on Thursday, September 12, 2019

In this season of life, I find myself in the middle. With 5 generations represented now in ministry to women (Builders, Boomers, Gen X, Millennials or Gen Y, and Gen Z), those of us in the Gen X range find ourselves in between. Born in 1980, not only am I in the middle, I am in the middle of the middle generation. Once included with Generation X or Generation Y (depending on whose research you studied), those of us born between roughly 1977-1985 are now considered by some researchers to be Xennials because we are in between the generations.[1] We are literally in between the in between. 

Essentially though, Gen Xers are your late 30s-mid 50s crowd in the church. We are in the mid-season of life right now, and while a smaller group than our Boomer and Millennial sisters[2], we have strategic potential for ministry leadership in the church. Here are three important considerations for developing leaders among women in the mid-season:

1) Gen X women serve a strategic role in bridging the generations

As women in the middle, we understand the women who are our mothers and grandmothers, but we also understand the younger women who are coming behind us. My grandmother is part of the Builder generation, my mom is a Boomer, I teach many Millennials, and my children belong to Generation Z. So, while I may do things differently than all of them, I understand each generation.

Gen X women can promote the “unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3, CSB) in the church by helping all of the generations see the common bond we have in Christ. We can bring the generations together and offer important insights into the various age groups. Invite these ladies to be a part of your ministry teams. Ask them what ideas they have for bringing together the different generations in the church. Then give them opportunities to implement those ideas.

2) Gen X women serve a strategic role in mentoring

Women in the mid-season can appreciate traditions of the past but are not afraid to embrace ministry opportunities of the future. We understand why phone calls and card-writing are important to our senior generation because we can remember a childhood without cell phones and internet when people actually called on a land line or sent actual mail. We also see the value of text messaging and social media as new opportunities for connecting with one another. We get that even social media use depends on the generation as Boomers and Gen Xers prefer Facebook, while Millennials and Gen Z prefer Instagram and Snapchat.[3] Yet we tend to use all of it to stay connected with our friends and our kids! In bringing generations together, we can help merge ministry methods while showing appreciation for them all. 

In terms of mentoring, we have strategic opportunities right now as we are still learning from those who are ahead of us, but we have plenty of young women to invest in who are coming behind us. Get to know these women in your church. Show them how they can teach the next generation while continuing to learn from the generations before them.

3) Gen X women serve a strategic role in creative service 

The good news is that Gen X women have incredible potential for helping to merge the generations in the church. The not so good news is that they are in the mid-season of life, which means they are incredibly busy. Between demanding careers, keeping up with full family schedules, and possibly even caring for parents, women in the mid-season are spinning a lot of plates. Whether they serve currently in leadership roles or not, here are a few ideas for reaching out and serving them as you develop their leadership potential: 

a) Offer to help

Most busy women will not turn down an offer of help. While our culture tells us that we should be superwomen, those of us who are living that dream know that it’s a lie! We can’t do all, be all, and have it all. It’s just not realistic. You can serve women in big and   small ways by just noticing their needs and offering to help in any way that you can. Ask them what their needs are and let them dream of creative ways to serve women in their season. They will be grateful, and the Lord may open up new doors for ministry!

b) Value their time

Time is a valuable commodity these days. We only get so much of it, and once gone we can’t get it back. For women in busy seasons of life, time matters. Women want to know that if they are going to spend time on something, it is a valuable investment. You can help them to see how ministry involvement may be a sacrifice of their time, but it is also the best use of time. To really gain the abundant life that we all desire, we have to lose our lives first (Luke 9:24). That also means losing our free time (if there is such a thing at this point in life!) because ministry is not often comfortable or quick and easy. Then   honor their time while they are serving. Begin and end leadership meetings and events on time. Prepare them well for ministry involvement to maximize the time they have to offer. 

c) Be creative in how you involve them

If time is an issue, then help women think outside the box of how they can be involved. Rather than adding one more thing for women to do, help them find ways to minister through what they are already doing. Show them how they can be a missionary to their child’s sports team or workplace. Encourage them to have casual gatherings for moms in their homes or on the local playground. If technology allows, let them join a leadership meeting from their computers. Find things they can do to prep for gatherings while they are home or out running errands with their children. Let them promote ministry opportunities on social media while waiting in the carpool line or taking a break from work. 

Women in the mid-season of life are busy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are uninterested in involvement. They just may not be sure how they can serve. Help them to see the ministry opportunities that abound in their current season of life.   

Being in the middle is just a season. Right now, it’s my season. But one day I will move on to the older age season of life, and younger women now will find themselves in the middle. Women in the mid-season of life will always have great potential for ministry to generations before and behind them. So the question is, how can your church capture the potential for ministry leadership among women in the middle?  


Emily Dean is director of women's academic programs and organizations at NOBTS.



                  [1] Marleen Van de Camp, “Between Generation X and the Millennials: There is a Term for People Born in the Early 80s,” Business Insider Deutschland, March 11, 2017, https://www.businessinsider.de/generation-x-millennials-xennials-2017-11?IR=T.

                  [2] Paul Taylor and George Gao, “Generation X: America’s Neglected ‘Middle Child’,” Pew Research Center, June 5, 2014, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/06/05/generation-x-americas-neglected-middle-child.

                  [3] Andrew Perrin and Monica Anderson, “Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018,” Pew Research Center, April 10, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/10/share-of-u-s-adults-using-social-media-including-facebook-is-mostly-unchanged-since-2018.