NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Does a GenX woman know how to talk to a teenage girl in a way that she will really listen? Does a collegiate woman know how to get a senior adult to mentor her in how to pray? Does a Boomer woman know sometimes the best ministry to a young adult woman might be teaching her how to make a killer lasagna?
The 625 women attending the Nov. 10-12, 2011, Women’s Leadership Forum got tips on things like this and more at the conference themed “Decades: Because We’re All In This Together.” The annual forum is sponsored by Lifeway Women, a ministry component of Lifeway Christian Resources.
Women of six generations — teenage to seniors — were the topic of more than 40 breakout conferences and discussion panels where women learned more about their own peers or discovered what they didn’t know about other age groups of women. Other conferences focused on intergenerational ministry.
Rachel Lovingood, a women’s ministry leader and pastor’s wife at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., hosted a panel where members talked to the audience and to each other about their needs and how they could contribute to women of other generations.
Ann Rice, representing the senior adult women, walked slowly, with a tremble, to reach for the microphone, then to the delight and laughter of the crowd, flung off her shawl, revealing her jeans, tennis shoes and bright red hoodie.
“Hey, girls, we need to change our thinking!” she said. “We’ve set our expectations that 55 is a senior adult, but it’s more like 75!”
Rice, a speaker from Little Rock, Ark., said that senior adult women are happy in their own crowds, “but we really want to be involved with younger generations. We’re like everyone else in that we want to be loved and involved.”
Jimmie Davis, girls’ ministry director at First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C., said one of the characteristics of teenage girls is that they have always known things to be individualized and instant.
“These girls are accustomed to having things their way, so they won’t be involved in a women’s event unless they have some input into the planning,” she said. “But if they help plan, and they know their friends will be there, they will absolutely get involved.”
Lovingood asked the women what they did to stay connected with teenagers.
Esther Burroughs, director of Esther Burroughs Ministries and retired evangelism consultant with the North American Mission Board, emphasized the importance of getting comfortable in the world of the younger generation.
“I text my granddaughters,” she said. “Every Thursday I text them a Scripture, and they know that I am praying for them. I’m learning how to tweet. I’m on Facebook. That’s where they are, so that’s where I want to be too.”
College-age women have one foot in each world, said Lauren Farmer, a project event coordinator at Lifeway.
“They want to mentor younger girls and build their leadership skills but at the same time they want to be mentored by older women who will teach them,” she said. “These girls live their lives by semesters. College is a high-pressure time where they are still trying to figure out what they are doing. Their lives and relationships are driven by technology.
Mickey McCloud, a simulcast coordinator associate at Lifeway, said the young adult women are “starving for relationships with older women.”
She continued, “The best way to get us involved is to just ask us. So many of us are still trying to figure out where we belong in church. We are always asking ourselves if we are really needed in our churches. We want to know that it will matter to someone if we go to an event.”
Burroughs said, “I see women my age sitting with their hands folded and their legs crossed. They’ve already done the jobs. I tell them, though, they aren’t through yet, that they are just now getting smart enough to have something to say!”
Travis Cottrell, worship pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., and worship leader for Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live events, led worship for the event.
by Polly House, Communications Department
All photos by Kent Harville.
Ann Rice, left, makes a point during the “Decades Women’s Forum Panel Discussion.” Other members of the discussion panel included Leighann McCoy (to Ann’s left), Julie Woodruff, Esther Burroughs, Jimmie Davis, Mickey McCloud, Lauren Farmer and moderator Rachel Lovingood.
“Lifeway Women Live Webcast: Minister’s Wives Get Real to Connect All Generations of Minister’s Wives” was moderated by Chris Adams and Paige Greene (far left). Panelists include (clockwise) Rachel Lovingood, Brandi Wilson, Jennifer Landrith and Leighann McCoy.