How are you staying connected with your women’s ministry group during these days of quarantine? This pandemic has caused my community to get creative with how it reaches its current members, and how it welcomes new participants.
Over the last few weeks, our women’s group has continued our usual schedule of weekly Bible study meetings in a digital format. But honestly, our women are overwhelmed. We’re elbow deep in homeschool, dishes, working from home, and stress. As the weeks go on, fewer and fewer women are attending, and last week, we had only four women present. What’s more none of the attendees had actually completed the reading – not even the facilitators! And that’s OK.
If this is happening in your group, you might feel discouraged, but please don’t! These women who show up unprepared are being honest and communicating their immediate needs. They need a break from home and homework, and just want to connect, socialize, and be encouraged. They don’t have time or the mental energy to do homework. So let’s take the homework out of it from time to time!
That’s where fellowship through a Virtual Ladies’ Night In is a great way to help your group remain connected without adding additional to-dos or preparations. This is also a very easy way to welcome new people. Here are some steps to get started on your virtual ladies’ night in:
- Make the invitation. Make a broad invitation to your community inviting people to the event, using email, word of mouth, and social media. If there will be a theme or activity, share that. If the ladies will need supplies, make sure to post that information in advance.
- Select a platform. Use a reliable platform like Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams to invite your community into a closed gathering online. Use a password or waiting room to keep your meeting secure.
- Communicate the start and end time. Publish a start and end time for your ladies’ night. I recommend about 1.5 to 2 hours. This gives you time to settle in, but it’s still short enough so that people can work it into their busy days. If you’re having a great time, you can keep the party going, but a published end time allows people an opportunity to sign off without feeling awkward.
- Introductions. Make time for introductions so that new people feel welcomed and comfortable and so that people who have not participated in a while feel included.
- What to do? Facilitate an activity. While conversation is essential to your gathering, it’s nice to have an activity as well. The activity could be as simple as a few icebreakers, or as complex as a cooking class.
- Door prizes! If you have a game or friendly competition, think of delivering a door prize to the winner’s house or dropping a prize in the mail.
- Thank you. Thank people for attending and encourage them to bring a friend to your next gathering.
- Renew the invitation. If possible, let participants know when your next gathering will be. This is a great opportunity to publicize other parish opportunities, such as virtual or parking lot Mass, drive-by confession, or Bible study opportunities.
- Build curiosity. Take a screenshot or a few pictures during the event and post them online for your community to see. This will help generate curiosity for people who were not able to attend. If you made a craft or cooked something together, share some pictures of your masterpieces on social media.
- Connect with new people after the event. If new ladies join the gathering, be sure to reach out to them personally afterward to welcome them to the community.
- Keep it light. We have enough stress. Keep things fun. Steer the conversation away from hot button issues or negativity. If the conversation starts to skew negative, ask each person to share one positive things from the week.
- Recruit a new host. A ladies’ night is a great way to invite people to step up and offer their gifts to lead an event. Often, people just need to be asked to take on a more active role in a ministry. Encourage a pair of participants to co-host the next ladies’ night, so that you can relax and enjoy.
Ladies’ Night is is all about fun and fellowship. Feel free to adjust this framework above to meet your community’s needs and interests. What’s your community doing to stay connected?