The Church's Next Great Crisis

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at Church Planters Velocity Conference about engaging our young women in the church.  This was the overview of my session:

Cultivate Her: Developing the Women Leaders in Your Church & Why It’s Essential

What would happen if half of your leadership horsepower walked away from your ministry?  Statistically over 57% of volunteers within the church are female.  How are you engaging the women leaders in your church?  Do they know their potential to serve?  We’ll discuss why clearly embracing the essential role of women in ministry will set your church up for reaching a generation of leaders that are discounting the church’s interest in engaging their gifts.

I believe that the next great crisis for our churches is the engagement of today’s young women. Today’s 20/30 something woman looks a lot different than women 20 years ago and I think there are things that we as a church can do to more actively engage their gifts and their strengths.  In fact, I believe that if we don’t engage them, we’ll lose their gifts to other organizations that are vying for their time and their talents.

Did you know?

  • The average age women get married now is between the ages of 28-31
  • There are more single women than married women in the US today
  • Women are more educated than ever before

With those statistics in mind, consider these questions:

  • Where do women most visibly serve in your church?  The café, the nursery?  How about production, on stage, on leadership teams?
  • What percentage of your key leaders are women?
  • When do you offer women’s groups and at what times?  Are they mostly during the day and targeted to moms?  Or do you have evening groups and subjects that connect with professional women and singles?
  • If you were a single, professional young women would you be able to easily identify where you fit inside your church?

What do you think?  Are we on the verge of a crisis?

How is your church effectively engaging this young generation of women in our churches?  I would love to hear what’s working for you!

** If you’re interested in hearing my entire talk from Velocity, click here to listen.

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  • Katie March 2, 2011  


    I completely agree with this! I am a 21 year old graduate student who just began the process to become ordained. I am also currently leading a state wide young adults movement and I am thankful that older leaders gave me the chance to have such a leadership position. It’s definitely a learning process and I am grateful that I have older adults who can walk with me through these moments. I am so blessed that I forget that there are many young women who do not have the same opportunity to lead within the church as I do. My heart hurts for the women, around my age, who feel called to be leaders in God’s house but are not involved with a church that will allow them. If we don’t use them, we will lose them. I pray that God keeps using more people, like you, to speak this powerful message.
    Even more than just women, I think the church needs to focus more on reaching and rising up young adult leaders, both women and men. I also think that it’s vital that children and teenagers see women in church leadership position, so that our little sisters don’t grow up believing that the only way they can serve the church body is by cooking and working nursery. (I’ve done both and loved them! However, I believe that young girls within our churches need to have the opportunity to see women in all aspects of leadership and servanthood.)

    • Jenni Catron March 3, 2011  

      Katie, so excited to see how God continues to work in your life!

  • Sherie March 2, 2011  

    So good! Thanks Jenni, this is something that really resonates with my heart. I didn’t have the role models and opportunities when I was in my 20s or even most of my 30s. Now, I want to be a model, advocate, and mentor for others. I look at young adults and want to blow open the doors for them, especially those that need that hand up to make it in leadership. I want women to see and know opportunities to serve that fit their gifting, instead of the only filling the gaps of where service is needed because of the programs we have designed. If volunteers aren’t stepping up for our programs, maybe we need to rethinking them. (Just a thought, don’t shoot me!)

    I recently sat in a ministry leadership meeting with three men talking about how the organization can engage with churches. One of the men voiced out loud his assumption that men, especially church leaders/pastors, needed to be ones that did the front line engagements. It was voiced as a question and I was thankful for the pastor who spoke up and said, no, women are vital to the ministry and they sometimes can express messages and engage in ways that we as men are not able to. It is times like that where the diversity and beauty of God’s creation in body start to be seen.

    • Jenni Catron March 3, 2011  

      Sherie, thank you for being a champion for the other women around you! I admire your heart to serve and support them!

  • Jen March 2, 2011  

    I am so grateful to serve at a church that embraces women in all types of leadership roles! I stink at working with babies or kids and having the opportunity be our Music Director and one of our contract worship leaders is truly a dream come true!

    I remember telling my dad when I was younger that I wanted to be a worship leader when I grew up and how crushed I was when he (gently) informed me that God didn’t approve of my desire. Every time I’m leading our music and I look out at our people I’m grateful 1. that I get to do what I love every day but 2. that those younger girls present are going to grow up thinking it is totally NORMAL for a woman to be leading the music.

    • Jenni Catron March 3, 2011  

      Congratulations Jen… what a gift that you get to serve from your passion! Keep representing Him well!

  • Bethany Planton March 3, 2011  

    Jenni, thank you so much for putting this idea out there. I have experienced some of this in my own life. I am 22 years old and have the gift of leadership. Now at the church I currently attend, I have been able to use those gifts. But at the nonprofit I work for there has not been as much opportunity to use my leadership skills. One of my biggest complaints is that our board is made up of all white, mostly older males. I think Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Destructive Male speech can apply to this situation not just to government. There are both men and women in the world and both need to be represented or it is only 1/2 of the whole. In the church, there needs to be opportunities for both women and men to serve in their giftings even if they sort of go against the current culture norms.

    • Jenni Catron March 3, 2011  

      Bethany, praying for you. Proud of you for pursuing your gifts as a leader!