Wednesday Devotion: Serving with Influence

Influence

Serving with Influence, by Gena McCown

As leaders we will carry a great amount of influence among those on our leadership team, as well as within the church.  Women will look to you for guidance, direction, answers, advice, counsel, and as an example of what women in the church should be known as.  The church is going to depend on you, as a leader, to also be a representative or ambassador of the church into the community.  You will be a reflection of Christ, a reflection of the church, and even a reflection of character to those whom you encounter.

When we have influence over others it means that we are a force in their life that can sway them toward certain directions, behaviors, thoughts, etc.  That influence can be GOOD or it can be BAD, and it is not relative to the type of person you are spending your time with.  You can be amongst a group of godly women, and act as a bad influence if you are gossiping about the pastor.  Or, you can find yourself amongst a group of women who are disrespectfully speaking about their husbands and become a good influence when you turn the tide of the conversation toward honoring our spouses.

There are many passages of scripture about “influence” in the Bible, that cover a pretty broad scope of the importance it has on our character and life.  Scriptures that tell us that wise people surround themselves with other wise people, and fools listen to fools.  Scriptures that remind us that we are influenced by the company we keep.  There are the scriptures that give us specific instructions on how we interact with others.   The one that stands out to me, in regard to influence is from  1 Peter 2:12…

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

When we step out into the world as leaders, we are being watched.  Not only by our church members and the women in our study groups, but by the non believers too.  They want to see if we are women of integrity, do we practice what we preach, and they want to see how the belief in God has changed our lives or influenced us to behave differently than the rest of the world. 

A leader of good influence is not only going to have good conduct, but will move others to behave in the same way.  She stands up for what is true, she defends the weak, she is generous and compassionate.  They see her, and they want to be like her.  A leader of influence will be moving others toward God, and not pulling them into herself.  A leader of good influence will not allow corrupt talk to come out of her mouth, nor will she be prone to gossip.  She will be an encourager who lifts up those around her, versus one who tears down and degrades others. 

Consider your influence, among those around you.  Do you call them to a higher standard, or do you bend your standards when you are around them?  Do you facilitate divisive and destructive talk, or do you reroute the conversation when it goes awry?  Are you praying that God will direct your words and deeds in accordance to His will?  When people see you, are you attracting them to God’s fold or are you pushing them down the hill?

Father, I pray that you would examine my heart.   Pour your Spirit out on me, and let it examine all parts of me.  My mind, my heart, my soul, my words, and my deeds.  Let my spirit be convicted of the things that are undermining my influence for the Kingdom.  Polish me into a woman, and a leader, who draws people out of the darkness and into the light of the Son. Amen.

Women’s Ministry: Pastor Predicaments

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The following article is composed of highlights of the recent WMC Meeting: Pastoral Predicaments, presented by Gena McCown

In the last year, or so, I have had an opportunity to speak with Women’s Ministry leaders from all over the globe.  When asked what was their greatest obstacle to Women’s Ministry, many felt that they didn’t have the support of their Pastor, or the church Elders.   In 16 years of serving in ministries, I know that feeling.  What surprised me was the number of women who shared this feeling.  As I explored the topic more, I realized a few things:  this was not denomination specific, geographically specific, or even generationally specific.  There was no unifying thread as to why this was so common, I had even found instances where churches with WOMEN as Pastors didn’t support women’s ministry.    We needed to dig deeper, because it wasn’t going to be an easy answer.

Ultimately… when I got to the root of the issue… the answer was clear.

It is our own fault.  We did this to ourselves, and we are the ones who can change it.

First, we need to address Women’s Ministry from a biblical perspective.

  1.  It is  NOT biblical.  There are no instances, anywhere in the scriptures, that outline a FORMAL women’s ministry program in a church.  This is a modern invention, to meet a need.
  2. Women ARE instructed to teach/guide other women in the scriptures.  That IS biblical.

Second, we need to address the history of “women’s ministry”.

