For over five years, 4word has been an advocate for women in the workplace. Many of the women we impact, however, are continuing to feel disconnected from their churches and aren’t sure how to remedy their situation. Enter 4word’s new Church Connect program! Caitie Butler, Church Connect Program Manager, talks with us today about the program and her dreams for it.
4word: Tell our readers a little about yourself!
Caitie: I’m a born-and-raised Oregonian who moved to a small town in Montana last year when my husband took a new job. It was a big move for us, being newly married, and my first time permanently living away from family and friends back home. I’ve worked in politics since college and was blessed by a supportive boss who allowed me to keep working remotely even after we moved. I was recently offered an opportunity to come on board with 4word, an organization I love and admire, and step in to the role of managing 4word’s new Church Connect program.
This city girl has enjoyed exploring the vast beauty of Montana, and we’ve spent many weekends seeing as much as we can of our new state. I’ve also been able to experience what small-town life is like in our town of less than 5000 people! Now, my husband and I are embarking on a new adventure, welcoming a baby girl in December. It’s been a season of transition, but one I’m thankful for as God has used it to grow my faith more than any other season. Having the “head knowledge” that God always provides for our needs, but learning to trust Him to do that in my own life, has been one of the biggest challenges and blessings of this season, and I’m seeing that play out in Him leading me to work with 4word in this new endeavor that I am so passionate about.
4word: How did you connect with 4word?
Caitie: I first discovered 4word through a friend who recommended ‘Work, Love, Pray’ back in 2011 when I was interning on Capitol Hill. It was great timing, because I had to make some big decisions about what I wanted my career and my life to look like during that season, including whether I would stay and pursue a career in D.C. or look for a job back home after my internship. Hearing Diane’s story and realizing that our faith does have a place in our careers helped me prioritize and make that tough decision. In the end, I stuck with politics, but left D.C. and started working on political campaigns in Oregon.
Thankfully, 4word had a local group established in Portland that I was able to connect with over the next few years. That led to me volunteering with 4word and signing up for the first ever Mentor Program session back in 2013. I’ve been a huge fan and advocate of 4word ever since and love that God led me to working with them on Church Connect – something beyond anything I could have asked or imagined! I love 4word because it is a community of women who understand the challenges we all face balancing careers and families while trying to grow in our faith and follow Jesus where he has called us. 4word kept me connected and grounded after moving to a new town and helped me navigate the many challenges that came with that transition. Knowing there are other women all over the world trying to follow Jesus while making an impact in their workplaces is so encouraging to me!
4word: Tell our readers about Church Connect and your dreams for the program.
Caitie: Church Connect is an amazing new frontier for 4word. Over and over, we have heard women in our local groups say that while they were blessed by the community and encouragement 4word gave them, they still felt isolated and even invisible in their own churches as professional women and mothers. 4word strongly believes in being connected to community through a local church where we can learn, worship, and serve.
Over the last five years, 4word has learned a lot about reaching women in the workplace and equipping them to live out their God-given potential. We believe the resources our amazing community of women provide could also be beneficial for churches who recognize the need to reach working women and also the challenges of connecting and supporting those women. Church Connect exists to fill that gap and help churches meet the challenge of reaching, connecting and engaging working women and their families, not in a one-size-fits-all program, but by looking at the individual needs of each church and offering resources to help.
I personally have BIG dreams for Church Connect! Almost every woman I talk to, regardless of age, season in life, and geographical location has struggled to feel connected and valued in their church. I love the local Church (with a big ‘C’) and believe it can be such a force for good in our world, especially at a time when chaos seems to reign around us. I’m confident engaging women in leadership in their churches and communities can make a huge impact in our neighborhoods, cities, and world. Church Connect is the nexus of all these things: equipping women to live out their God-given calling; building authentic relationships; and engaging them in the local church to make disciples and impact their communities. I’m so excited to see 4word women get involved in Church Connect and take this mission straight into their own church!
4word: Why is Church Connect needed?
Caitie: Many of the statistics we hear about the church today are sobering. According to a recent report by Barna, only 31% of American adults are practicing Christians, attending church at least once per month. 43% of young people raised in the church leave their faith (or at least stop practicing it) by their mid-20s. There have also been societal shifts that influence women in the workplace and the church. In our conversations with pastors and church leaders, many are shocked to hear that 73% of women in America today with children under the age of 18 work outside the home. Many of these professional women are leaving the church (some studies report as many as a quarter) and 38% of Christian women have not been to church in the past six months. Women earn half of all professional degrees, and 40% of U.S. mothers are the primary breadwinners in their families. Single women are pursuing careers and getting married later, and many women are having children later, too. All of these factors contribute to a changing environment for working women both outside and inside the church, and many churches aren’t adapting to help these women feel welcome and stay connected.
I don’t share these statistics to shock or shame anyone. But we do need to accept the reality that most women face today, especially those that want to stay connected to a church and live out their faith in community. If these women, myself included, feel isolated at church, many will choose to disengage altogether and take their husbands and children with them. If we care about seeing a healthy, thriving local church, then we need to face these challenges head-on and do what we can to make room for professional women and mothers in the church.
4word: How can our readers help spread the word about Church Connect and get involved?
Caitie: You as 4word women are key as we reach out to churches, help them understand the importance of reaching working women, and get them connected to 4word! We’re already partnering with a handful of churches, largely in cities where 4word has local groups meeting regularly. If you’re plugged in to a 4word local group and think this is a message your church needs to hear, we’d love to partner with you to bring 4word into your church – whether by connecting women in your church to 4word, starting a small group within your church, or helping your church build its own ministry that supports working women. This starts with a conversation, and if you’re interested in connecting your church to 4word, please let me know! We’ll also be including information about Church Connect on the 4word website in the coming weeks, which you can use as a resource for sharing about 4word with your pastor or small group leader. We’re also still trying to learn as much as we can from churches about the resources they need to help them reach, connect and engage working women in their own congregations. Let’s start the conversation in your church today!
We are so excited to see how God leads 4word into churches around the country! If you think your church could benefit from the Church Connect program, please email Caitie (email@example.com) today for information on how you can get started.
Caitie Butler is passionate about the mission of 4word to connect working women and empower them in the workplace, at home, and in the church. She loves seeing young women in particular discover and pursue their calling. She has spent her career as a communications professional working primarily in state politics and public affairs.
Caitie recently jointed the 4word team as Church Connect Program Manager, working with local churches to reach and engage working women. If you are interested in connecting 4word to your church, please reach out to Caitie at firstname.lastname@example.org.