Women’s Ministry: The Childcare Conundrum

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Whether you have a formal program for mother’s like Mother’s of Preschoolers, a variety of Bible Study groups, or your Women’s Ministry likes to host brunches … inevitably childcare becomes an issue.

  • Not enough volunteers.
  • Not enough budget to pay childcare workers.
  • Background checks are expensive.
  • Limited space in Sunday School rooms.
  • To feed or not to feed the children.
I have yet to speak with a Women’s Ministry team where this hasn’t been an issue at some point, if not currently.  Growing churches will often outgrow their Sunday School rooms or nurseries if there is a surge in births.  The more kids you have, the more childcare workers you are going to need.  For the safety of the children and for the church, more and more churches are requiring background checks of anyone working with children over the age of 16 -18.  This is an expense that the ministry may not be able to afford.  Many women’s ministries will share stories of volunteers who don’t show up at the last minute, leaving members of the ministry team to miss the event in order to properly care for the children.  However, paying for childcare workers (especially on top of paying for background checks) might eat up the entire event budget.
What do you do?
There are many churches that have opted to NOT offer childcare because it causes so many issues, and would prefer to avoid the headache.  However, this will virtually eliminate any of the single moms or women who have husbands who work odd hours from attending your events.  Yet, these are quite often the women who need to be reached the most.  Fellowship events may be the only time they get to mingle with other women who are believers.
  • Paid childcare workers are more reliable than volunteers.  If paying a childcare worker isn’t in your budget, consider charging or taking donations for childcare services for women’s events.
  • Offer childcare only to those who are truly in need.  To do this you can opt to not include it in the event publicity, but direct those who may have childcare concerns to speak with a WM team member.
  • To offset costs of childcare workers’ background checks, pool with other ministries in the church or neighboring churches.  You can split the costs of the background checks and share the approved list of workers.
  • Cut childcare expenses in half by utilizing paid childcare workers and volunteers.  Many churches have teens who need volunteer service hours for high school graduation or college applications.  Or, you may have a group of teens who receive funds for youth trips in exchanging for volunteering at the church.
  • If you know some of the women attending have teens that can serve as childcare workers, or tweens you can help your workers, ask mom to bring them along.  I find directly asking mom is far more effective than going directly to the teen.    (Volunteer or Paid)
Some other suggestions:
Partner with another Women’s Ministry team that has a schedule similar to your ministry.  If you always have a brunch on the 1st Saturday, and they have theirs on the 2nd Saturday…. your team could provide childcare for their event, and they could provide childcare at your event.
There are many different online services for babysitters that include background checks for their sitters as part of their service.  Baby sitters will list their experience, availability, and their rate of pay under their profile.  This may be an option, if you are comfortable hiring childcare workers that are not from within the church or personally recommended.
Another facet of childcare that can prove to be difficult is estimating how many childcare workers you need.  Consider having your mothers pre-register their children, even if the childcare service is free.  Then you are only securing the amount of childcare workers you actually need, but do be prepared for the couple of moms who didn’t know or forgot to register.
If the brunch is a potluck, considering having a few of the women’s ministry team members prepare dishes for the children instead of the brunch/luncheon itself.  Be sure to skip things that are known allergens, or to ask moms when they pre-register.
A final thought, for women’s ministries who have chosen NOT to offer any childcare for their events.  There are times where it just isn’t feasible to have childcare available, or despite our best efforts we just can’t get the workers (such as during holiday seasons).  If you are not going to provide childcare:
  • Give plenty of notice about the event.  Even if all the details are not secure yet, a simple “Save the Date” is enough to allow moms to begin planning for childcare needs on their own.
  • Provide a list of known baby sitters, and suggest moms’ pool together and hire two sitters, for one house, and the group brings their kids to that home for the duration of the event.
  • Plan women’s events during the same time the kids events are happening at church.  If the kids are having an Awanas meeting, you could have a special event nearby.
  • Some nearby churches may sponsor “Mom’s Days Out” programs periodically.  You can schedule your activity during this time frame, and only suggest these locations to the single moms.