  1. In the early church, we didn’t need a formal program for women’s ministry because ministry among women was apart of their daily life.  They worshiped together, fellowshipped together, and served Him together.  Christian communities were tight knitted, and their relationship with God was part of their daily lives.
  2. As technology made advances, and the agricultural societies diminished, we were pulled away from community and became insulated into our homes.  Things we would work on together, were now automated and we could do alone.  Things we would have to go out to the community to acquire, are now being delivered to our homes.
  3. Women’s Ministry programs were created to fill the void that was a result of this loss of community.  Initially they would be prayer groups, bible studies, and community service opportunities.  However as women became busier, these ministries also began to include events that were a one time commitments.
  4. As Women’s Ministry programs evolved they became a church within a church, often having their own mission/cause.  Women’s Ministries separated themselves from the church, and in some cases women were more apt to attend the WM event that was tailored to their interests than Sunday morning services.

As a result of this historical shift, a few things happened.

  • We lost focus on our events, they became topics and cultural vs. gospel or Christ centered.
  • We lost focus on our bible studies, opting for book studies that were topical instead of dedicated scriptural study.
  • We lost focus on our purpose in the church, becoming our own entity versus supporting the overall mission of the church.
In addition, because of this separation we created a legacy of less than stellar Women’s Ministry Leaders.  We have the leader who didn’t get her way, and just left the ministry in a bind… that now the Pastor has to contend with.  We have the women’s ministry leader who didn’t get her way, and created division as she tried to rally her troops… and now the Pastor has to contend with it.  Or, we have the Women’s Ministry leader who tried to usurp authority over the Pastor to make the ministry what SHE envisioned it to be… either through direct confrontation or subtle subterfuge.  Again, creating a mess the Pastor has to deal with in the end.
This is not to say that ALL women’s ministry leaders are like this, but I’ve seen it happen.  I have known the women who marched in the Pastor’s office demanding to get their way.  I have personally experienced the chaos of being in a ministry who’s leader suddenly walks away.  I have personally fallen into the trap of a person’s attempt to create division within a ministry, and stunned that I didn’t see what was happening.
So, the truth is… and it hurts… that we created this ourselves.   It is going to be up to us to fix it.  Now, ideally we could just walk into our Pastor’s office for a meeting, tell him that we recognize all of these issues, and we want to rebrand the WM into something new.  He may be really excited to hear you say that too, but we also are going to have to be patient.  We are on proving grounds, and we need to earn back the trust of our Pastors.
  • Pray for a change in YOUR perspective as leader, changing your heart and the ministry.
  • Be patient, taking small steps in order to regain the trust of the church as you change the direction of the ministry 
To Facilitate Change in Women’s Ministry
  1. Pray, pray, pray.
  2. Humble yourself before the Pastor, and admit that WM needs to change.  You may even need to seek his forgiveness if you have been undermining his authority or pushing against him.
  3. Ask him how the WM can support the vision of the church, unifying the WM back into the fold and honoring him as the shepherd of your church.
  4. When planning WM events, ask yourself how this event fits into the vision of the church.  God has given your Pastor a vision for this church, how to lead it, and where it is going.   This is not your ministry, it is God’s.
  5. Remember that Women’s Ministry should be a blessing to the church.  If we are failing to bless the church (aka creating too much drama for the Pastor, or neglecting to support the vision of the church), then what is the point of our ministry?

Have the Right Goal in Mind:

In addition to supporting the vision of the church, we need to be intentionally turning women toward Christ.  This is what the Bible commands us to do, as women.  Women’s Ministry is merely a vehicle or tool to accomplish this command.

