10/10/2007 - George Tells Pastors What Women Church Members Want Them To Know
When Birmingham author and speaker Denise George announced she would write "What Women Wish Pastors Knew," she said she received an "avalanche" of responses to her survey requests.
"I heard from women ages 18 to 92 and from 30 different denominations," she said. "I received some 10-page handwritten letters, too, so these women had a lot to say! They told me they loved their pastors and their churches, but they wanted their pastors to know some things that might help them in their work."
George is a teacher at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham and the author of 20 books and more than 1200 articles.
She was featured speaker at Judson College's annual pastors seminar Oct. 9. The meeting was co-sponsored by the college and the Office of LeaderCare and Church Administration of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
George said she was inspired to write "What Women Wish Pastors Knew" after finding no other book available on this topic.
"I discovered that women are tired," George said. "Two-thirds of women are employed outside the home, and three-fourths of these work full-time. Six out of 10 in the workforce have children age three or under. Responders to my survey said they sometimes must decline extra jobs at the church simply because they're exhausted, and pastors need to know this."
George further discovered in her survey that women suffer with various disappointments.
"Marva wrote to tell me about being infertile, as one in 44 women of child-bearing age are. She loves her church, but doesn’t attend on Mother's Day or baby dedication day."
George said 43 out of every 100 women, including those in churches, have had or will have abortions, and many suffer from "post abortion syndrome."
One in four women were sexually abused as children and have "scars inside," she said. And one in five married women suffer spousal abuse.
"Some women care for husbands with Alzheimer's disease since one in 10 over age 65 have this disease and one-half of those over 85," George said. "And there are 10 million widows in America. These women can be very broken, financially insecure and lonely."
George said that divorce is another issue women struggle with.
"Fifty percent of women have been divorced or will divorce," she said. "Often the church ignores those going through this ordeal. We care for people who lose a spouse through death, but really don't know what to say when a marriage dies."
George said pastors can stimulate discussion by asking women church members how they're doing, especially when they perceive there are problems.
"Pastors can do counseling or make referrals by being pro-active," she said.
George further urged pastors to foster women's ministries in their churches since these give opportunity for women to have Christian friends, enjoy fellowship and deal with issues they might feel uncomfortable talking with men about.
"Women 'befriend and tend' to one another," she said.
Pastors should also sponsor women's seminars in their churches which give women opportunity to learn from others, many of whom are "wounded healers" who've been through trauma themselves, George said.
George said her survey found that women hunger for sermons and Bible studies filled with deep theological truth, not "spiritual fluff" or entertainment. They want their pastor to speak to their needs.
"A simple thing pastors can do is to use more stories and examples about women in the Bible rather than just talk about the men," she said.
George also discovered women want to work in their churches and to share their vision for ministry.
"One bank president told me that church leadership refused her service on the finance committee simply because she's a woman," George said.
"Women make up about 60 percent of most churches, and they can use their unique gifts to make the church stronger and better. Pastors should welcome this," she said.
"What Women Wish Pastors Knew" was published earlier this year by Zondervan Press.