leading ladies

Today the Christian Standard enewsletter includes a mention of Harvester Christian Church’s “Daybreak” women’s retreat, an all-Saturday event that includes workshops on a variety of topics. Some of the most popular workshops this year are floral design, jewelry-making, and cooking like Paula Deen—at least, these sessions are already at capacity and closed to registrations.

I understand women’s (and men’s) ministry in theory, but I find most churches fall into some stereotyped patterns with their programming–for the women, some variation on the brunch/tea/book club/MOPS stuff; for the men, a variety of Wild at Heart/outdoor sports/high-cholesterol breakfast events. (Woe to the woman who enjoys fishing and bacon or the man who likes sipping herbal tea.)

But even more than the activities, I wrestle with the philosophy. I’m all for anything that promotes genuine relationships among women and encourages them to Christlikeness, but for me that means doing ministry out of my giftedness (while being a woman) more than it means attending events targeted for women.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. I occasionally attend an all-ladies event (in fact, I’m going to a brunch this Saturday) but I’m more energized by a Habitat for Humanity build, elementary school tutoring session, or in-depth study of a gender-neutral topic. And even among the women-only events I’ve experienced, the best—like a cross-generational Bible reading group—were meaningful because of spiritual depth and purpose, not because of chromosomes.

Ladies, what’s your take–does the women’s ministry at your church encourage you, help you to grow, and provide outreach opportunities? Is it an important part of your spiritual or social life?