HOW DO YOU INCREASE MEMBERSHIP in your women’s group or congregational unit? As you begin to think about answering this question, know that your outreach plan must be broad, creative, and bold. Your commitment and strategy should be intentional to move Women of the ELCA’s purpose and mission forward.
The Women of the ELCA leadership event held in February—Pivot Don’t Panic!—included a Bible study, the Rev. Dr. Wyvetta Bullock, executive assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop. She offered a toolbox for pivoting that included purpose, prayer, praise, and plan.
I want to emphasize three items that can be part of your pivot and plan for membership. They are increasing membership, mentorship, and sharing benefits and opportunities in community.
Membership starts with us. The first step is becoming familiar with our programs, publications, and resources. Women of the ELCA staff are also here to support you and suggest helpful programs as you plan for ministry in your region. We offer many resources under the Membership and Tools for Leaders tabs on our website.
Consider using the downloadable PowerPoint A Place for You, available in English and Spanish. A Place for You is often used as an outreach tool and can help start the conversation about getting involved. At the end of the PowerPoint, you can add your own ministry information. Your personalized information might help women create an active unit in their congregation, special unit, or on a college campus. (You’ll find the PowerPoint here. Scroll down until you see it.)
Find information on what makes an active unit and how to apply as a special unit here on our website. (Special units can organize and meet outside of a traditional congregation.)
Your invitation for women to take part in Women of the ELCA should include reaching out to all generations. That invitation can include pastors, seminary students, young, new, and diverse women. You can do this using Zoom, group chats, or webinars. Any way you can get the word out can be a part of your plan.
Mentorship means building relationships. Invite, support, and encourage women to experience a retreat or event. Follow up after the event and listen to new voices and learn about the needs in your community.
This can give you new perspectives and provide you with ideas you might not have thought about. Implement several of the new ideas. Everyone can take part in building community. When you share and listen, you build relationships that can increase participation in the organization.
Sharing benefits and opportunities
We encourage you to share the benefits of the organization with women and partners in your Synodical Women’s Organization and community. Your support for and participation in the organization is critical. Continue to mentor the next generation and the women you know who are looking for a bold community with purpose.
Sharing benefits and opportunities to learn more about the organization is a part of the plan to pivot and increase participation. What bold steps will you take to increase membership?
Eva James Yeo is director for membership for Women of the ELCA. Contact her for more information or suggestions.
Feature photo by Jim Veneman: At the Tenth Triennial Gathering, Kimberly Bryant, Indianapolis, Ind., St. Stevens, Chicago, teaches Samara Marquez, 9, Beloit, Wisc., how to bead.