  1. We have a responsibility to teach other women, in a local church context.
  2. We have a responsibility to reach other women, in a local community context.
Women’s Ministry is an amazing evangelistic tool if we are using it correctly.  It is a bridge that brings the unchurched into the church.  But, we must have a plan from there.  When they come to a brunch or fellowship event… How are we connecting them to the church next?  How are we moving them toward engaging in a Bible Study or Small Group?  How are we connecting them to Christ?
Know How to Speak to Your Pastor:
God created men and women differently, we complete each other because of where our strengths and weaknesses lay.   Men are generally of little words, getting right to the point.  Whereas women are gifted in the ability to recognize the importance of details.  Men tend to see things factually, black and white.  Women are more apt to catch the nuances of the gray areas in between.  When we use the gifts together they create a beautiful completion of God’s work in mankind.  However, it seems communication is also the area that causes the most trouble for us.
As a woman, knowing HOW to speak to your Pastor is going to change everything… and it really isn’t that complicated.
  1. Put Your Emotions on the Back Burner.   It is imperative that we realize as a ministry leader that when the Pastor says NO… it’s not personal.  It is not that he doesn’t think your idea is good, or that you are not capable.  It is not a rejection of you, at all.  However, this seems to be a boiling point for women.  When we are told no, we feel rejected and we get frustrated.  If it happens too often, we may quit the ministry.  Or, we may stop asking and instead do it anyway; taking the position of it being easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.  The other option is that we stay in the ministry and it stagnates because we won’t ask anymore and so we’ll keep doing the same things over and over again…. until the women in the church get bored of it, and then the ministry dies.
  2. Recognize it isn’t Just the Women’s Ministry.  Your Pastor is accountable for stewarding all of the church resources.  This includes time, money, resources, and even the overall church members.  He has seen what burnout looks like when volunteers are overworked.  He recognizes that everything has a cost.  The use of the building means that there is a cost of electricity and water, and an opportunity cost that means another ministry can’t use the space.  He also knows about many things that are happening the background, that the church may not be aware of.  Your request is being weighed against a lot of factors.
  3. Respond appropriately.  When you submit a request to the Pastor and he turns it down, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.  Keep in mind that seeking clarification is not the same as whining or trying to petition him to change his mind.  What you are looking for is the ability to understand his decision.  Ask questions like:  Is your NO to the idea or the timing?  Chances are his “no” is really “no, not now”.  Then you can follow up with questions like:  “Can we revisit this in 6 months?”  or if the no is because it’s not in the church budget,  “Could we fundraise for the project/event?”.  Should your Pastor’s no be related to the idea itself you can ask for clarification too.  What is it that he has a problem with, would he be willing to reconsider it if you made some changes?  There will be times where his no, is a no and it’s not going to change.  How you respond to this kind of no, is going to make or break your relationship with your Pastor.  If you take the no with stride, and move on.. you are an easy ministry leader to work with.  He may give you a lot more leeway in the future.  However, if you respond in a way that casts a shadow on him as the Pastor, become divisive, or threaten to quit as leader…that is a different story.  Not only are you hurting your own self, but you are damaging the women’s ministry as a whole.

How to Propose Ministry Events to your Pastor, and keep your emotions in check.

Most women’s ministries plan events in detail, then they go to the Pastor for permission.  This is because our minds work this way, we are trying to sell him the vision.  When we pitch an idea to the Pastor, we are already invested in the idea.   We think the details (down to decorations) are going to be what reels him in.  This is part of the reason why we are so devastated when he turns us down, we are already too invested in the idea.

From my years of corporate management, I learned that as a woman I am better off pitching the idea before I become too invested in it.

When you are in your Women’s Ministry meeting and someone pitches a great idea, keep it simple.  Ask yourself these important questions… Who, What, Where, When, and Why (or what is the Goal).  If there is a cost, include the estimated cost and how you plan to cover that (from the budget, sell tickets, etc).  Then stop, don’t allow yourself or your team to invest any further time on the subject (unless this is an event that doesn’t require Pastor’s approval).

THIS is the information you want to pitch to your Pastor.  Don’t worry about the decorations, party favors, and menu.  Your Pastor gets so many emails, phone calls, and now text messages.  He has a church full of ministries to coordinate and oversee, by giving him the brass tacks you are also respecting his time, and in extension honoring his family time too.  Pastor’s are not working a 9-5 schedule, and ministry often impedes into family time.

Once you get the approval, now is the time to invest yourself in the details and move forward.  If you don’t get the approval, you can ask for some clarification as to why not.  Then, you can respond accordingly.

Finally, if you are looking to revamp your entire Women’s Ministry, this too is an important conversation to have  with your Pastor.  First, you want his support in the changes.  Second, you want to make sure your changes are in line with the church.  Set up a meeting, and instead of starting from a list of ways you want to change the ministry… start with this:

Pastor, I think our Women’s Ministry could support the church better.  What changes you would you like to see in the Women’s Ministry?  How can we support the church’s mission?

