Busy Work for Church Ladies

I was a deaconess once.  These were my duties:

  1. Prepare the juice and wafers for communion.
  2. Pray for the needs of the church.
  3. Help with baptisms.
  4. Organize meals.  I was put in charge of this one.  The other deaconesses said it was because I like to cook, but I soon figured out that it was because none of them wanted to do it. I wouldn’t have minded, except it was like pulling teeth to get people to sign up.  I even employed the use of a website – Take Them A Meal – to streamline the process.  But that kind of new-fangled technology was too much for that dyed-in-the-wool congregation. They could not let go of their beloved sign-up sheet.  Which no one signed.  And I think I know why.

When my daughter was in college, she was asked to prepare and deliver a meal to the pastor of her young adult group and his wife.  They were adopting a baby.  A sign-up sheet went around for two weeks worth of meals.  Two weeks worth of meals. For an adoption.  No childbirth or c-section from which to recover.  My daughter, being a college student, had neither the time nor the money to prepare and deliver a meal.  But she did it because, as a small group leader, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Here’s why it is all so wrong:

It is unnecessary.

Back when church ladies first started organizing meals, they did so out of actual need. Back then men worked in the fields all day.  Women made everything from scratch, right down to grinding their own flour.  Meal prep took all day.

It takes me several hours to make dinner from scratch so I know.

A woman who was sick or recovering from surgery or childbirth needed meals brought to her because, after working hard in the fields all day, it was too much for her hungry husband to then spend four hours in the kitchen preparing dinner.  So a casserole from the neighbor was a God send.

But now-a-days a husband passes a plethora of grocery stores on his way home from work, each one offering high quality, nutritious prepared foods, making getting dinner on the table pretty darn easy.  (To those living in remote areas with no high-end markets with large prepared food sections, I apologize.  You do need meals brought to you.  And I’ll bet your sign up sheets fill in fast.)

For the urban and suburban among us, we church ladies have got to stop treating husbands like they are helpless.   They CAN do it.  They CAN get dinner on the table. Working wives do it all the time.  Which brings me to #2.

 It inhibits bonding.

Oxytocin is a bonding chemical.  It is released in our brains during sex, childbirth, nursing and caring for one another.  It is God’s genius design for bonding families.  Recent studies show that men who engage in the hands-on care of their children have a stronger bond with them than men who don’t.

Back when my mom was having babies (seven of them), women spent a few days in the hospital.  And while my mom was in the hospital, my dad was in charge of dinner.  Him making dinner was a big deal, a special memory.  It cast a whole new light on him.  A wonderful, memorable light.

In our effort to bond with the other women in our church families, we church ladies rob men of the opportunity to form a deeper bond with their nuclear families.  And that right there is the #1 reason I refuse to participate in this antiquated tradition.  Besides…

It causes burnout.

When legitimate needs for meals arise we are too burned out and/or financially depleted to sign the stinkin’ sheet.   So we wait for others to do it.  Or we become resentful.

A few years ago I received a request to make a meal for a pastor whose wife was about to have their first baby (no exhausting toddlers at home with whom to contend).   Along with the request came a loooong list of don’t-likes and prefer-not-to-haves.  It really taxed my sweet spirit.  And since I start just about every entré by sautéing garlic and onions – their top two don’t-likes – I abstained.

Fellow church ladies, please, let’s stop the antiquated tradition.  Let’s let nuclear families bond.

Anyone with me?



4 thoughts on “Busy Work for Church Ladies

  1. I so agree with you on this! I was asked to take over the organizing of meals at our church because I “am a trained chef and know a lot about food.” This is not a quality you need for that job. I was told so-and-so needed meals but when I would check with the family they 1) didn’t need any, 2) their bible study was handling it, 3) They had specific needs and wanted me to make the meals because I had experience in that area. If I got so far as to send out a sign-out sheet I would get very few replies and the ones I did get were “please take me off your list” or “don’t know them”. My feeling is that giving a meal is a great way to get to know people!

    Then I got sick – chronic pain and fatigue and also a string of surgeries over 2 years. I wasn’t getting to church much because of my health but we still considered ourselves members. My best friend sent a couple of meals over and arranged privately a couple more. When she went to the person in charge of meals at the church she was told “Lydia doesn’t go to this church anymore so she doesn’t qualify”. Excuse me? What about all the events I organized, groups I was in, etc.? And wouldn’t my best friend know if I was purposely not attending anymore?

    Sorry about the length of this comment but I just wanted to point out how I agree!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I got to know a wonderful couple by taking a meal to them once a week. The husband was dying of liver failure and the wife had a serious health condition of her own. Their only daughter, who was in medical school, was driving in from Ann Arbor as often as she could and juggling her busy schedule to take them to dialysis, etc. That lovely family truly needed meals and I was happy to make them.

      Sorry you experienced that failure of Christianity – especially after being such an active member. And even if you hadn’t been a member, what about extending the love of Christ to the community?

      Sometimes we just don’t get it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with your points. When my Mom died I had a private service but the church ladies didn’t know what to do because they were brought up to serve tea or bring a casserole. I have dietary restrictions so I won’t eat anything unless I know what is in it. And maybe the new family or someone who is grieving doesn’t want a social call.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for your loss Jennifer. You make a good point. Sometimes the visits with casseroles just add more stress, and more leftovers than you know what to do with.


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