Just as the Apostle Paul wrote letters to churches and to other Christians in order to provide comfort, encouragement, and to offer advice, I am writing this letter to you.
First, I want to acknowledge your mission-minded hearts and your diligence to fulfilling the Great Commission. You are so inspiring to everyone who knows of your efforts. The church could not pursue the Great Commission in the ground breaking ways it has if it were not for you! You have great respect from me and many. If no one has told just how amazing you are lately and how greatly needed you are, hear it from me. Thank You!
But current WMU member, there is a problem. Your WMU chapter is slowly dying out. Your fellow members are your age. No one new has joined in years. Your presence has decreased. Younger generations have no idea what you do for them and for the church because they don’t even know what you are.
And the scariest part? If you die out, missions in the church will begin to die out.
Don’t get me wrong! There will always be energetic young couples who see a need and will rise to meet it, furthering the mission of the church. Youth groups will probably always go on mission trips. But you ladies are the ones who fund these trips. You ladies are the ones who instill the passion for missions in the children, a passion that they will carry throughout their lives. If WMU dies out, then the church looses an amazing resource for foreign and domestic missions.
So it’s time to start doing something about it! It’s time to start caring! It’s time to reach out to these younger generations! Because if you want your program to continue making an impact, you’re going to need young leadership and young energy. If you want your program to make a bigger impact, then you need young leaders and young energy.
It’s time to build relationships. It’s time to the Naomi to your church’s Ruths.
Huh? What? That’s right. It’s time to form a relationship with a young woman in your church that is similar to the relationship Naomi had with Ruth.
The story of Ruth is one of the greatest romance stories in the Bible, and many millennial women of faith have adopted the idea to “wait for their Boaz.” But the truly inspirational relationship that is often overlooked in this story is the relationship between Ruth and Naomi.
Naomi was Ruth’s mother-in-law, but if you read the story, you’ll realize they didn’t have a typical mother-daughter relationship. In fact, their relationship was that more of trusted friends than maternal.
“Be the Naomi to your church’s Ruths”
In Chapter 1, Naomi suffers the great losses of her husband and her two sons. She is so distraught that she insists on being called Mara instead of Naomi because Mara means bitter. Because she is a widow, she plans to return to Bethlehem to be taken care of. She insists that her daughters-in-law go back to their own mothers, but Ruth refuses to leave her. By going with Naomi, Ruth shows great support in Naomi’s moment of loss. By leaving for Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth is leaving behind her family, her culture, and her religion. Her commitment to Naomi is shown in Ruth 1:16-17.
Obviously Naomi had made quite an impression on Ruth. But later, in chapter 2, Naomi excitedly discusses Ruth’s interaction with Boaz similar to the giddy gossip teenage girls exchange when one of them meets a new boy. In chapter 3, it is Naomi who insist that she must find a husband for Ruth and gives Ruth advice on how to get Boaz to court her.
Now I’m not saying you need to get on social media and learn the coolest trends of the day so you can randomly ask the teenage girls of your church if she’s talking to any certain boy right now. What I am saying is to strive to build a relationship with these young women. Specifically, strive to form a deep friendship with these girls.
“But with Naomi and Ruth, we see two women of great age differences who both benefit from a deep friendship.”
I’ll be honest, it’s hard to think about being friends with an older woman who could be my mother or my grandmother. In my mind, just because of your age I see you as an authority figure in some respect. But with Naomi and Ruth, we see two woman of great age differences who both benefit from a deep friendship.
It’s true that millennials won’t participate in something if they don’t want to, but they might if they are invited by a friend. Don’t intend to be a mentor. Don’t start with the invitation for these girls to come to you. Go to them. Form friendships. Learn about their likes and dislikes.Meet them where they are.
Just like Paul, I’ll leave you with a final greeting. Thank you for your efforts in missions. Thank you for advocating for missionaries. Thank you for leading community mission efforts. I pray that you will seek God’s guidance in your effort to reach out to your younger congregation members.
May God’s peace be with you!
— A Ruth in Your Congregation