Wednesday Devotion: Living with Integrity

wrong or right dilemma or ethical question - handwriting on colorful sticky notes

Living with Integrity
by Laura Masoner
Webster’s defines integrity as the state of being complete or whole, and the Oxford dictionary adds the word “undivided” to the definition.  The Hebrew word is tom which means complete or solid.  Many of us understand integrity as being morally sound and honest, which exemplifies being undivided, solid and complete.   The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy and duplicity, the very sins that Christ brought to the forefront when he confronted the religious leaders of the day.
 
To live with integrity, your heart must be undivided and focused on your Kingdom purpose and not your own desires.  If you are divided, meaning that you straddle the fence between God’s kingdom and your own, you lose integrity because you allow your flesh to drive you.  If you seek your own pleasures and not God’s will, then you are in conflict with who you say you are in Christ and how you behave. There is not complete unity with Him, your heart is divided, and you will remain incomplete instead of becoming a fully devoted follower.  Having integrity is what will determine which desires prevail, your own or God’s.  A subtle lie that sometimes leaves us in a state of moral decay is that our motives are not inwardly focused 100% of the time.  Often times we may have a kingdom perspective, but only when it is appealing or easy and not when it costs something or takes us out of our comfort zone.
 
Being solid means being the same whether or not anyone is looking.  A solid whole person is not duplicitous but is honest, reliable, and honorable even when it’s hard or when others are not.  Circumstances do not define when a person with integrity displays their integrity.  Even when mistreated they are unwavering and strive to behave with God honoring morality.  The inability to remain solid and be the same in public as in private has been a growing trend.  The lack of integrity is the reason kids cheat on tests, find remorse only when caught, and applaud themselves or each other when successful.  It is the reason for scandals such as Enron, WorldCom, Bernie Madoff and the like.  A compromised integrity is itself moral failure, and results in any or all of the following:  marital infidelity, lying, cheating, manipulation, corruption, stealing, and even gossip.   A person without integrity misrepresents Christ’s character.
 
Many people think that as long as no one knows what they are doing, they can feign the Christian walk and talk.  This is most definitely not true.  There are always subtle hints that do not go unnoticed by others, and you only fool yourself into believing that it is hidden from view.  Most of all, God knows.  He is the one about whose opinion we should be most concerned.  He knows every lie by omission, every minute we surf the net when we’re supposed to be working, every time we say something behind someone’s back, and every time we commit to something and don’t follow through.  Integrity is the demonstration of who we are in Christ in public and in private. It is the very definition of James 1:22– “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says”.
 
When I think about being whole, complete, and solid, I think about the Rock, Jesus Christ, on whom our foundation must be built.  He is unmoving.  He doesn’t crumble, abandon, lie or change.  He must be the basis for our integrity, because morality based on societal definitions and are ever changing, are always subjective and degrade as society degenerates.  God remains the same, yesterday, today, and forever-Heb 13:8.  Who else in this world can make that claim?
 
This week, pray that God will reveal areas in your life that are not in line with His will, may lead you into sin, or differ with who you are supposed to be in Him.  Pray for His strength, guidance, and wisdom to recognize and avoid a compromise to your integrity. 

Women’s Ministry: Working Women in Leadership

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Many of us in leadership work outside the home.  We are juggling the various priorities with which we are faced, praying we can keep the balls in the air long enough for just a few of them to disappear.  In addition to the ministry responsibilities entrusted to us, some of us are also raising our children, going to soccer practice and ballet, and tucking our most precious blessing in each night, in addition to working outside the home.  We can face time limitations, priority conflicts, sleepless nights, feelings of inadequacy, and even guilt.   

How can we navigate through the maze of conflicts that block us at each turn so that we know we are following our divine navigator down the right path?  It is important to first set our priorities straight, God and then family.  

