Baptist Women in Ministry launched a survey because we want to hear from YOU! Take our survey to share your experiences, so we can discover the state of women in Baptist life as women pursue their calls to ministry.
I saw a commercial the other day where a little girl finds a purple flower growing out of a crack in the concrete sidewalk. She and her dad water the flower, cover it with a cup for protection, and eventually transplant the flower to the welcoming soil of a nearby park behind a bench. Fast-forward several years, and the same dad meets his now adult daughter in the same park. As they sit on the same park bench, the viewer can see an entire garden of purple flowers blooming behind them. The once lone, struggling flower multiplied and was able to thrive in its new welcoming environment.
If you’ve ever had a job in ministry—particularly if you’ve had more than one—you know that the hospitality and health of your ministry environment can greatly affect the way you are able to grow and thrive in your position. As BWIM continues to advocate for individual women and the advancement of equality and equity for all, we recognize that women’s ability to serve and thrive is often influenced in both positive and negative ways by their contexts. In light of this reality, BWIM wants to discover the ways women are flourishing in their ministry settings and the ways women are fighting to grow through the concrete cracks.
We want to hear your experiences and perspective as you serve or are preparing to serve in ministry. For the BWIM staff, questions about how women are doing in their ministry settings bubbled up as we began the process of researching and creating the upcoming State of Women in Baptist Life Report. This report tracks important trends of women serving in ministry positions and preparing for ministry within various Baptist denominational groups.
The first State of Women in Baptist Life Report was written in 2005, with subsequent reports created in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2015. Each report indicates the state of Baptist women who are in ministry at a current moment in time by presenting statistics and stories. Rachel Gunter Shapard, one of the co-creators of the 2005 report, puts it this way: “The report offers clarity and insight into the progress women have made in Baptist life, and it also demonstrates how far women still have to go.”
The reports encourage and challenge us to continue transforming the idea of women in ministry into a reality. Like the previous reports, the upcoming one will present statistics on women in various ministry positions and track the level of growth or decline since the 2015 report. In addition, the 2021 report will shed light on the experiences and perspective of women who grow in all types of ministry environments. And it will encourage and challenge us to cultivate ministry settings where the support and empowerment of women is a reality rather than merely a concept.
To do so, we need your help! BWIM created a survey and we want to hear from YOU. We invite Baptist women in all positions of congregational and non-congregational ministry to take the survey. You will be asked questions about your experiences in ministry and your perspective of your congregations’ openness to the ministry of women. If you are not a woman in ministry, we still want you to take the survey. You will be directed to a shorter version of the survey with questions on the culture of your congregation as it relates to women in ministry.
I’m sure you’ve heard the idiom, “Bloom where you are planted.” It’s a nice idea that encourages people to flourish regardless of their setting. Women have been doing this for decades as they live out their God-given call to ministry in all kinds of welcoming and resistant environments. However, many of us have the power to influence the “where,” or the location in which people are planted. Many of us have the capability to foster healthy and hospitable places for people to thrive. For those of us with this kind of privilege, perhaps a new idiom should be: “Create environments where people can bloom.”
Together, as we begin the work of crafting such environments, we hope you consider taking our survey, which will take less than 10 minutes to complete.
Laura Ellis is the project manager at Baptist Women in Ministry.