Women’s Ministry – Diversity Starts with You

women

I am a listener.  When others speak about the ministry experiences, I listen very intently.  I am looking for things to write about, great ideas, or common problems within in the ministry.  A problem that I hear repeatedly, with slight alterations, comes down to how to attract a particular group to the Women’s Ministry events.

“I don’t know why the older women in our church don’t come to our events.  How can we get them to engage and mentor with the younger women if they are fellowshipping together?”

“We invite the MOPS moms to the Women’s Ministry events, but for whatever reason they just are not interested in attending.”

“The younger women in the church never attend anything the Women’s Ministry holds.  How do we reach them?”

You can exchange the description of the type of woman depending on church, location, demographic, etc.  We want a diverse Women’s Ministry, but we are not sure how to meet all of the needs, of all of the people.

What we may realize in the end is that our Women’s Ministry events are comprised of the same people.  But why?

THIS IS YOUR WOMEN’S MINISTRY

One thing we must consider is the most simplistic answer, which is that these women are your Women’s Ministry.  In other words, not every woman is going to buy into Women’s Ministry.  Perhaps Women’s Ministry was not prominent in their community or church growing up, so they don’t see the need for it.  It is also a possibility that women coming into your church have a preconceived idea of what Women’s Ministry is, which doesn’t appeal to them.  Another factor lies in the fact that women are far busier today than they were historically.  Between balancing home, work, church, and kids activities… well, there may be little time for Women’s Ministry.

As a leader, we must be willing to accept this.  One thing that I have always believed when it comes to planning Women’s Ministry events is that the guest list is up to God. Whether God brings two people or two hundred, those are the people God is trying to reach through that event.  He may bring them to an event in order to hear His word, or to help them find fellowship among other believers. 

God will bring the women, for sure.   However that doesn’t mean that we sit back and do nothing either.  We are charged with creating an ministry that is inviting, welcoming, and inclusive of all women that walk through our church doors.

A DIVERSE MINISTRY BEGINS WITH YOUR TEAM

The second thing we need to consider, is whether or not we have been intentional in reaching these women.  Take a moment and look at your Women’s Ministry leader team.  Would you consider this group of women diverse?  Are you serving in a ministry along with your friends?  Is it a group of women who are the same age or in the same stage of life as you? 

When we build a Women’s Ministry team that is comprised of women who are just like us, we tend to plan events that appeal to our idea of fun, our needs, our concept of what ministry should look like.  If we want to reach our single moms, we need to have a single mom as part of our team.  If we want to reach the younger women in our church, she must be represented on the leadership team. 

Our Women’s Ministry team should be comprised of various women that represent the church, and the women we are trying to reach.  It should be an array of ages, life stages, and ethnicities.  I am not suggesting your hand your existing team pink slips at your next leader meeting, and rebuild your team from scratch.  What I am suggesting is that when an opening comes available on the team, or if you have room to add some women, be intentional about who you bring aboard the team.

Reach out to a prominent woman in the church that is part of that group you are attempting to reach.  As your Pastor’s wife for suggestions if you are not sure who the influential women are in that particular demographic in the church. 

Decor: One Time Investment, Long Term Return

 

 

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Many Women’s Ministries exist on a very small budget, and some are supported by the donations of the women who attend events or the leadership team.  It is very important to ensure that our limited funds are spent in a way that makes the most sense.  One area that can drain our ministry budget is decorating for ministry events.

When decorating tables for luncheons, many women’s ministries will use disposable plastic table cloths.  This option is favorable because the table cloths are inexpensive and do not require cleaning.  However, over a long term, this cost will add up.  Instead consider investing in white banquet table cloths that are made of cotton or linen.  They can be purchased inexpensively online via catering sites, at local membership club stores, ebay, and often you can find ones for sale on sites like craigslist that were purchased for a wedding and now they are unloading them.  To make the cloths last longer, white cloths allow for bleaching when stains arise.  Generally speaking these cloths only need to be laundered if there has been a spill.   You can also buy smaller table squares or plastic overlays to protect the larger portion of the white cloth.

For centerpieces consider a reusable base that you can customize inexpensively for each event theme.   Mason jars can be decorated with twine or ribbon, then used to hold candles, fresh flowers, and other decoratives.  Mason jars are inexpensive when bought new, and even less if you can find them at local second hand stores, garage sales, or you may find women in your church have some stowed away in cabinets.  A white candle in a glass hurricane is universal because it will go with any décor or theme.   My church purchased gold chargers from the local dollar tree, a small glass hurricane, and a white unscented candle for each table.  These are used for every event.  To help the centerpiece work with our theme, we will use decorations around the base of the hurricane.  Small Christmas ornaments, also from the dollar tree, were perfect for Christmas brunches.  In the fall, we have a bag of fabric leaves, pinecones, and small plastic pumpkins.  In the spring, the candle is exchanged out for fresh flowers.