God does not equal ministry, God equals God.  It is your relationship with Him, praying and growing in knowledge of Him through the study of scripture, and not allowing anything, including ministry, to have a priority that is above God and His will that is key.  If we seek Him first, everything else will come into balance.  Sometimes we are so passionate about our ministry and the good we are trying to accomplish in His name, we forget that it is not our ministry at all, it is His.    We must remember not to neglect our relationship with Him because we are too busy doing His work.  If we do this, we are guaranteed to fail.

One of the best ways to begin to put God first is to start each day with Him.  I call the concept my First Fruits based on Genesis and the Mosaic Law.  God honors obedience, and out of obedience comes blessing.  In Genesis Chapter 4 we read about Cain and Abel, and what is most striking is that Able didn’t give to God his left overs, he gave his best from the firstborn of the flock.  God gave Cain a stern warning when he failed to give God his best that sin was crouching at his door.  The concept of giving to God our best or our First Fruits is carried over into the Mosaic Law in Exodus 23.  Carve out time for God every day, your best time, and make it your first priority.  This is the foundation for success in everything we do, and it must take precedence over everything else.  I work from my home in the software industry.  I carve out the start of my day for prayer, devotion, and reading God’s Word.  I have ignored calls from clients that occurred during my time with God, yet God has greatly blessed me in my job beyond what I ever asked or expected.

Be diligent about delegating responsibility so that you are not overwhelmed and you do not rob yourself of precious time.  One of the biggest reasons many of us don’t delegate is that we think we can do it better.  That may be true, but the truth may only be in our subjective opinions.  Sometimes almost perfect is good enough.  We also need to get past the concept that we can do it faster ourselves.  Although you may have a small initial investment of time, you should never withhold opportunities for others to learn and function as valued and trusted members of the ministry.  We will always remain in crisis mode if we continue to grip ministry responsibilities for ourselves.  Eventually, God may pry our fingers loose, it is better to cooperate with a willing spirit.

Get organized in order to make the most efficient use of your time.  Lack of organization increases stress, leads to forgetfulness, and costs us precious time.  First, get in the habit of writing everything down.  It can be as easy as keeping a checklist or using a daily planning system.   I like to use my online calendar to schedule and track my day to day tasks.  I have reminders popup when I need to begin working on a task.  For larger projects such as ministry events, you can use project planning systems or even spreadsheets such as Google Sheets to track the tasks that need to be accomplished, to whom it is assigned, and when it is due.  

Do your best to reduce interruptions.  You don’t have to check your email or respond to text messages the minute you receive them.  Establish firm boundaries around what interruptions you allow when you are working.  It is Ok to mute your phone and let people know that you don’t answer texts, emails, or voice mail immediately.  It is rare that there is a crisis that cannot wait until you are at a good stopping point.

Stay on task and resist the urge to interrupt yourself because you’ve thought of something else that needs to be done.  Paul says to the Corinthians “…everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”  Flitting from one task to another without finishing the former is not orderly and establishes poor working habits.

It is important to be disciplined in whatever you do.  Be careful to monitor time wasters such as chatty conversations, web surfing, etc.  Part of being disciplined is keeping a good work ethic, whether it is in your job or it is work you do for the ministry.  Avoid chronic tardiness which communicates to everyone that you’re your time and responsibilities are more important than everyone else’s, it is undisciplined and disrespectful.  Be honest about your work day, do not rob your employer of time and think that because it was time spent on ministry that it’s Ok.

We also cannot allow our ministry to cause us to neglect our families or treat them in a way that would leave them feeling insignificant or marginalized.  I believe that this type of neglect can cause some children to rebel against the church, because they blame the church when their needs are not met.  God has entrusted us with these blessings, it would be a sad thing if we pulled off the most fabulous retreat anyone has ever attended and our son or daughter rebelled against us and against God and His church.  We should never be the cause of our children looking for love and acceptance in the wrong places.  The same is true for our husbands, we can’t trade our accomplishments in the ministry for our marriages.  That is also a way to place a stumbling block before our husbands, and instead of encouraging them in their faith, it can cause them to turn away from their faith. 

