If you’ve been in a leadership role in your church for any length of time, you’ve likely become the woman others come to for answers. Whether it’s Sunday school classes, small groups, or weekly Bible studies, you know who will be there and what’s supposed to happen. But you still remember how it feels to have that first day anxiety, when you opened the door without knowing if anyone would be there to welcome you and make you feel accepted.
In our last blog post, several Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors—Karen Watts in West Texas, Kim Zolman in Indiana, Margaret Yost in Ohio, and Lyssette Smith in Florida—shared their advice and prayers for the woman who has stopped participating in worship services and weekly gatherings and who feels nervous about returning to church.
When you picture this woman, who comes to your mind?
- The young professional who has been watching services online since the start of the pandemic?
- The single mom or the caregiver to elderly parents who feels disconnected because she can’t attend regularly?
- The college student who never quite connected and slowly stopped coming around?
When you think about the women who have stopped attending services and events at your church, you’re not just discouraged because of declining attendance numbers—you miss the faces of the precious women who used to be a regular part of your ministry. Lyssette’s advice is to remember Galatians 6:9: “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”
Prayer, People & Praise
Each Ambassador shared a similar starting place for any leader who longs to see women return to her church community: pray.
Pray that God would stir women’s hearts to want to return to church. Reach out to them and encourage them, reminding them of things that are going on in the church—but do this without pushing. Show love, care, and concern. —Kim
Don’t skip this step.
As much as you can, keep making time for people. The Ambassadors know what it’s like to balance a busy schedule that’s packed, not just with ministry events, but with all the details and challenges of life at home. Ask the Lord to help you invest the time and resources you do have into the women you serve. Where you are not able to, Margaret recommended that you “admit your limitations and seasons of life and pass the baton to someone else.”
As God brings a specific woman to mind, reach out to her: call, email, or text her and ask her to coffee or to lunch. As often as you can, extend personal invitations to join a small group or attend a specific event or Bible study—you can’t underestimate the value of one-on-one communication. It speaks volumes to a lonely woman, letting her know she is seen and loved.
The Ambassadors also emphasized the importance of highlighting the good that God is already doing. Allow His exciting work to draw women back to the church. Karen advised sharing encouraging stories of God’s faithfulness. Margaret said to “be excited.” That’s part of your role as a leader—no matter how low your attendance may get, the smallest group of women is still worth honoring and celebrating. As Lyssette said, “Even if only one woman attends your events, that is one that the Lord has brought for you to minister to; she is essential.”
It’s important that a woman be grounded in her local church and make time for women’s ministry events during the week. The Ambassadors shared what answer they would give to the woman who has lost sight of the importance of being involved with the body of believers:
- Kim: It matters because God has told us in His Word to not give up meeting together (Heb. 10:25). It’s also important to have interactions with other believers. As it says in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” This happens when we are around other believers. We challenge one another, and we hold each other accountable in our walks with the Lord.
- Karen: It matters because it’s God’s mandate; it’s His directive for His people. Through the church, we spur one another on to love and good works (Heb. 10:24). Making time to interact with like-minded women provides perspective and connection, and sharing triumphs, truth, and struggles promotes our growth.
- Margaret: Alocal church is important for discipleship and accountability. Joining a study helps a woman give more time to God, and it helps to keep her in the Word.
- Lyssette: God created us as relational human beings, and we cannot live according to God’s Word [on our own]. We need to be disciplined, and we need to disciple other women (Titus 2:3–4). We need to be grounded in truth, which is His Word, so we can come together and do life together.
Those words can be easier said than believed, and as a leader, you’ve seen it all—the good and bad, the broken and beautiful. Spend time today reflecting on why you believe calling women back to the church is still a worthy pursuit. For Kim, it’s still worth it because . . .
The church matters to Christ. We are to be His representation to the world: a city on a hill for others to see and be drawn to Him. As we learn to work through the brokenness and the difficulties and the messiness that sometimes come within the church, we then grow in the characteristics that God is calling us to live out. The world should see a difference in how we respond and then be drawn to want to know more about Him. Time is too short here on earth, and we need to make the most of every opportunity to point others to Him. It’s all about Him and His glory.
When you encourage a woman to come back to regular participation in your local church, you’re not just asking her to come to an event or gathering—you’re pointing her to Christ. May every invitation be an opportunity for her to experience more of Him.
For more reasons to encourage other women (or yourself!) to persevere in relationship with the local church, listen to the Revive Our Hearts podcast series, “A Beautiful Mess, by Mark Vroegop.” You’ll be encouraged when you do.