As many of you know, we moved back to the DC metro area this summer. I have to say, I am SOOO disappointed.
There is NO CHURCH within 20 minutes drive of where I live that A) has a women’s Bible study on Wednesday evenings and B) has a good kid/student program at the same time.
(And considering there are most likely 100 churches within that 20 minutes drive, there is no reason I should have to drive further.)
Churches already don’t have anything on Sunday nights here, so most moms with kids get nothing but whatever they can get on Sunday morning, and that’s IT. So, if you have a Sunday School teacher who phones it in, that’s just too bad for you.
Yes, churches do have occasional Saturday morning activities (like a once a month women’s breakfast like our current church) but that’s it. CHURCHES– may we please examine the message you’re telling the women in your congregation? Inadvertently or otherwise?
(Why am I harping on Wednesday evenings? Because that is the traditional night for Bible studies to be scheduled. If a church said, we have found that Tuesday evenings tend to work better in our community, I’m all for that. Forget Sunday nights – like I said, NO ONE here has a Sunday evening program for adults, either.)
WHAT I HEAR WHEN I ASK ABOUT WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDIES
A) You should come when it’s convenient for US. And where.
— Well, I would if you were the least bit reasonable in that, and if it was when and where it was the slightest bit convenient to me, too.
B) If you work, then you can’t come when we offer that one study for SAHM’s per week, so you’re on you’re own.
— I am not lying, one of the church leaders at a church we visited gave me a LOOK when I told them that I was not taking off of work to go to MOPS meetings. Which is the only thing they offer. To ALL women. Dude, I have to work. Have to. It’s not a choice.
And would everyone quit trying to push me at their MOPS program, like that’s good enough? I’m not a mom of a preschooler, either, so why would I think this would pertain to me? (Don’t go defending MOPS, ladies, I know the groups are more open — but the name is misleading- why would I think of going if the name is MOPS?) And still, what about all the moms of preschoolers who still work? What good is that group to them??
C) Good little Christian women would be home and would be available to go when we tell them to go.
— ie. “Well, if you were fully committed to your faith you would be available to attend that mother’s group Bible study we only offer on Tuesday morning at 10am.” >> Don’t think I haven’t heard this as well this summer!!
— ie. “Sure, we have an evening Bible study on Tuesday evenings. In someone’s home. Across town in DC metro traffic during rush hour. With NO childcare…. Well, if you were fully committed, you’d go when we told you and where we told you when and where it was convenient for US. So you must not really be committed. So you’re on your own.
C) We tried that once, but not enough people came to make it worth it.
— How hard did you really try? Is it really because it’s not wanted or needed? Or was it not worth the effort, so no one came?
If it mattered enough to you and you cared enough to make it good enough, that the activities were WORTH making it a priority over other possible commitments and issues? People would come. I’ve seen it happen. But expecting me to continue when my kids are shoved in a room bored out of their minds? Not gonna last for long.
I could see that this is the case in an individual congregation perhaps. But every-single-church in the metropolitan area? (Or at least enough that it’s the rule and not the exception?) No. I don’t think so. This is a systematic problem.
D) We don’t offer childcare or ANY kind of kid program at the same time, but we still fully expect you to attend when we say you should.
— Yeah, like that is EVER GOING TO HAPPEN. What the heck do you want me to do? Have you seen the cost of childcare lately? Do you really think I have $15+ an hour to burn to go to a Bible study on a Tuesday night on a regular basis? Sure, I could leave them with “Dad” but when is “Dad” ever home on time?
E) Don’t I really need the “spiritual leader of our home” getting spiritually fed as well? Isn’t that important? So, why shouldn’t he go instead?
— Don’t you see? You are making us as parents CHOOSE who gets to be spiritually fed this week. And yes, I had a pastor’s wife tell me to “take turns.” Right, my not going to Bible study as a woman is because I don’t know how to share. Sure. Okay. So let’s talk reality.
What ends up happening is the mom says to herself, Yes, I’ll be the good little woman and stay home with the kids because I will sacrifice my own spiritual health for my husband. (I’ve seen this over and over and over and over here in US churches.) Or, in this area – the husbands that are constantly deployed or required to work late at any given moment. So, she just flat out gives up. Cause that’s where I’m at right now.
What does all that add up to, churches? You just don’t consider me a priority. You like to tell us how important we are as moms, but you fully expect us to do it all from a spiritually and permanently dry well.
No WONDER women don’t make their own spiritual walk a priority – you’ve all but told them they don’t need it and they don’t matter!
How have you told them that, you ask? Frankly, by all the above and more.
If you make it so HARD for them to get there, many will just give up in defeat. Why would they work so hard to go somewhere they don’t feel wanted?
Then, if they’re feeling like they need something but they’re can’t get it from you, that they must be bad moms or wrong! Frankly, if you don’t care about me, why should I care about myself?
Or why shouldn’t I go elsewhere, outside the church body, to find something/someone who does care about me? At least the PTA or sports team volunteering a mom often does – she get appreciated for that, and her kid gets something out of it.
CHURCHES, you say you want to support families.
- What kind of support and help are you giving the parents trying to be good role models for their children?
- What are those children learning from you? That moms don’t “deserve” or “need” spiritual support?
- We need to walk the walk for our children, but how can I role model spiritual faith priority for my children without the church supporting me with tools to do so?
This isn’t meant to be a criticism of any one church, of any one denomination, in any one church building — but of the overall, universal, Christian church. I have many, many friends in ministry that I hold dear, so please don’t take any of what I’ve said as an individual, criticism.
This is also not just here in the DC area, though I find it more obvious here. We saw this in PA as well. Even AL to some extent. And yes, I have actually been told every single thing above AND MORE, personally.
I wish, if I could have every single pastor/church leader read this message from a perennial outsider (one who moves regularly due to job transfers), is that your intent isn’t the problem.I know many in ministry, and I know this is not what you intend. But this is what is happening.
CHURCH LEADERS, HERE ARE SIGNS YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
- If your men’s ministry is thriving, but those men’s wives are not in an equally compelling program, or those men’s wives are not in a Bible study at all: YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
- If your men’s ministry is offering deep theological Bible studies, and your women’s ministry is offering teas and book clubs: YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
- If a certain large percentage of your church feels like everyone else’s faith is more important and not giving their own spiritual walk FIRST priority (because this is what moms do): YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
- If you are depending on that church down the street that hosts a women’s study that you don’t actively support and participate in the leadership in, to be the women’s Bible study ministry of your church: YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
- If you are not addressing these problems from the highest points of your church leadership, from the pulpit, and not by personal self-example: YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
We visited close to eight different churches this summer, in addition to researching and investigating countless churches within a reasonable driving radius. No, your intent isn’t the problem. But as a woman, the message that is being received, IS.