~Laura

For the working women in our church, we set and example on how to balance our personal faith walk, as well as our commitments to church, home, and work.   There are ways as women’s ministry we can reach out to, or encourage our working women.

* Post daily devotions on your Women’s Ministry blog or website.  Use gifted writers from within your own church or access resources like Proverbs31.org

* Encourage a few women to step up and lead lunch time bible study groups in different areas of your city.  They can get lunch, talk bible, and fellowship during their lunch hour in a convenient location.  Due to time constraints consider a expository study that you can build on each week, or select a prewritten study that doesn’t require a long video before discussion.

*Embrace technology and have a Skype or FaceTime group style bible study where women in the church can join in directly from their office.

* Occasionally offer women’s events that start later in the evening, that can accommodate for working women to navigate rush hour traffic, change out of their work clothes, and don’t require potluck meals she may not have had time to prepare.

Wednesday Devotion: Serving with Knowledge

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Serving with Knowledge, Gena McCown

Proverbs 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
For learning what wisdom and discipline are;
for understanding insightful sayings;
for receiving wise instruction
in righteousness, justice, and integrity;
for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced,[a]
knowledge and discretion to a young man
a wise man will listen and increase his learning,
and a discerning man will obtain guidance
for understanding a proverb or a parable,[b]
the words of the wise, and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord
is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline.

“For Christian leaders, this truth goes much deeper: to be effective in your actions of leadership, you must first and foremost have a personal and in-depth knowledge of God and His Word.  Your knowledge of His truth is more important than anything else in your preparation.”  ~ Jeff McMaster

When we step up into leadership, we are taking on an awesome responsibility.  People are going to look to us for answers, but we are also going to be watched by our critics.  It is important for Christian Leaders to have knowledge about a few key elements.  Christian leaders need to have knowledge about communication with people, knowledge of requirements of their position, and most importantly the knowledge of the Lord.

To know God’s will for the ministry you serve on, or for your role as leader, we must begin first in His Word.  We meditate on the scriptures so that we know more of God, we also look at how those scriptures address the calling God put on our life.  Learning from the scriptures is not a one time event, but a life long pursuit of studying to gain further knowledge.

As we come to a deeper knowledge of His Word, we will begin to see how the great leaders of Bible history are described.  We can learn from their successes and mistakes to shape the leader we are going to become.  By continually learning, we are continually being refined in our role as leader.  As the love of the Lord is revealed in the scriptures we learn more about how we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as those who are our enemies.

Additionally, the more we know about the scriptures will shape our integrity as a leader.  We learn that we do not need to have all the answers, or be perfect.  Knowledge is freedom, because it reminds us that we are still a work in progress that is being perfected over time.  Our knowledge will help others trust us.  We are also put into a position to witness to people just through the way we live our day to day lives.

There are many great books out there on leadership skills and qualities.  There are books on how to run an effective ministry, plan a retreat, and fundraise.  We have been gifted resources all over the internet to help us learn more about the on the job skills required of being a ministry leader.

The best book to start in is, The Bible.    Be a student of The Word.  This doesn’t mean that you have to memorize every scripture in the Old and New Testament, but rather you have a familiarity with the scriptures.  This familiarity is what will help you when someone comes to you for advice or information, because even if you don’t know the appropriate scriptures off the top of your head… you know where to begin your search.  Knowing the scriptures will also help you identify sin in your life, or errors you may be making as leader.

