Crafts, Cream Teas and Chrysanthemums? How We Can Run Better Women’s Events

Anne Witton 1 year ago
Blog 3 mins
Found in: Church

I’d just returned from a (very good) women’s conference and been reflecting on how to do women’s events well, when I saw this Tweet:

‘Women only: If you were to design a women’s event for your church specifically for those who don’t like typical women’s ministry events, what would it involve?’1

This is something I’ve thought a lot about over the years, as a single, same-sex attracted, childless, non-girly woman who often struggles with typical Christian women’s offerings. And here at Living Out, we are keen to help Christians and churches think about how to run events that are biblically inclusive for people who may experience same-sex attraction and for those who are more gender non-conforming.

The responses to the tweet were fascinating and many reflected my own concerns and ideas. So here are some of my reflections prompted by that discussion.

  1. We need to think carefully about the colours and branding of our event. A quick Google image search of ‘Christian women’s conference’ reveals an array of flowers, hearts and swirly writing, usually on a pink background. Pink and overly floral design will mean that some amazing women of God will have been put off from even coming along in the first place. Neutral and tasteful design will mean that the event will have broader appeal to a more diverse range of Christian women. (The conference I’ve just been to did a good job of this, opting for a dark green and yellow colour scheme.)

  2. There is often a lack of theological depth in many women’s talks which is something many of us are concerned about. Women are intelligent and appreciate theological rigour and yet so often we dumb down Bible teaching like those shampoo adverts where a pretty woman will say ‘Here comes the science bit’ and then cut to a man in a lab coat.

    The way we communicate as women sometimes lacks a certain authority. I’ve heard female speakers say things like, ‘I’m told that the Greek word here means ‘loyal’ (or whatever).’ Whereas men are much more likely to just say ‘The Greek word…’. Having female speakers who can teach unapologetically and with authority is important.

    There are many highly gifted, intelligent and theologically astute women who can teach in depth about difficult biblical passages, so maybe it’s time to broaden our horizons beyond the typical passages (Proverbs 31:10-31 or Titus 2:3-5) and messages (‘God loves you’, ‘You’re beautiful’, ‘Your role as a wife and mum is important’).

  3. It’s good to acknowledge the diversity in the room. A lot of people will be married mothers and grandmothers, but a lot won’t. Speakers, bookstalls, seminars and activities all need to reflect this. One thing I’d love to see is practical seminars on topics like DIY and finance as well as more typical women’s issues like parenting, and menopause.

  4. As everyone is different, variety in social activities is key. One person’s idea of fun is another’s worst social nightmare so it’s good to go for a mixture. Some women do love crafts and cream teas, but mix in sport, curry, music (maybe a drumming workshop), nature walks, campfires, kayaking, scavenger hunts, board games… Be creative. Some women love adventure too!

    Social events that aren’t at church or someone’s house are important as they create a different dynamic and are easier to invite non-Christian friends along to.

  5. Another thing that many women really appreciate is unstructured time to just be together. Life is often highly scheduled and frenetic so time and space to be relaxed and real with each other is precious. Time to unwind and have fun without a theme or a speaker and quiet chill-out spaces where people can relax, read and think are all very valuable.

  6. It’s easy to make assumptions, but it’s better to do research. Find out what the women in your church or local area actually want. Have a diverse organising team that includes single, childless, and non-girly women.

  7. Practicalities can make a huge difference to who can come along. Don’t organise a men’s event for the same time so they can look after the kids. Even better – encourage the men to serve the women by doing the catering. Think about bursaries for women who can’t afford to attend.

  8. Working on a project towards a shared goal can be a great way of deepening community and friendships. Doing acts of service or volunteering together is a great way to bond as women and serve the local community. Some ideas are putting together care packs for refugees; serving together at a local soup kitchen; litter-picking in the park; forming a choir and visiting nursing homes or running skills-sharing sessions.

Those are just some ideas to think about making women’s conferences and social events more inclusive and appealing. There’s nothing wrong with crafts, cream teas and chrysanthemums as long as we remember that many women prefer canoeing, curry and cameras.

  1. @LShalott on Twitter, 21 March 2023