Giggle, gab and grow

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Omaha congregation freshens up women’s ministry

by Malinda Just

“When was the last time you gave yourself permission to relax, giggle and gab with girlfriends?” asks Tami Classen, connecting director and director of women’s ministry at Shadow Lake Community Church (SLCC) of the greater Omaha, Neb., area. In a world of overbooked schedules, the need for having fun and connecting with friends is often overlooked. That is where the women’s ministry, Girlfriends Unlimited, at SLCC steps in.

“We are passionate about women,” Classen says. “We want women to giggle again and again like the little girls we are inside. We want women to unwind and relax. We want women to experience a safe place. Girlfriends Unlimited is about sharing the love of Christ with every woman we come in contact with.”

The group, now in its fourth year, was formed “to help develop a new, fresh vision and direction for women’s ministry that would reach and minister to women—both young and old ages as well as seasoned and starters in their faith,” Classen says.

Believing that if you “befriend women so they feel they belong, then they will be open to hear what we believe which will open their hearts to become someone different—a follower of Jesus,” Girlfriends Unlimited is divided into several “B” components.

Befriend

Falling under the “befriend” category, Classen says “big-event” activities are planned for women to relax, laugh and talk. Last April, SLCC hosted an overnight retreat for over 100 women with the theme, “Clearing Your Clutter.”

“We piggybacked with the Open Door Mission to take and put to use our clutter,” Classen says. “They brought a truck that they parked in our parking lot Sunday mornings as we asked everyone to ‘Fill the Truck’ by clearing your clutter.”

In November, 85 women attended an overnight weekend focusing on “Walking by Faith—Different Shoes for Different Seasons.”

“Girlfriends Unlimited is where we energize women through vivacious gatherings and experiences,” Classen says. “It’s silly, significant and totally surprising.”

Belong

A year ago, the SLCC women’s ministry added “G! Groups” to enhance the belong component. G! Groups, or interest groups, is a format used by a worldwide women’s ministry, Girlfriends Unlimited; therefore the SLCC women’s ministry began using the same name.

“I saw the potential and format of the G! Groups as I was trying to figure how to incorporate social/connecting/interest groups and keep them low maintenance and not programmed,” Classen says. “That was the missing piece for our Girlfriends Ministry at SLCC after four years and a huge answer to prayer.”

G! Groups meet in smaller settings and are designed to promote fun, connections and friendships among women with similar interests, Classen says. The groups include Flick Chicks who watch movies together, Book-it Babes who read one book per month and Scrappin’ Sisters, a group of creative women.

Belief and become

The last two components of Girlfriends Unlimited focus on helping women grow in their faith.

G! Studies are eight to 12 week Bible-study sessions offered for women of all ages. The small groups meet either Tuesday mornings or evenings, and each group studies the same material “to keep everyone united,” Classen says. This is the belief component.

“Become” is a servant-leadership team of seven women, including Classen. “These gals fulfill responsibilities, give guidance and direction and bring our Girlfriend Ministry full circle,” Classen says. “They work under my supervision and find and form ‘DO’ Teams for our events.”

In addition to the “B” components, Classen attributes the success of Girlfriends Unlimited to a group of eight women called Heart Whisperers. The Heart Whisperers are faithful prayer warriors who pray for each event of the women’s ministry.

“We all work together, unified with one purpose and plan, to bring glory to our Savior,” Classen says.

Above all, Classen says, Girlfriends Unlimited loves women.

“I am very protective of the DNA we create in our Girlfriends Ministry,” she says. “It must be full and overflowing with love and grace and acceptance of women, just as our Savior is to each of us no matter what season or stage.”

That vision and purpose helps the group stay unified without getting “too broad in ministry,’ says Classen. “We consistently remind ourselves that we will never be able to meet every woman’s need—that is the Holy Spirit’s job.” 

She says, “Our job is to create atmospheres and experiences to allow the Holy Spirit to work and speak to women’s hearts and pray for them to grow in the depth of God’s love and grace and mercy in their own heart and life.”

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