Katherine “Kat” Armstrong (MA/CE, 2011) and Stephanie Giddens (ThM, 2009) share a lot in common. Both are native Texans who met at Texas A&M University. They reconnected on the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary, worked in the corporate world while attending classes, and served actively in women’s ministry. Both are married to DTS alumni (Brad Giddens [ThM, 2006] and Aaron Armstrong [ThM, 2011]). And both are passionate about ministry to their peers, a largely unreached people group: professional women in their twenties and thirties. Because of this passion, Kat and Stephanie founded Polish: Refining the Details (think nails, not Eastern Europe) three years ago as an outreach to these women.
Several years of demographic research and their own experiences in the church and the corporate world led Giddens and Armstrong to conclude that the church and existing parachurch organizations in Dallas could do more to reach these women.
Both Stephanie and Kat realized they were interacting in the workplace with women whom they knew were not involved in church. Many, in fact, were ignorant of Christianity. Kat said, “I met women who had no understanding of the gospel, even in Dallas, Texas, and [I met] Christian women who were not intentional about connecting their faith to life.” She discovered few resources that helped her connect her faith and business spheres: to take the Word of God into the world of business. As a Christian, a seminary student, and an active participant in the corporate world, Kat said, “I wished there was a place I could go where I felt like I fit, where these worlds intersected.”
Two Women, One Vision
Stephanie observed a similar disconnect between her business and church relationships. She did extensive sociological research on women and the corporate world and found two significant statistics. First, in the early years of the twenty-first century, for the first time single adult women outnumber married women. And many of these women work in the corporate world. Second, women in their twenties and thirties have the lowest percentage of church involvement of any generation in the modern era. Stephanie concluded, “Women’s ministry must recognize that most adult women are single and not involved in church.”
Although Stephanie’s ministry focus had become clearer during her time at seminary, it was on a road trip with her husband three years ago when the vision for Polish came together for her. Brad encouraged her to think more specifically about her ministry plans. A vision of a ministry that goes into the marketplace, reaches women with the gospel, and encourages them to join a local church took shape. When she returned to Dallas, she called Kat, and the two met to pray and consider how they might make a reality out of the dream. Stephanie said, “Too many women leave their faith at home when they head for the office on Monday morning. And many of them have never come to faith in the Savior.” So over the next year Kat and Stephanie met weekly for prayer and planning. Several mutual friends also joined the team, and they established a strong leadership team.
A faith-based, nonprofit ministry, Polish exists to help women connect the Word of God to everyday life so they can glorify Christ and navigate culture well. The target audience of Polish is young professional women who are unbelievers, unchurched Christians, and unconnected churchgoers. Polish has three major goals: to share the gospel with these women; to show them how Christ and the Bible are relevant to their lives; and to direct them to a church so they might connect with a Christian community for deeper life change.
God’s Word in the Workplace
Polish’s format is a biweekly luncheon with an affordable lunch with costs shared by the women and donors to Polish; a speaker who communicates a biblical message pointedly applied to their lives; a small-group discussion around the lunch table; and an opportunity to respond with commitment to Christ. Kat said, “We achieve goal one by sharing the gospel at every Polish luncheon and asking Polish attendees to respond to the gospel. We reach goal two through our biblical message with practical applications. And we reach goal three with our table discussion leaders. Our leaders are intentional to ask women at their table to visit their home church.”
Combining expertise in the Scriptures and knowledge of corporate culture, Polish’s leaders have created an outreach that is producing results. Speakers address timely topics such as failure phobia, the problem of evil, and karma versus grace. Young professional women are coming to faith in Christ, reading their Bibles, and connecting the truth of God’s Word to the world in which they live. Those who are inactive members of a local church are invited and encouraged to join one of the churches represented by the women of Polish.
Dixie Kachiros is one example of how God is using Polish to change women’s lives. A non-Christian who was curious about God and Christianity, Dixie attended Polish luncheons for two years. She developed relationships with several leaders. When facing the unexpected death of her father-in-law, Dixie came to understand her need for a Savior. “My first step of faith led to the greatest gift I could ever receive—salvation and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” Dixie said. “I’m now taking baby steps. Even going to church is not a cultural norm for me, but through the encouragement of Polish and the leadership team, I am beginning a walk of faith and growing in Christ.”
Polish is a ministry of women to women. The goal is not to replace traditional church women’s ministry, but to reach out to women outside the church and encourage them to become part of a local Christian community. Kat affirms that Polish is accomplishing what it set out to do. “What we do has never been done this way—in a luncheon setting to share the gospel with young professional women interested in Christianity, and to connect their faith and careers.” The leaders of Polish envision a day when there will be Polish luncheons in every major city.
Stephanie said, “DTS equipped both of us, and many of our professors served as catalysts helping us, in the power of the Spirit, to make this vision a reality. Our hope is to see others join our cause, to help us find volunteer leaders, corporate sponsors, and ministry partners for the next phases of expansion.”
About the Contributors
Prior to teaching at DTS, Dr. Kreider served as Director of Christian Education and then as Senior Pastor in Cedar Hill, TX. His research and writing interests include Jonathan Edwards, theological method, theology and popular culture, and our eschatological hope. Dr. Kreider believes that grace really is amazing; it is a thought that will change the world. He is married to his best friend, Janice, and they have two grown children and one granddaughter, Marlo Grace. He and Janice enjoy live music, good stories, bold coffee, and spending time together and with their rescue dogs—a terrier/greyhound mix named Chloe and a black lab named Carlile.