Other considerations, if you have the storage space and facilities, would be to purchase plates, cups, and silverware that can be washed versus using disposable.  You can order them in bulk from restaurant supply stores.  A fun option is to purchase sets from local second hand stores, where each table has it’s own pattern, or mix and match for a shabby chic feel.

If you have women in the church who sew, you can enlist their help in sewing table cloths, runners, or table squares.  This is a great way to involve some of the older women in your church who may be unable to serve in other areas.   Providing the material and thread may be a lot less expensive than purchasing the items already made.  Pay attention for sales, clearance items, and closeouts.   This is also a great time to utilize store coupons!  Ask the women in the church if they are not going to use the coupon from a recent mailer to donate it to the ministry.

If your ministry budget doesn’t have the capacity to afford these investment pieces all at once time, don’t worry!  You can begin to purchase pieces slowly over time, utilizing the disposable items until you have built up your inventory.  Or, consider sharing your plan with women in the church & fundraise for it or just ask for the specific items.

 

 

Women’s Ministry: No Rest in Your Sabbatical

sabbatical

In the Bible, God spent seven days in creation mode and then took a day to rest.  The idea of rest has been part of God’s plan for man from the very beginning.  It is something that has been adopted in many beliefs and fields of work.  Typically, it happens every seven years … but that is not a hard fast rule. 

Many professionals, when they take a sabbatical will not be found hanging around their place of employment.  They may stay at home or travel abroad.  A sabbatical can be a little as a month away or up to a year until your return.  But, the goal is always to return to the job, rested and refreshed.  Sabbaticals are often times that professionals may write a book. Or, if they are pursuing their doctorate it, sabbaticals make the perfect opportunity to focus on writing the thesis statement.  Perhaps a ministry workers theological or doctrinal beliefs have been challenged, so they decide to retreat into God and study His word.  In some cases, a job is simply so stressful that a break is needed to rejuvenate oneself to return with a better spirit.

 When one takes a sabbatical from ministry work, it may not be quite as easy to fully disengage.  As a Women’s Ministry leader, what would a sabbatical mean for you?  Would you temporarily step down from ministry leader?  How long?  Would you still attend church or would you take a break?  Would you still attend your church, or use this time to connect with other churches in your area?  What about your other ministry commitments?  Are you taking a break from Women’s Ministry leader only, but still maintaining your other volunteer roles in the church, or are you stepping back from everything?

Each of your choices will come with benefits, and risk.  If you step back from everything, and attend a new church… you may lose a connection with your church family.   You could find that the ministry accomplished somethings while you are gone, and your ministry team doesn’t want to change the progression.  You may even find that YOU no longer feel the call to serve in Women’s Ministry (even if they beg you stay).  With sabbatical, the result could be a complete change.

Yet, you could return to ministry invigorated with new, fresh ideas.  If you were feeling taken for granted, you may return to a more appreciative ministry team as they began to see exactly how much work you provided to the ministry.  Of course all of these benefits and risks are on human terms.  If they Lord calls you to sabbatical, He has a reason.  He is going to be working out something new, better.  If we trust Him, we go along for the ride regardless of the benefit or risk on human terms. 

One thing we do need to be aware of while we are on sabbatical is when the ministry work creeps into our alone time.  It can do this through gossip.  When the interim leader is not leading like you did, when the team is not happy with this leader…. You will hear about it.  When the team doesn’t like how the interim leader holds the meeting, leads prayer, plans events… You will hear about it.  If the church responds to the interim leader differently than it did to you… You will hear about it.  It may come in the form of complaints, or it may come in the form of questions. 

It can almost make heading to church unbearable, because you LOVE the people but you are trying to get REST from the ministry work, and you are being reeled back in.  Or, since you are taking a temporary break from ministry service … other ministries may ask for your help since now you are available?   The questions begin with “would you mind” or “do you think you could” or even … “It would only be one time a month….”.

If you are not careful, you will find NO REST in your sabbatical.  You will not return rested, refreshed, or even find your sabbatical time extends as you feel your not getting enough break.

When you find yourself being called to a time of sabbatical, make sure to:

  • Pray over the length of the sabbatical, and depth of the sabbatical.  How long? From what things? 
  • Pray over the location of the sabbatical. Out of town, in town but different church, in town at home church?
  • Express the conditions of the sabbatical to your church staff, other ministry leaders, and your spouse.
  • Be confident in your call, so that you can respond to requests for serving elsewhere with:  “Thanks for asking, but I am on sabbatical right now.”  And, do so without feeling guilty.
  • Stand firm with team members that approach you about the interim leadership, that they need to take their concerns to the leader directly.  You are on sabbatical, this is not your problem to solve.

I… We… They – Women’s Ministry Event Attendance

IcanDo

Perhaps you have noticed that the women who attend your ministry events are the exact same women, consistently.  New fresh faces are few and far between, the same familiar women show up to be served.

