As I look around my office, it is filled with picture frames that line the ledge of the window sills, the shelves of my bookcases and grace the walls. While many of these are pictures of my family, many are also pictures of women who have influenced my life for the Kingdom of God. They are ladies who taught me lessons from His Word, that pray with and for me and with whom I have had the opportunity to serve alongside.
Over 50 percent of the women in these pictures are of the Builder Generation. They are ladies who have served the Lord Jesus where He had them and allowed me to learn and glean from them. Many of them were ladies that I not only served alongside in their ministry endeavors, but many of them have come and served alongside me in things the Lord has called me to do.
I think the enemy tries to make ministry among the various generations of women difficult because a house divided will not be able to stand (Mark 3:25, NASB). If the women are arguing and not working together, it renders them ineffective for ministry.
Often I hear women’s ministry leaders comment on the hardships that they experience with getting the older women involved or getting the younger women involved. Then connecting these older and younger generations together proves to be a challenge as well.
We make this generational issue so much deeper than it really is or needs to be.
So, how to we minister with the Builder Generation?
1. Ask them to help in ministry scenarios – As I mentioned in a previous post, this generation is filled with knowledge and know-how, but they will not ask for help nor will they volunteer themselves. I think that part of this is because this generation thinks succeeding generations don’t want to hear from them. That is a fault of the succeeding generations because we need these builders involved and we need their experience and expertise. Ask these builders to be involved whether it is with a Bible study, an outreach opportunity, Vacation Bible School, or implementing a women’s ministry event. They desire to be involved, but they want to be asked and asked personally – not with a generic letter. These will be your faithful, committed volunteers who show up and are glad to help and serve.
2. Include them in leadership roles – The ladies of the Builder Generation are women who have been in the church for many different seasons – seasons of change and seasons of leadership. There is much to be gleaned from their knowledge and expertise. Involving these ladies in leadership roles would include on women’s ministry leadership teams/councils, Bible study leaders, as advisors for visions and events, and as ladies who know how to reach their own generation. Ask them for their advice and input. When they understand that the younger generations of the church do want them to be a part of ministry, they are more likely to help and take part. Additionally, these ladies will be the ones to advocate among their friends.
3. Get them involved in mentoring teaching the younger generations – Mentoring is such a scary word. Some ladies think that in order to be a mentor it is necessary to “have it all together.” The true biblical word used in Titus 2:3-5 is the “teach” or “train.” The word “mentor” comes from Greek literature. This was the name of Odysseus’ friend who helped him in Homer’s The Odyssey. Teaching or training sounds a lot less intimidating. Regardless, younger ladies truly desire to have older women invest in their lives and teach them the things of God and the things of life. Do what you can to connect the older generation to the younger generation. You might hear of a younger lady who is struggling in her marriage, with being single, with having small children, with loses in life or a variety of other things. This is a great opportunity to connect her with an older, godly lady in your church who has experienced those things, too, can walk with her, and point her to the things of God.
Additionally, younger ladies do not have to be “going through” rough times to be connected to the older generation of ladies. Some of my most cherished moments of learning have come as an older lady has allowed me into her home and let me help in the kitchen or as she is going about her daily tasks. A large part of this comes on the part of the older ladies. But, ask them to be involved.
4. Prayer partners – The other night I was speaking to a dear friend of mine on the phone. She is a former missionary and medical doctor who is in her late 80s and in failing health. However, for many years she has been one of my chief prayer warriors. I was truly upset when she said to me during our conversation, “Well, Ashley, I can’t do much for you, but I can pray and I do pray.” It upset me because I need her prayers and I know that she is faithful to pray and she thought that was the extent of what she could do. No way.
I have observed that my friends that are in this generation are faithful to pray – more so than the people of my generation. That’s not a slam against my generation, but a sign of seeing how the Lord has moved to such an extent among the older generation as they have walked with Him during their lives that they know He is faithful. Women in our churches today need prayer. If you have a prayer ministry (or need to begin one) the women of the Builder Generation can spearhead the prayer effort. Allow them to be the ones to take the prayer needs and pray for the women involved. Let them make the contact to the women to tell them that someone indeed is praying. While a huge problem among the younger generation is lack of commitment, this older generation will faithfully pray for their younger sisters in Christ.
5. Saturday morning brunch – As a college student, one of my responsibilities within our college ministry council was to connect our college students with the larger church body. One of the ways that we did this was to have a Saturday morning brunch that was planned by the college students. However, our program was made up of ladies in our church that gave their testimonies. Several of these ladies were from the Builder Generation and they shared their testimonies – the good and the not so good. However, this opened the door in so many ways for the generations in our church. First, this allowed the older women an opportunity to serve, be involved, and give the Lord glory for what He had done in their lives. Second, hearing from the older ladies in our church made them “real” to the younger women in attendance. Based on the variety of women on our panel, there was someone with whom you could identify. I will never forget watching my fellow GenXers furiously taking notes as these ladies were speaking and sharing Scripture. Third, this helps foster future ministry. From this one March morning in 2000, many connections were made that still exist almost 13 years later.
These are just some ideas for involving older ladies in ministry. Next week you will hear a challenge from one of my favorite people, and a dear older woman in Christ and friend, Esther Burroughs, as she challenges the women of her Builder Generation to be involved in the lives of the younger women in Christ.