Christ Life Works - Especially for Women
Where did all the women go? According to the research team at Barna,
churches are not only losing ground with Americans, but, even more
troubling, we are losing the support of our strongest base of Americans -
women. For decades, if not centuries, women have been the unsung leaders and mobilizers of parish involvement. While
the research describes the most likely causes of women's growing
disinterest, it may also give cause for confidence in what Christ Life can offer. We are losing women due to:
1. COMPETING PRIORITIES
According to the research of Barna and Kinnaman, "Women far and away ranked family relationships as their top priority (68%)." Church or religious activities came in a very distant second (11%) just ahead of personal development (10%). Still, these women report a continuing interest in resources that are relevant to personal spiritual development, especially if the resources can be share with loved ones. Parishes can offer Christ Life in a variety of ways for personal use, for use in the home, or for use by groups of women or couples who want to grow in faith together.
Women are busy and stressed. They desire opportunities to slow down and put life in perspective. Although only 5% of women selected church or religious activities as their top time commitment, this is the area of life that most women express a desire to improve. Churches that respond to this spiritual hunger will grow and thrive with their support again. For decades small faith groups have outperformed other parish strategies in effecting greater satisfaction and meaning in life. This is a decided strength for Christ Life.
3. LACK OF EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT AND SUPPORT
In their book, Churchless, Barna and Kinnaman report that "Nearly half of women (43%) said they do not feel any emotional support at all from church." Faith happens in relationships both inside and outside of the parish, on and off campus. Stories abound of people who drift away unnoticed and become lost to the parish. No matter how effective a parish is at welcoming people through the front door, intentional faith groups such as Christ Life are essential to making church sticky, and eliminating losses out the back door.
4. THE FAMILY REIMAGINED
Because traditional family structures and practices are rapidly waning. Responsive churches will adapt programs for all their people. Successful marriage preparation, child sacramental preparation and adult faith formation experiences allow women to share the God sightings that accompany the successes and struggles of life. Small church groups like Christ Life are among the most effective methods used by parishes today. Christ Life forms and equips women to make faith a vibrant part of life on campus, at home or online.
5. FLUIDITY IN BELIEFS
Interestingly a majority of unchurched women still say they are Christian, despite their absence on Sunday mornings. Due to the unprecedented amounts of mobility and change particularly in the lives of Millennials, including many women, there are few institutions that can keep up and provide them with a consistent faith identity. Reaching out to disenfranchised women is a significant challenge that must be addressed now if we want to empower this centuries-old base of support for parish vitality.
Many women are developing a personal church community that spans their real and digital relationships. And because today, belonging leads to believing, far more often than believing leads to belonging, small faith groups can provide a simple and flexible community for women engaged in parish life.
If you want to see what your parish can achieve by establishing just a few small faith groups like Christ Life contact: Office for Evangelization and Parish Life
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