(Given at the Advanced Writers & Speakers Convention, Denver, CO)
The average American woman is changing. Today’s girls have bigger shoulders, wider waists, and slimmer hips so clothing manufacturers adjust to fit that profile. Like clothing manufacturers accommodate change, as women who minister to women, we must adjust the way we communicate to fit existing needs. Please note: I didn’t say adjust the message, only our communication styles and approach. Like clothing, we still have to cover the bare essentials!
Today’s women are interested in being effective mothers. But according to US Census figures, today’s Mom is likely to be single, unemployed or underemployed, and rearing her children alone? One little child recently reported, “Only two kids in the first grade have both their parents.” Our messages to mothers have to reflect this reality.
Becoming a mother is more dangerous than ever. The Center for Disease Control reports the Number 1 cause of death for a pregnant woman is murder by the hands of the baby’s father. Address this issue.
Some speculate that the sharp rise in the use of anti-depressants among woman is due to suppressed grief — also called post abortion trauma. Address this issue.
The shape of today’s families has changed, too. Women are more likely to live alone, be divorced, widowed, or wed to a career. So loneliness needs to be acknowledged when we speak to groups.
Even if a family is a Mom and Dad who stay together and practicing Christianity, by some statistics, 60 percent of children will leave the Church, never to return. Speak to the grief of those parents.
Sexual issues are always on center stage, but promiscuous lifestyles are taking a toll. The CDC says that nearly half of the young people ages 18-25 have an incurable sexually transmitted disease. These young people are considering marriage and each partner will come to the marriage bed with dangerous health issues. Be relevant: Speak to the issue.
Young women are experimenting with lesbianism or bisexuality. Address this.
But the person I really want to discuss is you, the woman called to reach today’s women. Are you adjusting your communication style to fit needs?
We have before us today a greater challenge and opportunity than at any time in world history. Opportunities are tremendous, but we have to be willing to be educated, relevant, and committed.
Insofar as education, I’m speaking of Biblical education. There is so much popular psychobabble masquerading as truth — not so different from the days when Paul advised Timothy to not get involved in theological tail chasing, but to “study to show himself an unashamed workman who could rightly handle the Word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Isaiah’s calling resonates. In Isaiah 6, God was looking for someone to send to a people described as ever hearing but never listening, ever seeing but never getting the picture. God spoke into the universe: “Who shall I send?”
Isaiah volunteered. “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”
God specifically trained him to speak to those sick of the way they were living and looking for God — ripe fruit.
Isaiah describes his education like this: “The Sovereign Lord instructed my tongue to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens … my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears and I have not been rebellious. I have not drawn back.”
Many have drawn back and written this generation off as beyond salvation because they do not respond to yesterday’s methods of communication or safe subjects. Paul addressed this: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. Make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:5, 6) In other words: Address today’s issues with healing words.
God is looking for women who are willing to fit into His plans to reach this generation, not try to box Him up in conventionality. He may require new modes of evangelism. Teaching may take on different shapes. But today’s woman can be reached with the Gospel — that I am sure of because Jesus is still the Answer.
I believe that God is calling into the universe concerning this generation: “Who shall I send to them?” He is calling for women to send to this sick and weary generation who will not flinch from speaking the truth and addressing the issues, who will daily seek God’s voice and train their ears to hear His word; who are willing to be a part of something new and say to God, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”
© Rebekah Binkley Montgomery 2005
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