Three ways we boosted growth in women's ministries

by Captain Ruth Gibbons

The Cloquet, Minn., Women's Ministries was struggling with low membership for about two years when the Lord put it on our hearts to do something. In talking with the remaining members, we realized there wasn't any one reason or problem for the decline; people just weren't attending. So, here are the steps we took to boost our attendance.

1. Picking a more convenient time to meet  

This first step required a brainstorm session. We talked in general about what changes needed to be made. Based on feedback from the group, we chose a different meeting time, Monday evenings at 5:30 p.m., and for a good reason. Mondays don't interfere with our other ongoing corps events or clubs in our small town. In our case it was important to consider what's going on in our area since everyone knows each other. We chose to meet at 5:30 p.m. because it was just after our thrift store closes. Our store has become a mission field and community gathering place, and the employees (two of whom also attend the corps) were eager to invite many of their regular customers to attend our group. Many, who just happened to be in the store at the time of closing, ended up staying for our group!

Although the time was smack dab in the middle of the dinner hour, we found that the ladies adjusted. Soon, everyone was bringing a dish to pass, making for a delicious potluck!

2. Reaching out to the community

The second step we took was to prepare monthly meals at the Outreach Center, a daytime drop-in center in town. I asked some women who weren't able to attend our women's ministries group to help prepare this lunch so they could participate in a different way. Our goal was to provide a needed meal (for some, their only meal) and to get to know the community. In addition to spending time getting to know patrons of the Outreach Center, I passed out fliers of our schedule of worship and women's ministries meetings with a coupon for our thrift store. Many women began to attend our meetings from this outreach effort. 

3. Planning ahead together

Our third step was to start to include all of the members in planning meetings. We make our schedules three months ahead of time. There are a variety of ideas that come from these planning meetings and most have been very exciting and successful. The women are being stretched to perform crafts they didn't think they could do, learning to study God's Word when they didn't think they could, and finding a place where they can laugh, and even cry, in a safe, friendly environment. Plus, now they feel a sense of ownership in the group.       

At nearly every meeting a new person attends, and most have become regular attendees. We currently have 25 women regularly attending and are blessed and happy in the Lord!


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