I’ve been involved in some form of women’s ministry for more than 30 years. The culture of women’s ministry and women in ministry looks much differently than it did when I was in my early 20s. That’s probably a good thing. Ministries evolve and change to adapt to culture and those who lead. This year will be a new year for women in the local church. Will traditional women’s ministry die in 2016? How will it look differently than it did last year or five years ago? What are some things churches can do to minister to women in 2016? Let’s take a quick look at some predictions and trends I’m currently observing.

Women will take more leadership roles within the church and their role will be expanded. No longer are women just being considered for staff positions that include the word “woman” or “children” in the title. (By the way – those aren’t bad things. We desperately need women leading children and women.) They are being included in various positions such as group pastor, missions pastor, business administrator and even teaching pastor. (I’m seeing this mostly as a rotating teacher in larger churches that aren’t in the south) Why? Women have more theological training, more ministry experience and they know how to multi-task. Women are being valued for their perspective and contribution to the overall church community. I don’t see a trend for women assuming the role of lead pastor, especially in Southern Baptist churches. I don’t even see many women clamoring for this position. Most women I know just want to follow the calling God has placed on their heart and those roles are constantly evolving. The result? Women expect quality Bible teaching that is doctrinally sound. I’m constantly challenged to make sure speakers aren’t just storytellers, but women who can correctly handle scripture and engage their audience.

Women will continue to spread the Gospel through the avenue of social media. Follow Christian women on their social media networks and you’ll find they are quick to share a verse of the day or issues they want promoted. They are quick to jump on the bandwagon that connects them to a wider Internet community. Women are relational—even if the relationship exists over the internet. In addition to spreading the Gospel, watch this happen in the political arena this year. It will have a big impact on how women vote.

Women will continue to lead in entrepreneurial opportunities that allow them to engage in missional causes. Men may not understand this, but women totally get this: they like to make money on their terms but they do it in order to fight social injustice. Women get extremely creative about making money that exists for the sole purpose of adoptions, human trafficking, water wells and local poverty. They want the flexibility of raising a family and making significant contributions both to their home and to the world.

Women want diverse intellectual stimulation and relational community. Here’s another aspect many men just don’t get. On one hand, women want serious Bible study. On the other, they want to play. Whether that’s cooking, crafting or rock climbing, women want to connect with one another through conversation and mutual experiences. To offer both is not a contradiction. In addition, women want shared connections with peers and with mentors. The church must respond by providing ways for generations to connect with each other while also offering ways to connect in smaller groups with peers.These are just a few observations for 2016. What changes are you predicting for the future of women in the local church? How is your church responding?