A college co-ed ventures out into the world. An elderly widow grieves. A single mother struggles to raise children while a busy wife juggles a hectic family schedule. A teenage girl imagines all that life offers.
These are the just a few of the faces of American women today. Each journeys through a different stage or “season” of life with its own unique challenges and struggles, yet having common spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.
This paradox presents a special challenge as women’s ministry directors, conferences leaders, and churches work to meet the wide-ranging needs across the generations of women.
“I believe that learning about the generational distinctives is a good way to begin to bridge the generations,” said Anita Wood, a leadership team member for the SBTC’s women’s ministry. “There are excellent books about the generations, and it is astonishing to realize that today there are five living generations for the first time in recorded history. This is a challenge personally and corporately for our churches. Churches can meet needs across generations by facilitating and promoting intergenerational relationships.”
Churches bridging the generation gap are doing so intentionally, said Laurie Cole, founder of Priority Ministries. In her Bible study and teaching ministry, Cole has seen the need for cross-generational ministries and methods that work.
“I go to a lot of different churches, and the people we are not reaching are typically our younger women,” Cole said. “Churches that are successful are those that have determined that they are going to reach these women. Women’s ministry leaders in each church need to include younger women in events planning and in the program. This gives them input.”
Cheryl Barger, women’s ministry director at The Church at Quail Creek (formerly San Jacinto Baptist Church) in Amarillo, agrees. “I have a women’s ministry team. I try to have two women from every age group on my team at all times.” In addition to planning and organizing events, Barger seeks to have activities in which all age groups can participate, such as cooking a banquet or luncheon together, decorating for events, praying together, and using ladies from all generations to give testimonies or speak at events.
“I know these seem like very simple ideas, but I have found that if I can bring them together on a social level that they bond there, and it is carried over to their Bible studies,” Barger said. “My experience in the difference in the needs and preferences of the women is that they do not relate to each other because their worlds are different socially. Married vs. widowed, mothers vs. grandmothers, newspapers for information vs. television and computers, scratch cooking vs. microwaves.
“Finding a way to have them teach each other the benefits of using these aspects of their lives is the key. Once they have bonded on this level, they enjoy each other more and glean from each other, both physically and spiritually.”
In addition to bridging the gap in event planning and execution, churches are also using intergenerational Bible studies and Su
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