Do you prefer a colorful gift sack or a brown paper lunch bag? Which is more appealing – a PBJ sandwich or a delicate-looking flower-shaped crustless chicken salad sandwich? Would you rather have store-bought cookies in their plastic packaging or homemade biscotti dipped in chocolate arranged on a silver tray?
Most of us like to see something that looks custom-made, something presented in an unusual way. The same can be said of women’s events! We mutter to ourselves when women don’t come to the events we plan. But do we really think about what to do to attract the attention of the women we want to come? Too many times, we just do the “same ole, same ole.” Then we wonder why the attendance is small, no younger women come, and the responses to our presentations are negligible.
If we want our women’s events to meet women’s needs and create interest in our groups or organizations, we need to be very intentional in our planning and execution of our plans. We must move away from the “tried and true” of women’s work. Just because it is fall, doesn’t mean that we should use fall leaves to decorate our meeting space!
So then, how can we move 180 degrees from ordinary? Here are some suggestions that might help you navigate the event waters and become more successful in involving women in missions and ministry.
Look around you for new ideas! Pay attention to advertisements in women’s magazines and the Sunday newspaper. You’ll see the new seasonal colors for clothing, new designs for paper goods, new home decor ideas, etc. Trend predictor Faith Popcorn has developed her trends business by listening to current music and reading company ads. Take what you see and read and relate it to your next women’s event. Colors, styles, decorating schemes can give your event (whether stage or tabletop displays) a fresh, new look!
Get the perspective of younger women! It might surprise you to hear what appeals to women younger than you and/or your leadership team. We have some misplaced misconceptions of what engages younger women in missions and ministry. “They only want fellowship.” “Young women are too busy to get involved in ministry projects.” “They are too busy.” “Young married women are only interested in their careers and families.” Write down two or three questions and interview several young women in and outside your group/church. Find out what interests them, what hobbies they have, what they have done in the community, and when is the best time during the week to involve them. You may be surprised by their responses! Let their answers guide you and your team in planning your next activity or event.
Customize something already in place. Your local newspaper may be a rich source of ideas you can customize for women’s work. Here’s an example: an article about a charity event might “translate” into a support event for a local ministry. Items could be donated (like for the charity event) and auctioned. Proceeds would help provide supplies for a Christian Women’s Job Corps site. It could be promoted as a “Black Tie” event, an opportunity for everyone to dress up (something not done too often in our churches). Decorations described in the newspaper article might be a springboard for ideas. Maybe you could even borrow those decorations! Don’t be afraid to ask for store promotional signs or displays or to borrow them. While your event’s purpose will be very different, the basic idea is one you can adapt to make it “on trend.”
Use time to your advantage. We have a tendency to think in “all at one time” segments. Rather than scheduling your event/activity for two or three hours, plan to present information or do a project in parts. The first session would be to give an overview of the project or basic information. If you are providing training, the first session would be giving out resources, suggesting reading and motivating participants to complete the training. The second session could be a PowerPoint presentation with time for brief discussion of information. The last session could facilitate application of the information through learning stations, hands-on ministry project or actually going together to a ministry site. As busy as women are today, a shorter time frame might make it more attractive to them. On the other hand, they may prefer to do it all at once and then move on! Customize what you want to teach to your women! But don’t limit yourself to traditional timeslots.
If you want your women’s groups and organizations to be 180 degrees from ordinary, you will have to look around you, observe and question, customize and be willing to step outside the traditional. Every woman needs to grow spiritually, needs to find God’s special place of service and become radically involved in missions. She can be challenged to do these things if you as leaders are willing to move from the ordinary to the extraordinary!
For more information, contact Eva De La Rosa, SENT Specialist, Women’s Ministries & Missions, at 559-229-9533, ext. 256 or by e-mail.