Then, you can build your ministry changes and rebranding around his answers.

Wednesday Devotion: Leading with Initiative

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Leading with Initiative, by Gena McCown

Have you ever been in a meeting where you find yourselves staring at each other, just waiting for someone to speak up.  It takes me back to high school math class, when the teacher would ask a question and no one knew the answer.  He would stand at the front of the classroom looking into a sea of faces staring blankly back at him.  There were those who didn’t know the answer at all, those who were uncertain so they kept quiet, and then there were the few that actually did know the answer but were too timid to speak up.

I’ve been in ministry meetings like this too, and I’ve seen the same types of responses.  There will be women who just not “idea” people, their gift is being the hands and feet that get ideas done.  You will have women who wait for others to start the conversation, only then will they share their thoughts or opinions.  Most ministry teams seam to have 1-2 people who are very vocal, shouting out ideas right out of the gate.  These are leaders who are gifted with “initiative”.  They are idea people, who are often best paired with those who can help focus their ideas and those who can help get the work done.

A Women’s Ministry Team is made up of leaders, but even they need a leader… someone to guide them, reign them in, and be the deciding voice.    This is the leader who has initiative, she is willing to be the person to take the first step, throw out the first ideas, and get the ball rolling.  Leaders with initiative tend to be our risk takes, and those willing to make a leap of faith in ministry service.

A leader with initiative knows what needs to be done, and will do it without even having to be asked.  Initiative can also be explained as motivation, a person with motivation doesn’t just sit around waiting for things happen… they make things happen. 

Initiative isn’t carelessness, even when a leader is taking a risk and stepping out in faith.  A leader with initiative will be in prayer over decisions, illustrate good stewardship, and seek wisdom and counsel.  Leaders with initiative will seek out information and do the required research to ensure that they are making a wise decision.  Leaders with initiative are active in the process versus simply talking about what they should and shouldn’t do.

In the book of Nehemiah, chapter two, Nehemiah is speaking with the king.  Nehemiah looks down, and the king notices that his mood is down in the dumps.  When the king asks Nehemiah what has him so troubled, Nehemiah replies that he is sad over the state of Jerusalem.  After praying, Nehemiah takes the initiative to ask the king for permission to go home and rebuild the city/temple.  The king agrees, and Nehemiah goes even further seeking letters from the king to secure not only his safe passage, but also materials for building.

These were some BOLD requests, but Nehemiah took the initiative and did so under God’s direction. There are days when the Lord asks us to wait, and there are days we are told to move.  Initiative is what helps us take that first step.

Women’s Ministry: What Our Hearts Long For

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A few months ago, many churches started their Fall/Winter Small Groups Campaign.  Women flocked the sign up sheets, looking for the group that fit their interests and schedules.  Names were written down, books were ordered, and the first meeting is a success.  Almost every name that signed up was there.  We laughed, prayed, met new friends and began to study together.  Within a few weeks, the group was smaller,  most Small Group leaders expect that they will lose a person or two.  Life happens.

Right now, you are probably shaking your head.  You’ve noticed your group has already dwindled some.  You may be a WM Leader and the feed back from your small group coordinator (or leaders) affirms this to be true.

I’ve tried in the years past to figure out the problem.  I have offered weekly studies, and ones that were every other week.  I even tried a one a month study for those who are truly very busy.  I have led a study on every day of the week (minus Sunday), in the morning, lunch time, late afternoon, early evening, and even tried to do one at the night owl hour.  Interestingly enough, I saw the exact same thing happen.  Good turn out in the beginning, slowly dwindling toward the end.

Then I attempted to look at the type of study.   Thinking that perhaps a 21 week study was too intense, I found a shorter one… only 8 weeks.  Same result.  Video study?  Same result.  No video?  Same result.  Lots of homework, little homework, or no homework… didn’t matter.  Same result.

If it isn’t the schedule for the study, or the type of study… there can only be two other reasons left.

  • Women really are not interested.
  • The issue is the content.

In trying to discover which one it could be, I realized it was actually both.  If a woman truly wasn’t interested in attending a study, she wouldn’t sign up in the first place.  She would come up with plenty of reasons to justify not putting her name on the sign up sheet.  Therefore, it has to be that the study wasn’t meeting her expectation or her need.   The content wasn’t what she was hoping for.

