SPARROW CONFERENCE: KAT, WE ARE SO EXCITED TO BE PARTNERING WITH POLISH THIS YEAR, CAN YOU TELL OUR READERS ABOUT POLISH? WHAT IS THIS MINISTRY?
Polish helps young professional women connect with each other and explore God. We have monthly luncheons in Austin and Dallas of professional women in their 20s and 30s who gather together to share a meal and talk about how career and faith intersect.
Our mission is to share the gospel with a generation of young professional women and equip a generation of young professional women to share the gospel.
SC: tell us about the beginnings of POLISH. what led you to start this? what is the meaning behind the name POLISH?
Stephanie Giddens and I met in college at A&M (whoop) and later reconnected on campus at Dallas Theological Seminary. We were both working full time and could sense a burden to reach women with the gospel. We co-founded Polish in 2008.
Back in 2008, I remember sitting on the floor with my bible open to John 17, weeping for the lost. (Like snot bubble, ugly cry.) Eight years later, I still go to bed with an aching heart for the lost and disconnected in our world. Polish was birthed when John 17:17 took root in my heart. The word of God sanctifies us, y’all.
The meaning behind our name Polish is about the fact that young professional women are feminine but have to be polished at work. We’re all trying to refine the details in our lives.
When Polish was just a dream, I was making a name for myself in sales and going to seminary part time. My work connected me with tons of young professional women. As a result, I was getting to share my faith often, but I noticed a disconnect.
Young professional women are hungry for spiritual connection, but they are opting out of the place traditionally designed for such connection: the church. Our experience with professional women would later be confirmed by data from the Barna Group and validated with statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:
The only religious behavior that increased among women in the last 20 years was becoming unchurched.
You see, women are the newest U.S. mission field, and they feel less emotional support from the local church than any other generation before them. Let that settle in for a moment. And guess who is best equipped to reach women in their 20s and 30s??? You! The readers of this blog. They need you.
Women are choosing to marry later in life, to have children later in life, and to have fewer children. Women have also surpassed the number of men getting advanced educational degrees. As a result, they are in the workforce longer. Over 40% of women with children work.
Working women (single, married, divorced, living in, partnered up, with kids, without kids, single parents) are stressed out, overworked, doing the lion’s share of parenting even in the most equitable marriages, and have no margin.
SC: we love your heart for discipleship and connecting women. how does POLISH do this specifically?
We’re a super inclusive group. Any young professional women of any faith background at any place in their faith journey will feel at home with us. The thing that brings us together is a desire to meet other women in a similar life stage and the desire we all have to think courageously about matters of faith and how the God of the bible can inform and shape our everyday lives. We sit in round tables at our events with a designated table host that has one goal: to make you feel loved. Our table leaders are your resource for encouragement and spiritual direction. We share a meal together during a much needed reprieve from our work days and then we let organic networking and connection do it’s thing. We also help our attendees look for local churches to attend along with our table leaders.
SC: you do such a beautiful job mobilizing women in the workplace. what challenges do you see for women as they balance work and ministry?
I feel like there is no good category for me. Now I know that I’m not alone. It’s not about me not fitting the categories (corporate/nonprofit, business/ministry, working mom/invested parent, pastor’s wife/ambitious woman). The categories are nonsense.
I was great in business, but I had a passion to share the gospel and teach the bible. So what was I supposed to do? My husband is a lead pastor now, but we knew the day I co-founded Polish this would profoundly impact his career...we just weren’t sure how. I imagined we would have a family, but what would happen to all my God-given ambitions? Do you know that my inbox fills up weekly with women I barely know asking me about these same tensions? It’s crazy. I remember choosing full time childcare this time last year and knowing that some in my Christian community would be uncomfortable with my choice. I fear their assessment of my choices. I live daily in the tension of having competing passions and interests and priorities.
But here is where I land. No relationship, role, category, job, title, or lack thereof defines who I am. I’m a Jesus girl. I’m doing my best to hear his voice and I’m dependent upon the Spirit to teach me about obedience when he asks me to do something, and when he asks me to stop.
I believe the tensions and challenges I face are now universal for Millennial women. And I talk about that in this video.
SC: if you could give one message to millenial women, what would it be?
I asked my friend Ashley to illustrate my advice.
Ladies, listen to me carefully. I’m not sure how you and I got bad information. I’ve got some theories. (But that’s a different blog post for a different day.) We’ve picked up some messaging as women that marriage will be our greatest joy and parenthood will be your highest calling. This is heresy. Loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength is our highest calling and greatest joy. No season or role should be our end goal. Knowing God and loving others is the goal y’all.
If I’m speaking to your soul right now I’d love to hear more about it.
Give me a shout at www.katarmstrong.net.