Women’s ministries are a beautiful and effective way to meet the needs of women in the Christian church. The word ministry means “to serve.” Ministries provide an outlet for women to serve their own faiths and learn how to serve others. Women’s ministries may host Bible studies, faith retreats, mission projects, or other events in the community.
Most churches today have women’s ministries, but they aren’t always geared toward older women. Women 55 and older may feel an age gap between themselves and other women in the ministry. Yet the Bible says older women are vital to the church, especially to mentor the younger generation. If you want to create a ministry for older women in your church or build on the one you already have, here is how to get started.
Build on a Need or Desire
At the heart of a ministry is the compassion and desire to do something – to make a positive change or fill a need within the church or community. Without a burden, a women’s ministry will turn into just a program. Before you can start a senior women’s ministry, you must have a compelling need. In many churches, this need can be to teach, encourage, and reach out to women in Christ.
Older women are great sources of wisdom and advice from real-life experiences. Starting an older women’s ministry on the basis of reaching out to the younger generation and offering help and prayer is a fantastic way to build a worthwhile outreach. If your church does not have a senior women’s ministry, this is an excellent foundation. Create an organized ministry with the goal of building up other women in your church.
Pray About It
On your journey to create a new senior women’s ministry, keep the Lord at the heart of all your actions. Pray to the Lord to work through you and use you to accomplish great things within your church. Let Him know you are an available worker for the task of creating a new ministry or building on your existing one. Be as Isaiah, who said, “Here am I; send me,” when the Lord asked whom shall go for us. Open yourself to the Word of God and His will for you, whether that is becoming the leader of the new ministry or doing something to establish one, but letting someone else take the helm. You may be the instrument God wants to use to get the ball rolling on a senior women’s ministry in your church.
You may begin by praying about what you wish to accomplish for your senior women’s ministry, but ultimately your prayer should focus on what God wants to accomplish through you. When you pray with the attitude of being a vessel for God’s work instead of your own, your prayer can take a more concise focus and direction. Pray for direction, guidance, and help while starting your women’s ministry. Pray for future leaders, for your pastor, and for volunteers to help with the ministry. Finally, pray that older women feel welcome and useful within the new ministry.
Meet with the Pastor
Once you’ve established your desire to create an older women’s ministry in your mind, heart, and soul, it’s time to start the work. Prepare for a meeting with the pastor and church leadership regarding your burden for senior women’s ministry. Get to the core of why you would like to start the group and articulate your thoughts clearly to leadership. Write down an outline of discussion points of why a senior women’s ministry should be a part of the church, how it will help women, and how it will positively impact the church as a whole.
Discuss the needs of women in your community and how the Lord has impressed upon you to create a ministry. List some of the objectives the ministry will have, such as starting a new prayer group or Bible study program. Include specifics, such as when and where the ministry will meet, and the general direction you believe the ministry will go. Thank your pastor for his time and wait for approval to proceed with your new ministry.
Bridge the Age Gap
Sometimes all it takes for older women to feel more at home in their church’s existing ministries is a bit of work to bridge the age gap. Titus 2 in the Bible instructs older women to “be reverent in the way they live” and to “teach what is good” to younger women. Younger women need the older generation in women’s ministries to help guide and educate them in the ways of faith, the church, and personal relationships.
If you feel that your ministry caters more to a younger crowd, there are things you can do to facilitate a more elderly-friendly environment. Here are five tips to blend your women’s ministry more fully:
- Invite more elderly women to join. When a ministry hosts an event for new members, intentionally extend invitations to older women. Initiating more women of all ages will help engender feelings of a mixed community.
- Encourage testimonies from older women. In group settings, ask to hear testimonies from some of the older women regarding their faith. It is encouraging for younger women to hear stories from their female elders, finding things they have in common and giving hope to women in similar circumstances.
- Assign cross-generational prayer buddies. Coupling an older woman and a younger woman to pray together is an excellent way for women to get to know one another, see the needs of the other woman, and be a part of what God is doing in the lives of those around them.
- Make older women feel special. Age gaps often stem from older women feeling left out, out of place, or unwanted. Include older women in conversations, asking for their opinions and complimenting them. The more younger members interact with senior members, the more comfortable the latter will feel.
- Utilize older women. Do not assume older women in the ministry cannot or do not want to perform tasks and jobs for events. Assign older women jobs they are able to perform, such as serving as greeters, participating in the food committee, or leading a prayer circle. Older women want to feel needed and useful.
Most of all, treat older women with respect and deference, showing them they are a necessary and integral part of the ministry. Older women have a great many things to offer ministries if the younger generation takes the time to encourage their participation.