradition of the “the fat club” all through high school and even in our senior yearbook, we wrote “president and vice president of the fat club.” No, I am not joking. I know that none of this is politically correct and I hope that you keep in mind that WE WERE KIDS, but thinking back I can’t help but think of “women’s ministry” when I think of this story.
I have never been actively involved with a women’s ministry for more than a few months in the past ten years.
In my experience, women’s ministry is a lot like my 9th grade year of cheerleading. I normally walk in wide-eyed and ready to get involved, only to walk out feeling demoted to the junior varsity squad. It doesn’t seem to matter if I can do the best flips or jumps; my gifts often go unnoticed or unwanted.
I talk to so many women on a daily basis who feel the same way as I do. Some of these women would even say, “Wow, you made the JV Squad; I didn’t make the team at all.” I feel ya sisters. I am one who is not afraid to put myself out there, often straight-up asking, “How can I get involved?” Yet, I am often ignored or met with rejection. I am not sure if it is intentional, but there seems to be a “we got this and we don’t need you” sort of attitude.
At that point, I lose interest.
Why? Because I want to be part of the ministry. I want to use my gifts. I want to share my story. I want to hear your story. I want us to pray together. I want us to feed each other spiritually. I want to build relationships that are authentic. I want to serve and lead together.
If I wanted to hear another sermon, I would stay home in my pj’s, with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and watch my favorite preachers on Youtube. Now, don’t get me wrong, if a woman is going to get up there and tell me something real going on in her life and how God is meeting her in the chaos, I am all about that. But I don’t need another teaching on the Proverbs 31 Woman or the faithfulness of one of the 18,000 Mary’s in the Bible.
I want to worship with my girlfriends, but I want to see all the musicians and vocalists in the group have a chance to lead and develop their talents. I want the ladies to preach it, but I want to see all the ladies who are called to preach, up there, sharing their raw stories and developing their communication skills.
I don’t want to talk about recipes or hiking or vaccinations or homeschool vs public school or home birth vs hospital birth or organic vs non-organic or even marriage, because these topics do not apply to every woman in the room.
As women connect, these conversations will naturally happen and we will be drawn to befriend those with similar interests, but I want the “service” or “big get together” to focus on women who love Jesus, empowering and encouraging each other to do what God has called them to do.
The atmosphere should be one of inclusiveness; not one of exclusiveness. I think there should be young women and old women. We need mothers and daughters in the faith. Leaders should be more like facilitators and less like dictators or “purpose-hoggers.”
True and great leaders empower all the women involved to discover and use their gifts to encourage the Body of Christ and further the Kingdom of God.
They are not threatened by those who may lead, preach, sing, host or serve better than they do. We must let go of competition, micro-management, and the desire for self-glory (aka: always having the mic) if we want to see a thriving women’s ministry.
The greatest leaders are those who let others shine.
I will never understand women who do not want great women around them, doing their thing, and operating in their gifts. On my blog, I want the best of the best writers and if they outshine me, it will only help my blog succeed. I also want the raw writers who are “learning their trade” and are not so good yet but will be someday be great because someone gave them a chance to practice their gift.
I dream of a women’s ministry in which we cheer each other on and take the time to notice what women are good at or what they could be good at. When one woman succeeds, we all succeed! To me, this is what it means to be sisters in Christ.
So tell me ladies, what are your frustrations with the way things are and what would your ideal ‘women’s ministry’ look like? I am all ears!
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