I am a women’s ministry leader and I have a confession to make: I love cupcakes. And ice breaker games. And door prizes.
Does that make me shallow?
I also crave transformational Bible study and deep spiritual conversations about the things of God. I love to discuss theology. I long to pray in intimate circles of Christian sisters about things of eternal value. I want to impact the world for Christ.
In recent years, there has been a movement in the Christian community to cut the “fluff” from women’s ministry. For instance, this open letter to Women’s Ministry by Sarah Bessey has been shared thousands of times and republished on other websites such as ChurchLeader.com. (See “Why We Don’t Need Women’s Ministry.“)
Even though the article was originally posted several years ago, every once in a while it still pops up on my newsfeed. And a friend from church emailed me the link, wondering what I thought about it. So I decided to think about it. Really think about it. Here’s my response in a nutshell:
Cupcakes and theology are NOT mutually exclusive. There is room – and need – for both in women’s ministry.
Serious Discipleship is Top Priority
Basically, I agree with the heart of Bessey’s article. Women always need deep, spiritual connection to other believers. We need encouragement to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives and to grow into Christlikeness. We need accountability and equipping. Solid biblical teaching and sound, godly leadership.
Yes, all women need these things. This should be the heart and soul of our women’s ministry. It is in fact, the church’s calling.
We Must Engage the Felt Need
But if we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that not all women recognize this need in their lives. If we want to reach all the women in the church – and the community – we must also minister to the felt need of cooking, friendship, and yes, maybe even crafting! We must connect with the women who aren’t ready to jump into the deep end of the spiritual pool. We must provide a way for them to get their feet wet.
A church’s women’s ministry can be both deep and wide. Let’s provide in-depth Bible study. Let’s train teachers and mentor moms. Let’s help mission efforts in our community and around the world.
We Need Connection Points
But let’s also reach new women in the community and women in the church who don’t yet recognize their need for a deeper faith. For instance, my church has a yearly “Table Top.” You know, that dinner where women show off their table decorating skills and act as hostess to a table full of women. It’s fun, it’s festive, and yes, some think it’s frivolous.
But the guests hear a strong Gospel message and are given the opportunity to get involved in specific mission efforts. Women who won’t come to Bible study or a spiritual retreat accept their neighbor’s invitation to Table Top. And the women in our church who hang out on the fringe of things come. They meet and mingle, and move a little deeper into the spiritual water.
Jesus often paved the way to deeper things over a dinner party. And He bonded with the guys in a fishing boat. He fed the crowds and the twelve with both physical and spiritual food.
Food and fun can foster relationships. Few of us will pour our hearts out to strangers or ask some woman we don’t know to be an accountability partner. But give them an opportunity to bond over a cupcake and then they’ll reach out when a crisis hits.
There’s room for cupcakes and spiritual depth.
We can have the cupcake and eat it too.