I received many interesting emails in response to last month’s topic, “BFF’s in the Church Pews.” This month I’d like to elaborate just a bit. (Scroll down to the July post if you’ve not yet read this article.)
I think the majority of you understood the three categories of friends I proposed. One reader shared that her Bible study teacher referred to these as Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas relationships. Another pointed out the fact that Jesus had twelve disciples but three of those comprised His inner circle. Both of these comparisons capture the spirit of how people in our lives fill a certain need where friendships are concerned.
My approach to this subject is from the viewpoint of a ministry wife’s ability to have healthy friendships within her church. While many of our girlfriends can be categorized in the areas I’ve described (with some filling more than one of these roles), there are yet many more women within the pews with whom we’ve not made this type of connection. One email I received said, “I don’t really fit into any of these areas so I guess I’ll just pray for my minister’s wife from afar.” NO, NO, NO! Afar will never do!
When ‘No’ Is Not a Good Thing
Perhaps one of the most disturbing trends I’ve witnessed where ministry wives are concerned is the withdrawing from women’s groups in the interest of protecting family time. I read an article recently by a high-profile pastor’s wife who stated, “I never attend women’s ministry events because they are just too time-consuming.”
Sister, I think I would have kept that to myself.
Bravo for learning to say ‘no’, but I’m not certain isolating one’s self from the masses will achieve the desired end. However, if you are trying to convince the women of your church they are not a priority to you, then blowing off all their gatherings should do the trick. I’m not saying you have to attend every event, but a prayer group here and a dinner there will do much more good than harm. You might even find some BFF’s in the process.
Many pastor’s wives have a ‘thing’. My ‘thing’ has been to organize an annual women’s retreat where we have three days of intensive Bible study and shopping in the Tennessee Mountains. Each year our group comes home with a renewed sense of sisterhood and yet within two months, we are back to business as usual. This year, a girl in our congregation stepped up to breathe fresh life into our otherwise tired women’s ministry so the fruit born from our retreat does not wither away.
I have to admit that when this group started I wondered how I was going to fit it in to an already busy schedule, but something told me this was something that had a bigger impact than I could anticipate.
Making the Connection
As a ministry wife I feel it is part of my role to support any effort made from within the body to provide an outlet for belonging. It is extremely hard to bond without spending time with one another outside of the Sunday morning hour. It hurts me to think there are women in our pews who feel friendship within the Body has eluded them. Sometimes, church can be as lonely for parishioners as it is for the pastor’s wife.
Enter women’s ministry.
Our group meets once a month and travels from home to home. We eat together. Pray together. Laugh and cry together. And in the midst of it, we’ve become friends. There is a diversity of age and issues, but underneath is our commonality in Christ – and that’s all we need. Here there is no category, but a group of women standing shoulder-to-shoulder resolving that no one will ever feel alone. Every single one of these women are dear to me. I can’t imagine now how I’ve survived so long without meeting regularly with them.
That, girls, is what friendship is all about. Ministry wives, be open to having many friends within your congregation. Lay people, reach out to your pastor’s wife until she figures out it’s safe to reach back. You will make a connection – one that will transcend the confines of the pew.
Thank all of you for so many thought-provoking insights. Please keep your questions coming! In the meantime, I’d love for you to visit my personal blog:
The Preacher’s Wife.