We were hanging out with the Allies recently when Lauren raised an interesting point: we’ve seen many more girls leave fellowship than guys. As we listed the cases, it became clear that her observation was accurate. “Why is that?” we all wondered, and came to a quick conclusion that bad boyfriends was the common factor. This seemed true, but I felt compelled to ponder the question more because I’ve lost many female friends in ministry, and I want to better understand what draws them away from the Body of Christ. And I’m going to minister to women for the rest of my life, so I should probably seek to better understand this female-drop-out phenomenon. My goal is not to analyze non-believing women who came to meetings but never came to Christ. I’m considering those who were believers (as far as anyone could tell), were part of our fellowship, and then left for good.
First, a brief history: Lauren recalled a time before I knew her, when she lived in the ministry house with Diana. Those two are the only remaining members. Four others left before I came to the KSU Bible study. Lauren and Diana are also the only girls who came out of the Bedford high school ministry into college.
Women were vastly outnumbered at the college Bible study I attended my freshman year. A number of girls came in and out of our women’s group that year. Those who remain are Diana, Lauren, Melanie, and me. At least six others faded away.
Next year brought more stability to the women’s side as Jen, Sara, and Leah Z. joined us. Melanie moved to Columbus but was in fellowship there. I may be forgetting those who drifted in and out, but this is when we started to see our women’s ministry grow, and experienced fewer losses. The following year saw even great growth as Amy, Nicole, Kathryn, Sarah D., and Kay joined. Melanie returned. Again, I’m probably forgetting some. But we successfully split cells and then home churches.
Since then many women have joined us and we’re more in danger of being a chickified church than the testosterone-dominated scene of Lake and College St. days. But we’ve also lost Sarah D. , Lisa, Carey, Kay, Jen, and Yana. And several more in the other home church. This problem is evident in the high school ministry as well. None of the girls I worked with two years ago were still around when I
rejoined the ministry this summer. And our girls ministry charts have changed significantly since July.
On the guys’ side, I can think of six losses from the KSU home church. I’m sure there are others, but certainly the body count is much lower.
So why do girls purl? After examining this case-by-case, unhealthy romantic relationships seem to be the most common reason. Variations include immorality, unequal yoking, or break-ups with in-fellowship guys. Several suffered from emotional problems, such as eating disorders, major depression, and bipolar disorder. Many sold out to worldly values and choose school, career, and materialism over healthy relationships. Girls seem more likely to be overly-concerned about their college G.P.A. Cultural factors like divorce, dysfunctional families, body image pressures, and increased incidence of psychological problems surely play a role. And perhaps women come in with more baggage then men—more unhealthy friendships and family and dating relationships, more emotional instability, and less self-worth. This means they desperately need Christ, but it makes it harder for them to follow Him as true disciples.
There is no easy answer to why girls purl. Perhaps it’s tied to the age-old questions of “what women want.” But I don’t want to see more women sell their souls to immoral men and the world system. I don’t want to lose more dear friends to these harmful forces. Perhaps we need to take more care to ground women in the Word so they can learn what real love looks like. Some ideas to try to fight this problem:
1. Study Spiritual Relationships that Last.
2. Teach identity in Christ and its implications.
3. Study and practice love ethics material—this is crucial!
4. Be willing to confront unbiblical values early on.
Any other thoughts or suggestions?