Women’s Discipleship and the Mommy Blogosphere
Confession: Even thought I’m a SAHM, I don’t read many mommy blogs. Most of my exposure comes through social media when friends share articles and craft projects. Despite my distance, I do have a proper awe for its power. It is so powerful that it can sell books, purses, essential oils, jewelry, and nail wraps in a few simple keystrokes. It is so powerful that is has propelled SAHMs to stardom and financial success. In 2014, it even inspired a feature-length movie.
What I’m beginning to realize is that church leaders may not be equally aware of its power. Two weeks ago, conservative uber-blogger Tim Challies asked readers why a piece he had written, “Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers” went viral. He seemed surprised that it was his most shared post and was still garnering attention even months later.
All I could think was, “Welcome to the mommy blogosphere, Tim.”
The influence of this niche demographic presents an interesting challenge for those involved with women’s discipleship. Statistically, women make up over 60% of church attendees, but given the fact that (especially in conservative denominations) church leadership is overwhelmingly male, there’s the real probability that church leaders might underestimate its influence on their congregations. Books, church services, and organized women’s ministry are probably not the primary forces shaping the young mothers in your church. Because of this, there are some things that leaders need to understand about the mommy blogosphere:
1. How Women Share Ideas
Do you remember the old joke about how women go to the bathroom in groups? It’s funny because it pinpoints something that we observe to be true: women are more group-oriented than men. Sociological studies predict that women will make moral choices based on relationship while men will tend to make them based on regulation. (The book Preaching That Speaks to Women by Alice P. Matthews includes a chapter entitled “Preaching for Moral Decision-Making” that nicely summarizes relevant research.)
As a general rule, ideas circulate differently among women than they do among men. Women encounter and embrace new ideas through their social networks, both virtual and physical; they are also more likely to share ideas the same way. The conversations that happen at play group or in the comment section of their blogging communities are just as real and just as influential as the conversations a pastor will have with his staff or formal mentoring group. This means that Christian women are more likely to encounter problematic teaching through their online homeschool group than by reading Rob Bell’s latest offering. And given their season of life, it’s also more likely to be offered to them in the form of “parenting tips” instead of in an obvious theological package.