In 2009 we had the first ever Generations…The Unbroken Chain: Ministry Through the Ages training event. It was such an eye-opening experience. One of the highlights was the “top ten” for each generation represented. This is the fourth in a series of “top 10s” in which I’ll share what the breakout leaders thought were the most important things for leaders to know about the generation they represented.
Our Gen X women’s track was led by Julie Woorduff, graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and women’s minister at Long Hollow Baptist in Hendersonville, TN. She writes Bible study curriculum and contributes articles to ministry leadership magazines. She is author of leader material and learning activities for discipleship resources written by T.W. Hunt and Beth Moore. Here is Julie’s top ten for young women and my comments.
1. Gen X women are hungry to see how biblical truth relates to daily life. Like other generations, they want casual authentic encounters with other women. By this age many have become disillusioned by life and relationships. Many have had broken marriages and often have seen church leaders be less than authentic. Embrace these women with love and with TIME as you lead them into the Word to show them how it relates to their lives. Help them discover passages that speak to where they are and how those principles truly do work.
2. These women want to see action. They are anxious to “do” ministry. Provide opportunities for them to make a difference in the community. Offer to help them discover pockets of needs in your neighborhood and then resources to meet those needs. Perhaps a “back to school meet at the bus” day. Have the provide coffee and donuts to moms with kids waiting for the first day of school bus. Perhaps they will connect with women who are also hungry to know how God’s Word will impact their walk and will offer a home Bible study like Frazzled Female, No Other Gods, or The Virtuous Woman.
3. This age woman has a need to relationships that go deeper than “hello”. They need real connection. To engage these ladies we must stop in the hall and really notice and talk to them. What about taking one to coffee once or twice a month? Maybe taking a different one each time to get to know about their lives. You may be able to connect her with someone else dealing with a similar situation.
4. Gen X women have a desire to process hurts or frustrations with others. Make sure that you do not flinch when they share huge issues. Give them the freedom and confidentiality to express the reality of their feelings. Help them channel them in a healthy way.
5. Gen X women long for companionship and friendship. This is similar to what we said in 3 and 4, but goes deeper than “coffee” and listening to their hearts. They need some women who will truly “do life” with them, sticking with them through long nights and repeated slips into bad habits. Then follow up with #6.
6. Equity and accountability in relationships is high on their list. They want to be with peers who are also struggling like them, but who will hold them accountable and ask them hard questions. Check out Heart Friends for help on starting accountability groups.
7. They are hungry for honesty and vulnerability from other women. They don’t want to just be told what you think they want to hear, they want to really know what you think. But they also want you to be vulnerable with them as you share truth. Tell them where you are struggling.
8. Gen X’ers long for TRUTH. The Truth! They need to see how the Word of God intersects with their life journey and how that will sustain then in a walk with Christ.
9. They are plagued by stress! They have stress of work, family, failure, ministry, the world’s needs, and on and on. Can we help them de-stress? Show them healthy spiritual outlets that will calm their spirits? Can we show them sk
ills for prioritizing their day so they don’t live in chaos? Training in simple home, time or financial management skills can be one way to help them clean up the clutter, eliminate the unnecessary and develop healthy spending habits can be a huge de-stressor!
10. Gen X women long for a place to belong and build relationships. We must provide a warm, caring environment for these women to find a place to belong, to build relationships, and to grow. Coffee houses didn’t develop by accident. Providing a “coffee house” type setting even on the church grounds can be an open door to reach out to these women.
11. (oops that’s not 10!) They need help in dealing with personal issues. Help in dealing with issues such as marriage, finances, weight loss and self esteem. These are some of the big hot topics they are facing and that they need guidance to handle in a way that honors God. Christian health and weight loss programs can help, as well as resources about marriage, and finance.
Not always an easy generation to reach, but such a valuable one that we must!
What else are you doing to reach Gen X? Share your ideas with us!