When I was a young mom back in the 70s (yes, I was VERY young!), I wanted to be in a women’s Bible study. I had been in Bible Study Fellowship before having our first baby. But, there was no nursery for her, and I was new in town knowing no one to trust to care for her. And, I didn’t have a car to drive up to North Dallas from Duncanville anyway. Our church didn’t offer any kind of women’s daytime study. It wasn’t as common back then for churches to offer an assortment of women’s Bible studies during the week. So, I invited a few women from my church to start meeting for a weekday Bible study. We could meet at my house. No problem. But, between us all, we had 6 children under the age of 3. That required some kind of affordable, trustworthy childcare. A dear older woman stepped up and offered to take care of our children for $2 each. Without her, we would not have been able to really focus on the Word as we met. We moms were so grateful to her for that.
As my family grew to 3 children, and as I got more involved in women’s ministry in other churches, I became convinced that quality childcare for women’s Bible studies (and other ministry events) is key to an effective women’s ministry that mixes up the generations. And, one piece of evidence that a church really values ministry to women is how much money is in its yearly budget for childcare personnel and training to support women’s ministry. I can testify to knowing one church in particular that does just that.
In the 90s, I became involved in women’s ministry at Crossroads Bible Church in Double Oak, Texas. We probably had 60 women attending our weekday Bible study. At first, we took an offering each week to cover childcare costs, hoping we would have enough to pay our dedicated workers. Then, the elders of the church voted to underwrite our childcare, meaning we would still take an offering, but they would fund the rest of what was needed and pay the teachers through the church budget. By the early 2000s, we had 200 women attending. The cost of childcare climbed, but so did this church’s commitment to its ministry to women, covering the entire cost of childcare.
Crossroads hired a director for the childcare ministry and provided training for all the teachers. I was asked to write an easy-to-use curriculum that made it easy for anyone to walk in and teach a Bible story without preparation. (Not as easy to find back then.) The elders continued to put in the yearly budget enough money to cover the cost of childcare. Women who were unchurched were blown away by this as they started attending the Bible study. It drew them to trust in the Christ we were teaching and to stay at Crossroads. Many women who moved here from other churches were also blown away by this generosity from the elders and confirmation of how much they valued ministry to women.
The reverse also happened. Some of those who had been in our Bible study for several years, feeling really valued by our elders, moved away to other parts of the country where women have to scrap for everything they want to do in a church and pay to hire babysitters themselves just to meet for Bible study. Or, they had to set up a volunteer system (which hardly ever works). One lady who moved to Oklahoma told me that she didn’t feel valued at all in her new church. There was such a sharp contrast with what was exhibited at Crossroads for women’s ministry.
Here it is in 2015. I am still in a daytime women’s study at Crossroads with lots of young moms. These women, who are already sacrificing a second paycheck to stay home with their children, are only asked to pay a small registration fee to cover breakfast each week and some study materials. Once again, I heard the announcement this past Wednesday that “childcare is free to you because our elders value this ministry so much.” The church has gone up and down in size through the years, but the elders still value ministry to women so much that a large childcare budget is included every year. And, I am the one who is blown away by this generosity and honor I’ve witnessed and experienced the past 20 years.
Adorn Yourself with Godliness Bible Study (read online)
Adorn Yourself with Godliness Bible Study (download pdf)