I also began to realize that she may not even know exactly what it is she wants or needs out of a study.  She just knows that THIS one, and the NEXT one, and that PAST one wasn’t it.  In the recent months I have become entirely convinced that our study and small groups have become less BIBLE STUDY and more BOOK STUDY.  We are studying books about the Bible, or we are studying topics with biblical perspectives.  We have stopped studying the actual BIBLE or at least not as much as we used to.

Somewhere we came up with the notion that we needed other people, experts, to help us understand the scriptures.  So instead of studying it directly ourselves, we became reliant on other people to do the hard work for us.  But, God has given us all the ability to understand His word.  It isn’t a mystery that we can’t comprehend.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.   Acts 17:11

The Bereans were not more noble because they had special knowledge or capabilities to understand.  They were more noble because they didn’t take someone’s word for it, and instead studied it for themselves.

Because we have lost this habit of studying for ourselves, many women have fallen into a belief that they can’t.   They don’t know HOW to study the scriptures, so they don’t.  I would encourage WM Leaders to begin a movement of Bible Literacy in your church. Not only encouraging the women to read the scriptures for themselves, but also teaching them how to.

Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word, is a great place to begin.   Jen doesn’t interpret scripture for you, instead she gives you the tools on HOW to comprehend, interpret and apply the scripture on your own.  She takes you through the process, and walks you through the steps in the book of James.  This would make a great resource for your Women’s Ministry library, team members or a church wide campaign to increase bible literacy amongst women.

Wednesday Devotion: Leading with Flexibility

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Flexibility in Leadership, by Laura Masoner
Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Have you ever offered a recommendation that was met with the response “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”?  Have you ever met a suggestion with that same response?  If so, read on.
 
What does it mean to be flexible, and is it biblical?  We cannot be adaptable or flexible when it comes to morality, this is the one area about which there can be no compromise.  This type of flexibility will usher us straight into sin.  Biblical flexibility, however, is about changing our methods not our morals.  It is having a teachable spirit, a willingness to be instructed, and a readiness to act.  
 
A one size fits all approach cannot apply to every person or to every situation.  Our adaptability and willingness to allow ourselves to be molded by the master craftsman and to think out of the box yields for us delight in the Lord.  Being flexible and stepping out of our comfort zone challenges us, bends our will, and grows our faith.  The apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.“-1Corinth 9:19-23
 
Flexibility was how God used Paul to meet people where they were and present the good news.  Thousands were saved because of Paul’s willingness to submit himself to God’s will, be adaptable in each situation, and to relate personally to the people around him. Christ Himself used different methods to accomplish His goals when He walked on this earth.  For example, He healed by touch, by His word, in person, and from afar.  The truth is that bending to God’s will is not only about what He wants us to do, it is also about how He would have us do it.
 
In a leadership role, we have to let go of our will and learn to allow those around us to contribute.  Failure to do so results in a stubborn spirit.  Refusing to follow reason and logic or to be dismissive when hearing a differing opinion can cause others to stop participating, withdrawal, or even feel bullied into following our leadership.  To lead, we have to learn how to follow, and demanding our own way, always expecting others to follow our plans is not true servant leadership.  We have to ask ourselves, are we looking for our own glory and allowing our pride to lead us, or do we want the glory for God?  Arduousness, stubbornness, self-Importance, and pride are all fruits of inflexibility.
 
Pray for a willing spirit, a servant heart, and an open ear.  Look for opportunities to allow those around us to contribute and realize the fruits of their contributions.

Women’s Ministry: The Men’s Ministry Connection

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Recently, a group of Women’s Ministry leaders sat around a table in a Panera Bread.  We were talking about some of the difficulties that Women’s Ministry faces in the pursuit of ministry work.  Several of the women identified that they didn’t feel Women’s Ministry was supported in their church.  In the course of discussion we realized that all of those churches shared something in common, they also didn’t have a Men’s Ministry.  Could it be as simple as that?  Could it be that the reason Women’s Ministry is not being supported in some churches, simply be because the church doesn’t see gender based ministry important?

