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Women Are Most Likely to Leave the Church. How Can We Fix That?

Women Are Most Likely to Leave the Church. How Can We Fix That?

Scripture is rich with stories of remarkable women who shaped the course of history. Through their narratives, we witness the full spectrum of the human experience — triumphs and trials, love and loss, sin and redemption. They mirror our lives and those of our friends, mothers, sisters, daughters, and colleagues. These women were not just influencers; they were pivotal teachers and role models who brought a personal touch to the divine.

In a time when society was male-dominated,  Mary Magdalene was the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection  (John 20). Women followed Jesus through His final affliction, even to the foot of the cross (Mark 15:40).

Examples abound elsewhere, both prior to Jesus’ life and following it. Priscilla, for instance, was a co-worker of Paul’s and an incisive teacher of the gospel. Lydia was a successful businesswoman, the first European convert, and the founder of the church in Philippi. Before Jesus’ coming, Esther averted genocide and secured the protection and prosperity of the Jews in Persia.

Women have never been sidelined in the Bible. They broke through the norms of their respective times, again and again, to defend and heroically lead their people and their faith. These accounts make it clear: Women are not just a part of Christian history; they are vital to its future.

If we as Christians want a future at all, it must be a future where women can thrive in the Church.

Women are half of any given congregation — often more. They play a pivotal role in nurturing faith within families, and their presence and leadership are indispensable. We can’t diminish women in the Church without serious long-term demographic repercussions.

However, it’s not enough to avoid diminishing women’s roles; we must actively celebrate and support them. Women in leadership are often particularly adept at “people-centered” or “human” management, especially in times of crisis. Through countless hours of unpaid ministry work, they diligently and lovingly foster relationships and perform the unseen, unending acts of service that keep so many churches running smoothly.

Yet, if young women are absent from the church, they will miss the opportunity to lead. And increasing numbers of them just aren’t showing up.

Alarmingly, women have been leaving the church for years now. Young women in particular are more likely than men to identify as religious “nones.” A staggering 85% of unchurched women are “de-churched,” meaning they have given the church a chance and intentionally broken with it.

If we want to reverse this trend, we must create an environment that not only welcomes but also honors women’s contributions. We must recognize and develop the ministerial talents of women, ensuring they are fairly compensated. We must strive for balanced representation in church leadership, demonstrating a clear path to leadership and fulfillment.

Show young women that they have a future in the church, a path to leadership, excellence and fulfillment. Inspire them. Model strong women’s ministry for them, because young women need to see that others like them are showing up and succeeding. They need to see other women flourish to know that it’s possible for them to do the same.

At the Bay Area Christian Church, we are proud that nearly half of our paid ministry staff is female. Every ministry that is led by a male has a female co-leader. We are committed to fostering excellence among the women in our congregation because their success is synonymous with ours.

Women’s History Month just wrapped up, and my hope is that it served as a reminder of the importance of is a chance for every church to  reflecting on the stories Scripture gives us of women’s bold, creative, and indispensable contributions all year long. It’s a chance for the church to learn from these stories. There is no future for us without such ministry.

If we want to honor women’s history in the church, we must help build their future in it.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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