There was a short time in my leadership history that wasn’t so pretty.  I had allowed myself to get caught up in gossip, but I was unable to recognize it as such.  The context of the conversations didn’t seem like gossip, nothing being said was untrue, and we were all serving together.  I was reading the scriptures one night, and there it was in flashing neon lights.  My sin was revealed in His Word.  Once I was able to see it, I was able to address it.   The scriptures not only showed my sin, but I was also directed on how to address it.

I would encourage you add to your knowledge bank by beginning to look through the scriptures for leadership qualities, and weigh yourself against them.  Where can you improve, pray for discernment, and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you.  Pray also that the Lord would keep this knowledge rooted in a spirit to serve others.  Otherwise we risk falling into pride, or becoming academic and sacrificing relationship for more knowledge.

Pray for God to reveal mentors or accountability partners that can help you walk through your journey as a leader.

Monday Council Update

This week the Women’s Ministry Council page will continue with our newly added content schedule!

Wednesday’s leader devotion is on “Knowledge of the Lord” – this is part of a series of devotions on various biblical characteristics that are important for leaders to pursue.

Friday’s leadership article is on “Working Women” – working women, single or married, can be a difficult group of women to serve through women’s ministry.  As a working woman & women’s ministry leader, Laura Masoner shares her insights.

Don’t forget to RSVP for the October 31st Training!  Click on the invitation below to connect to the RSVP form!

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Also make sure you are saving the date & inviting the women from your church to the Authentic Intimacy conference in Port Saint Lucie, January 30th!  Click on the picture below, it will take you right to the registration page.

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If your church is in need of brochures, we will have plenty with us at the October 31st training event.

There will also be some available at a special meeting for Women’s Ministry leaders in November!

Women’s Ministry Directors & Women in Leadership
are invited to join Authentic Intimacy for breakfast & coffee!
Monday November 16th
9:30-11:00am
Panera- 2759 NW Federal Highway, Stuart
RSVP via email to Hannah @ authenticintimacy . com
(remove the spaces)

Women’s Ministry: Reaching a Younger Generation

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When speaking with Women’s Ministry Leaders from across the country, I have found many of us share similar struggles in the ministry.  One of which is reaching out to the younger generation of women.  Titus 2:3-5 explicitly calls the older generation of women to teach the younger generation, but how can we do that if they don’t even seem interested to learn from us?

There are several ways in which we CAN engage the younger generations coming behind us, it just requires stepping out of the women’s ministry box that we have become accustomed to serving in.

~ Start a MOPS ministry at your church, for the moms with young children.  Quite often this is the group we are trying to reach, but we are failing to offer what they desperately need at this time in their life.  A MOPS group is not only a great way for the women to be able to build community amongst themselves, but the older women of the church can serve as mentor moms.  This is a position within the MOPS structure that assigns 5-8 mothers to a mentor mom, who is there to share her wisdom and life experience with them.  She is an encourager, accountability partner, and prayer warrior for these young women navigating a new season of life.

~  Volunteer as a chaperone to youth events, especially ones for the teen girls.  This establishes a relationship between the women’s ministry and the teen girls who will one day be a part of it.  It lets them know that the women of the church care for them, fosters relationships at an earlier age, and it also keeps the women serving on the women’s ministry team in touch with the how the world is treating our young ladies. 

~  Start a SUB Women’s Ministry for the 20-35 age group.  When we reflect on our Women’s Ministry calendar of activities, we may find that in our attempt to provide activities and speakers for the general population of the women in our church… we are failing to provide anything that interests the younger generation of women.  We may find it is easier to allow them to group together than to try and force them into the existing women’s ministry program.  The younger group of women may be more interested in going to see speakers, Christian concerts, or even taking weekend retreats.  Whereas your older women in the church are tied down to staying locally, having their kids in bed by a certain time, or job expectations. 

~ Intentionally add 1-2 women who represent the younger body of women into your women’s ministry team.  They will bring a vault of new ideas, and an insight to what the 20-35’s are looking for out of a women’s ministry.  If you can’t find anyone for the team yet, at least consider speaking to a few of the influential women of that age group for their opinion.