That began a quest.  I reached out to women all over the country who are Women’s Ministry leaders, and began asking two straight forward questions:

Do you feel your Women’s Ministry is well supported by your church?

Does your church have a Men’s Ministry?

The results were confirming my suspicions.  In the churches where Women’s Ministry was thriving and growing, there was also a SOLID Men’s Ministry that was doing the same.  In the churches where the Women’s Ministry was struggling, there was either no Men’s Ministry or the ministry was not functioning well.

Then I reached out to a few women who were involved in Women’s Ministry on a higher level.  These are women who are running websites that are resources for Women’s Ministry, involved in planning conferences for women in ministry, etc.   And the response was overwhelmingly in agreement.  In fact, many of the women shared that they were just talking about this within their own ministry/organization.

Ladies, this is a LIGHT BULB moment for Women’s Ministry.   In most churches in the United States the staff members of the church are going to be predominantly men.  If the men who are leading the church do not see a necessity for a Men’s Ministry, it will be very difficult for them to fully comprehend why Women’s Ministry is important.

In speaking with a group of men, I have learned that some of them have a notion that men are not interested in a formal “Men’s Ministry” program.  They believe that men are not wanting to gather up with other men the same way women do.  Lunches, Conferences, and other types of events are just too mushy, touchy, feely for men.  Others like to have men’s activities, but that usually revolves around doing man type things, a church basketball team, going to a shooting range, or doing community service projects like Habitat for Humanity where they are building together.

To an extent this is true.  Men can bond as brothers in Christ through manual labor, shared interests, etc.  A group of guys can sit in a room together, watching sports, speaking less than 10 words to each other… and yet that will be the best night of their week.  They are wired differently than women.

Or, are they?  I spoke to my husband about this and was quite surprised by his response.  He actually disagreed with this mentality altogether.  He said that he can watch sports, or work with other men any time he wants.  Simply go out in your driveway and start working on your car and the neighborhood men start showing up.  Call up any group of guys to come over and watch the game, and they will usually show up.  However, having intentional opportunities to bond with his brothers in Christ…. in a gospel centered, Christ centered way is something much harder for him to do on his own.

In many churches, if you look at the menu of small groups / bible studies / peer groups, you will find that the women’s groups outnumber the men’s groups.   Of the men’s groups (and I am specifically not including couples groups), they are often planned around the average work schedule.    There may be one or two in the morning, for the pre-work group.  There may be one or two around lunch time, where you can plug in during your lunch break.   And, then you may have one or two in the post-work hour where the guys stop in before they head home for the evening.

While these are great options, none of these fit for the guy who has to commute to work.  He leaves long before the first group meets, and gets home after the last group is done.  He’s not in town to plug into the lunch group.  Week to week, he is pushing through life without that support of his brothers in Christ.  None of these fit for the guy who is in town, but his work schedule varies… and he never knows when his lunch hour will come.  Because he can’t commit to the regular meeting schedule, he doesn’t join in.  Week to week, he is disconnected from his church brotherhood.

These men, they are the ones who thrive on a Men’s Ministry that is more than just a few bible study or accountability groups.  They can make a workshop on a Saturday, or sit through a Men’s Luncheon.  They won’t even mind chipping in for Pizza or having Chik-fil-a cater the event versus having to bring a dish from home (like the ladies do).  These are the men who utilize conferences and men’s retreats as a way to connect with the other men in the church in away that goes deeper than the Sunday morning meet and greets in the pews.  When they can’t connect in small groups, they can connect here.

I believe the greatest thing we can do for our Women’s Ministry is to encourage the development of a Men’s Ministry in our church.  However, it may be a big task ahead of us.  We are going to be challenging the thought processes of our male leadership on how men see ministry in the church.  We may be breaking molds.  We can’t plan and lead it ourselves, we have to find the man within the body that sees this as valuable and has the willingness to lead the ministry.

As Women’s Ministry leaders, we can start with our own husbands.  Perhaps, this can be a ministry co-led by couples…. where the wife leads the women’s ministry and the husband leads the men’s ministry.  Approaching the Pastor and staff in this manner, will lend credibility to the plan if you are already seen in good favor as the Women’s Ministry Leader.  They know you will be a help and support to your husband as he begins to lead.

