Three years ago I attended a writer’s conference of a well-known women’s ministry leader. To say I was excited was an understatement. To be completely transparent, I wasn’t fond of women’s ministries. I just resigned from my youth ministry position of seven years and I had no desire or plan of going into women’s ministry.
So why was I there? Good question.
I had plans to speak to three publishers about a book deal that weekend. I look back and laugh now because I never finished writing the book and I don’t think I would if I had the chance. That’s another story for another time.
As the weekend progressed, my attitude began to change.
I went from excited to shocked. The women I spoke to almost seemed to be competing with the other women about book deals, devotional ideas and how to get bookings to speak at conferences.
I started to get the vibe that these women were chasing fame and notoriety. We were taught to draw women in by discussing their “felt needs.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “felt need” I could have made a one month mortgage payment on my home and taken my husband on a date night.
By the last day and the last interview with a publishing company, I vomited my frustration (in words of course) all over the table. I said, “This conference isn’t biblical. They’re teaching these women to lead shallow women’s ministries that don’t dive deep into God’s word. These women talk about their emotions and end their studies singing ‘kumbaya’ while they hold hands and hug each other.”
The woman from Moody Publishing looked down, lowered her voice and said, “I agree. We need to talk before this weekend is over.”
It was there and then I realized WHY I don’t like women’s ministries.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I don’t like women. I am one. All of my students are women. My friends are women. I just don’t like women’s ministries … or at least most of them.
I don’t like women’s conferences or retreats or Wednesday night bible studies. To be fair, not all of them are like this. So please don’t think I’m lumping ALL women’s ministries and their leaders into the same mold.
But we have a problem here, ladies. Feminism has ushered in the idea that we can do anything men can do. We’re smart, we’re strong, we teach our kids, run the house and take care of business.
I’m not a feminist but I don’t disagree with all of that message. But why do women think they can do anything men can do except when it comes to THEOLOGY?
I’m not saying every women’s ministry should crack open Dr. Howe’s philosophy text books and push seminary. Do you know why I’m not saying that? Because I didn’t go to seminary and I don’t read Dr. Howe’s philosophy books because I only understand his jokes.
The purpose in writing this article today is because I believe women are hungry for the meat of God’s word. The problem is their women’s ministry is not providing that. I get messages from women all the time who are starving for depth and the rich knowledge Scripture has to offer.
Why is the church failing them? I believe there are 3 main reasons.
When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”
Jesus was quoting the Old Testament, specifically Deut 6:5. You can take this verse and apply it to the lack in women’s ministry today because I think it brings a lot of insight into where we’re going wrong and why.
No depth of knowledge
One of my favorite realizations about being a Christian is that our faith is intellectual. That doesn’t mean we have to be geniuses and it doesn’t mean we have to be college grads or hold doctorates.
It means our faith is built on knowledge: logic, reason, evidence. Proverbs speaks to this all throughout the entire book. In fact, Proverbs drops a knowledge bomb in chapter 1, verse 7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge ..”
What we know is built on the fear of the Lord. That means all knowledge stems from God if we want it to turn into wisdom as we walk in it. But many women’s ministries do not focus on knowledge gained.
In fact, the reason I gravitated toward apologetics is because it helps fulfill the command to “Love god with all of your mind.” Women’s ministries tend to skip over this part and focus on the heart (I’ll get to that in a minute) while completely ignoring the head.
More women teach Sunday school and take on the brunt of instructing and correcting their children. How then can we skip over the intellectual part of our faith when we are the ones instructing and transferring knowledge to the next generation?
It doesn’t make sense.
You cannot teach what you don’t know. Women are capable of diving into the word of God and learning how to exegetically interpret scripture through cross referencing, commentaries, researching original languages, etc. But are they being taught? And does the women’s ministry leader do this herself?
We cannot forget to love God with all of our minds. How can we be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us if we do not have the answer? We can’t. How will we contend for the faith if we do not know the faith we are contending for? We won’t.
Women’s ministries would do well to implement theology into their studies. I’m also going to make a radical suggestion and say step away from the Bible studies written by well known women in ministry. Get into the word as a group and learn how to interpret scripture.
The felt need supersedes the need for Jesus
I’m going to use a word my teenage boys use. When I hear the phrase “felt needs” I feel cringy. It takes everything in my power not to roll my eyes. But here’s where I go wrong … felt needs are real. We all have experiences, hurts, struggles, conflict, and the list goes on that causes us to FEEL.
And God cares about those things.
However, the problem is when our need for the healing supersedes our need for Jesus.
I believe the greatest felt need of humanity is sin. And that’s not something women’s ministries and churches talk about much anymore.
This takes us back to the other part of Deut 6:5, “To love God with all of our hearts.” What does it mean to love God with all of our hearts? It’s the intimacy we share with Him.
One of the greatest illustrations in the New Testament for intimacy with God is Mary and Martha. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to learn from Him. We’ve heard this story a thousand times but it’s worth mentioning again. I believe many women sit and learn from someone.
We sit at the feet of Priscilla Shirer, Lysa Terkeurst, Beth Moore. But are we sitting at the feet of Jesus?
When we focus on felt needs, we run the risk of turning our women’s bible studies into therapy sessions. We want Jesus to make us feel good and when this happens, we often sit in our problems instead of sit at His feet.
Again, notice how Luke 10:39 says what Mary did as she sat at Jesus’ feet. She “listened to what He said.” You can see the correlation between the mind and the heart here. And ofttimes they are synonymous in the Word of God. When Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts, it can also be translated mind.
Intimacy with God and loving Him with all of our hearts causes us to listen to what He has to say. When that happens, we gain knowledge and understanding … which is loving Him with all our minds. See the connection?
When women’s ministries focus on felt needs instead of the need for Jesus, we are failing our women.
Focus on Me instead of The
Marcie Morris of Provoked to Proclaim mentioned the difference between “meology” and theology on my podcast episode “Be careful of snowflake women’s ministries”.
Meology causes us to interpret scripture to fit our needs, desires and ambitions. It results in a women’s ministry that gathers tired moms and worn out wives that get together and ask, “What does this verse mean to you?”
Meology doesn’t feed the soul. In fact, it can’t.
Meology places a veil over the eyes of women driven by emotion and as a result, they adopt the message of culture while tying a Jesus bow on top. This is one of the reasons women who call themselves Christians are parroting the social justice message and condoning abortion.
We’ve stepped away from theology.
And I think I’m being a little too nice by saying we’ve stepped away from theology. I’m not sure we were ever standing in it to begin with.
To love God with all of our soul means we are transformed because of the message of the cross. The gospel alone is the only thing that will transform our hearts, minds and souls and point us toward becoming women of God who know how to address the issues of culture Biblically and theologically.
And women’s ministries are a powerful tool that can help accomplish this. But are they doing it?
In the end, I want to say again that not all women’s ministries are failing their women. But many of them are. Women are hungry for the word. I get messages every week and have many women joining my online apologetics classes because they want to KNOW what they believe, why they believe it and to articulate a defense of the faith.
I believe that many women’s ministries are going to see a decline in their attendance if they do not challenge and equip their women to go deeper in the word of God. Women are looking for strong teachers and leaders who can and will take them to depths of knowledge.
It’s time for women’s ministries to love God with everything within them and teach others to do the same. We don’t have time for the fluffy stuff anymore. Eternity hangs in the balance.
Apologetics anyone? Join my online class here.