~ Engage a “connector” from that group to come to Women’s Ministry events.  A “connector” is that women in the church that carries influence.  If she is attending an event, others will attend too.  Let her know outright that you are attempting to engage more of the young women into the women’s ministry and you covet her support and influence. 

Women’s Ministries want to have their younger generations apart of their activities and church life.  It is easy to throw in the towel, when you think they are simply disinterested in what the ministry has to offer.  When we step out of the box, we can look at the situation with fresh eyes.  Is there a change that need to be made in the ministry?  Or, is there a better way we can serve them until they are ready?

Wednesday Devotion: Serving With Passion

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Serving with Passion, Laura Masoner

I grew up hearing that God is love, but I never heard the word “passion” when describing God or His character.  The description of God’s passion toward us is found all over scripture, a prime example being the Song of Solomon. If you’ve spent any time in Psalms, you can’t miss David’s passion for God.  I love where Psalm 42:1 says: “As the deer pants for the water brook so my soul longs after thee”.  I can sense the love, passion, and longing that David feels toward God.  Through trials and triumph, David loves and longs for the abiding presence of our creator, and it pours out of him like a bride gushing over her groom.  The bible itself is the greatest love story in existence, no one can deny the unconditional love and the lengths to which He goes to draw us near and lavish us with His love.  But the bible is more than a mere love story, is pure passion from cover to cover.
 
We are only able to love because He first loved us.  Not only does he love us, He is passionate about us.  As a jealous God, His godly jealousy is also a display of His passion for us.  He is passionate that we remove idols from our lives that keep us in bondage to sin and rob us of the freedom He has for us.  It is not self-seeking, God knows the pain and loss we will suffer if we choose sin over Him.  God has a passion for intimacy with His children, and true intimacy between God and his children occurs when we pursue Him with an undivided heart.
 
When I decided to fully devote myself to Christ and die to self, the Holy Spirit ignited my passion toward Him.  Not only am I passionate about Him, I am passionate about my calling and purpose.  He wants us to serve Him out of our passion for Him, not out of a feeling of obligation.  We are to have an eternal perspective that helps to develop the drive to exchange the things of this life for the things God calls us to endure.  The apostle Paul knew this all too well.
 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
 
As leaders we must have an eternal perspective from which we view the world.  We also need passion and purpose, although it is essential that we are passionate about the right things.  We need to place a high value in people rather than possessions or positions because we serve a God who is all about relationship.  As leaders we must be invested in people, not in numbers, fancy websites, or lavish brunches which are mere tools.  That is not to say that events and websites have little value because they are great tools to disseminate information and draw women together.  The point is that relationships are the point, and we must be careful not to turn ourselves into little “Martha’s” and begin to extend our focus in the wrong direction.
 
An effective leader should have passion about their ministry.  That’s not to say that 100% of the time we are positively effusive about leading women’s ministry, but if we ever find ourselves in a place where we’ve lost passion for the ministry, we need to inquire about it at the throne.  We could be taking the ministry in a wrong direction, or God may be calling us to step out of leadership so He can raise up a new leader.  It can be evident to the team you are leading if you lack passion for the position to which you are assigned, and you will notice the enthusiasm of the team begin to wane. 
 
 Paul was passionate about Christ, his ministry, and people.  Paul was actively and heavily invested in the people he served and his fellow servants in the ministry. This is evident all over scripture, it is seen in his greetings at the beginning of each of his letters.  He models a sacrificial leadership fueled by passion and bound by love.  He gives thanks, encourages, and prays for those to whom God has entrusted to him.  Read over the first few verses of a couple of Paul’s letters, such as Romans and Ephesians, and as you pour over the beginnings of his letters, prayerfully consider what made him a passionate leader.  This week, let us pray over our ministries and our leadership, that we will honor Christ courageously and passionately in the path He has set before us.