Friday, September 20, 2013

Service or self-serving?

This must just be my day for mini rants. I just can't help myself.

I've long contended that church women's groups are run for the benefit of whatever clique/caste/stage of life group happens to be represented on the board, not for the female population of the congregation in general.

Bear in mind that I've served on some of those boards, and I know whereof I speak.

As a case in point, let's discuss the staple of autumn activities for most women's groups - the Fall Retreat.

Among the stated goals of most retreats is to give women a chance to unwind and get to know one another in an atmosphere far removed from the rush of everyday. Keep that in mind as we look at typical retreat timing:

Registration begins at 5 p.m. Friday.

The first General Session begins at 7 p.m. Friday.

The retreat center at which this is all held is a two hour and fifteen minute drive from the church.

Does anyone other than me see the issue? I can see three possible scenarios arising from this schedule, at least for the large percentage of women who work traditional Monday - Friday hours.

1. She takes a half day of vacation so she can drive up to the retreat in time to register, drop the bags in the room and make it to the general session on time and relaxed. She will need to stop for dinner on the way to the retreat. Vacation time is limited and therefore precious, but what the hey, why not?

2. She leaves for the retreat directly from work, realizing that unless she is fortunate enough to get out of work as early as I do (3:30), she will have to run through a drive through to pick up a dinner to eat while driving, yet will still arrive bare seconds before the first session starts (if she is lucky). She'll have to hunt down the registration person after the evening's main events end (most likely 10 p.m. or later) and go out to get the bags in the dark.

3. She has to go home and feed the kids/husband after work, or take the kids to whoever is doing childcare for the weekend. This puts her in a position that gives her no hope of arriving before the general session starts. Walking in late and trying to find a seat is always such a pleasant experience. Rest of the night goes as it does for woman #2.

So much for being removed from the rush of everyday (note that my current church is even worse at this, if that is possible - the retreat begins at seven (two hours away) and ends at noon the next day; my driving time is more than the total time I'd spend awake at the retreat).

Not everyone is like you; make the effort to think of those who you profess to serve.


Joy Foucault said...

Amen! All reasons why I haven't been to a women's retreat since I was about 24. Here! Here!

melissa said...

You summed it well. Uh, does this mean you won't be going? :P

Francesca Watson said...

Yeah, I seem to be fundamentally incapable of investing in those things. The whole clique thing makes me itchy, and let's face it: women can be BRUTAL with one another. I seem to be getting more introverted as I get older!

Diane said...

Melissa - this isn't even my (current) church's retreat, but that of the church I used to go to about eight years ago. No, I won't be going :)

Francesca - I've always preferred the company of men for just that reason. I like women individually, but get them in a group of more than three, and you need to watch yourself.