Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Have you broken any? Whether you made any or not (or you’ve already blown it by eating that last piece of Christmas fudge), January is a good time to think about starting something new. It’s also a good time to contemplate the future, even though predictions can be as unreliable as an Oklahoma meteorologist.

Even so, here are a few trends I’m predicting that will affect your women’s ministry in the future:

1. Women’s ministry is going to get messier. What does that mean? It means ministry isn’t going to be all about the centerpiece and deciding what food to prepare. Women want authenticity. They have big problems and are dealing with stressful life issues, such as raising grandchildren, unfaithful spouses, addictions and critical health concerns. Women will need other women who will listen and give spiritual direction from God’s word–not just a “feel good” answer from a speaker who comes to your church for 30 minutes and is gone the next. How can you be prepared? Learn how to be a good listener. Show compassion and forgiveness. Learn how to deal with people in crisis and have a list of “connectors”–women who have already walked the same road and can offer support. For instance, how do you minister to a woman who is addicted to pornography? What resources will you have? Who can connect with her? How will you equip women to not just serve the “saved”, but serve the “struggling”?

2. Women’s ministry is getting “smaller”. Please don’t be discouraged if your events aren’t drawing a huge crowd. That’s not a bad thing. Women want relationships that can only be found in small community groups. Consider how 5-10 women can connect–not 100. And if you have 100 women, how will you divide them into smaller groups? I predict women’s ministry will become more affinity based as well–groups with a common thread or interest, such as women who are all empty-nesters or moms of small children.

3. Bible studies are going to look different. Women are tired of “fill in the blanks” and watching videos–especially the emerging generation of women. They would rather sit around a kitchen table or meet at a coffee shop, open up God’s word and struggle through a passage. The caution is you must have a leader who has Biblical knowledge and maturity. You can dissect a passage together, but have sound doctrine as your basis. Consider using a Bible study based on a book of the Bible or pair the Bible with a book that offers solid questions at the end of each chapter.

4. We will get rid of the word mentoring but not get rid of mentoring. Over and over again, I hear younger women cry out for the need to learn from older and wiser women. While we have become used to the word “mentor”, what we really need are women who are “disciple-makers.” What does this look like? It means developing intentional relationships with other women. Meet a younger woman for coffee or lunch. Invite her to go shopping or run errands with you. Pay her way to attend a conference with you. It can even be as simple as a text message! Show an interest in a younger woman and encourage her by living out God’s word, treating others with respect and serving with a grateful attitude.

5. Communication and technology will continue to evolve much faster than we’d like. In the past year, our office has started using Pinterest and Instagram–two social networking tools that are exploding. Does this mean we have abandoned the old forms of communication? Not at all. It just means we have to look for new ways to communicate. How do women find out about your ministry? Which of the following do you use–mail, email, phone calls, mass text messaging, church website, blog, bulletin board, bulletin announcements, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram? Decide to adopt at least one new form of communication this year, but be warned–something “new” is just around the corner.

These are just a few of my predictions. What changes are you forecasting for 2013?