You may find him as the husband of one of your Women’s Ministry team members or a woman in the church.  Start planting seeds in the women you are regularly invested in Women’s Ministry events, that a Men’s Ministry would be a blessing to the men of the church.

As a Men’s Ministry develops, have the Women’s Ministry take a strong stand publically in support of it.  If they are having a lunch, get women from your team or in the church to volunteer to provide the food for the lunch.  Or, if you have the funds in your budget, sponsor their first luncheon by catering in the food.  We want the men to know that we support their ministry, we want to help intentionally funnel the men toward it by helping their wives to see the value in it.

You may have to start smaller.  It might not be realistic in your church to step right up to the staff and present a full fledged Men’s Ministry program.  Start with a simple step, like having your husband (or the guy in the church you have recruited to lead) present a men’s conference that he would be willing to spearhead the planning.  If the Pastor’s see that men really are interested in these types of events, it may change their view of Men’s Ministry.

Most importantly, during this process with promoting a Men’s Ministry (or Women’s Ministry) remember that your Pastors are responsible for shepherding the church.  They are running every decision they make through the responsibility the Lord put upon their shoulders when they stepped in to lead our churches.  They are not our enemy, they just have a different vision than we do at times.  Any ministry should be a blessing to the church.  It should support the overall vision of the church.  It should not be a ministry unto itself, isolated from the church and doing it’s own thing.

Before presenting the Men’s Ministry to the church, really spend some time identifying the blessings that the ministry would bring to the church.  Look at your church’s mission statement or vision, identify the ways in which this ministry will support that vision or mission.  There are many Pastors and staff members that do not see the need for gender based ministry, because they see both sexes as equally capable of learning and serving.  We need to be able to identify to the staff the reasons why gender based ministry can be a blessing not only to the church, but to the men and women who are a part of it.   Next Friday, we are going to explore the benefits of gender based ministry in more depth.

Wednesday Devotion: Leading with Creativity

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Leading with Creativity, by Gena McCown

Leadership is often a very administrative role.  We have the job, as leaders, to plan events, execute directions, and analyze the results of our efforts.  We solve problems, counsel women, and lead studies.  However, leadership is not without a creative force.

There are times we will be presented with an obstacle, and normal reasoning and logic will not answer the problem.  Our budgets may be limited and thus we take on the role of creating decorations from scratch, or coming up with unique ways to fundraise.   We may also recognize that our normal calendar of activities isn’t really attracting new interest, and realize it is time to create a new direction.  The use of creativity helps us as we create our promotional materials and brand our ministry.

Often people will not assume leaders to be creative people, but instead they see leaders are cerebral or thinking leaders.  Yes, it may be true that we are task masters who rule over our responsibilities with to-do lists, schedules, and deadlines… leaders are more creative than they are given credit for.

Leaders will create order where there is none.  They will define vision where there is chaos.  Leaders will create programs, create leaders, and create welcoming atmospheres.  Leaders will even create a sense of safety, predictability, and credibility in those who may be untrusting or unsure.

God’s creation story, outlines a very specific order.  God wasn’t a haphazard artist flinging bits about.  NO!  God was visionary, seeing a bigger scope and analyzing the smallest details.  He created not only the beautiful things we see with our eyes, but the complex systems that govern our weather.  He created our blue eyes and the complicated network of our brain.  God created beauty, as well as structure that meets certain laws of nature.

Whether our skills and talents are creating masterpieces of fine art or putting together a well functioning organization, we are utilizing the creativity that the Lord has given us…. and it is a noble calling.

“Do you see man skillful in his work?  He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”   – Proverbs 22:29

We may not always see the ways that the Lord is using our gifts and talents in a creative way, because we have been defining our view of “creativity” from the world’s perspective.  Instead, I challenge you to see the beauty in the way the Lord created YOU, and the gifts of the Spirit that you are using every day in HIS story.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.”  Colossians3:23-24

All of His creation is born out of God’s creativity, everything that we do is a part of that process.   So, whatever you do… do it for HIM.  Be a part of His vision, His creation, His story.