When it comes to Women’s Ministry events I have always believed that God brings who He knows should be there.  An event is a success if there are two or two hundred women in attendance.  However, sometimes there is a reason other women are not attending.  It is a lesson we can learn from the church as well.

I believe that there are women who simply do not want to just attend a Women’s Ministry event, they want to be a part of it.  Perhaps there hasn’t been an opening on your Women’s Ministry Team, or they may not be able to commit long term to the team but can commit from event to event.  As Women’s Ministry leaders we can get caught up in SERVING our women that we forget about the women who are also called to serve.  I believe for each woman of God, we are called to seasons of serving and seasons of being served.

When the Church staff realize they want people to be more connected to the Church, one of the most effective ways to make this happen is through providing multiple avenues where they can get involved.  When we are involved in our Church, we become invested in our Church.  When we are invested in our Church, we have ownership… and with ownership comes commitment.

There are women in your church right now that are just waiting for someone to ask for their help or expertise. 

  • The women who can sing or play an instrument, but can’t commit to the Worship Team.
  • The women who love photography, and would find great pleasure in taking pictures at the WM events.
  • The women who have a testimony to share, experience in a particular area they can teach others about.
  • The women who have a heart for hospitality and would happily come in and help decorate, make centerpieces, or come up with cute favors.
  • The women who are organized, gifted administrators, who would love to help you find a way to coordinate sign up sheets, manage ministry business.
  • The women who love to write who would be thrilled to tackle writing devotions on the WM facebook page, or communicating information to the women in the church for you.

These are just a few examples of women who may be in your church.  What I have learned is that when you can give women something to be responsible for, their attendance doesn’t just change for that particular event.  Over time they become increasingly more involved, and it may lead to eventual leadership positions.

If a woman from your church approaches you with a specific idea, and it fits into the vision of the church, why not allow her to run with it?  If she has a gift or talent, see if there is a way she can use it in the ministry.  The more connected she is to the ministry, she is also more apt to invite her friends.

Planning a Retreat Budget

retreat

It is a brand new year, and for many of us that means that we are in the midst of planning a retreat for the women in the church.  Quite often a retreat may be an alternative word for any sort of women’s getaway, including going to a conference.  As we begin the planning process for this retreat, one of the most important factors we need to consider is the budget.

There are two types of retreats/getaways that we can consider in our planning:

  1.  Joining a Women’s Retreat
  2. Planning a Women’s Retreat

When we join a women’s retreat, that means we are looking for an existing event that we can simply take part in.  It could be a national conference, a regional women’s ministry retreat, or partnering up with a larger church in our area.  The benefit to this event is that you don’t have to do anything other than promote it, collect the money (if there is not a website to register), and make travel arrangements.  All of the planning and work has been executed by the hosting ministry.  Whew.

However, there are times when we really want to do something more personal for the women in our church. Perhaps this is an opportunity to create tighter bonds among the women in the church, or maybe the Lord has laid on your heart a very specific theme/message to present.  When we plan a retreat on our own, there is a LOT more work involved.  To be honest, they are usually NOT less expensive either.  If you are attempting to plan your own retreat to save money, consider yourself forewarned. 

Generally speaking, from a business perspective, the MORE people who attend an event the LOWER the per person cost becomes.  The expenses for print materials, for example, will reduce in price per person because it is fiscally more advantageous to print a larger run than a smaller limited run. A speaker may have a flat fee that is not affected by the number of attendees to the conference.  The fewer people you have means that your expenses are divided up among a small resource pool.   For a retreat that I planned a few years ago, it would have cost me exactly the same if I had 50 women in attendance, or 100. 

Another point to consider is where the money for your retreat is coming from.  There are women’s ministries that have a budget from the church, or at least have an account where they have raised funds to pull from.  Yet, the reality for many women’s ministries is that they have little to zero budget.  When planning your own retreat, if you are going to be holding it off the church grounds, you need to anticipate having to make a deposit to reserve your date.  Will this money come from the Women’s Ministry account?  Will you need to get a “loan” from the church fund until the payment for the retreat are received, at which time the church is given back that advancement?  Or, are you going to hope for the best & begin accepting your payments… hoping that the space will still be available when you have enough to put in the deposit?  It’s a risky move, but I have known women’s ministries that have had no other choice.

I believe these considerations are why most women’s ministries will join in a retreat elsewhere, frankly it is easier.  Plus the cost you are given, is the cost.  There are no surprises.  If you are given a ticket price for a conference, we generally know that it doesn’t include our meals and hotel room.  We have options to stay in the hotel hosting the conference, or at a nearby less expensive location.  If we are aware that our food is not included, we can do research ahead of time to find out what the local restaurant choices are & their menu pricing.  If we decide to take our women to a retreat location, in most cases the cost includes your lodging, food and materials.  Then the women’s ministry need only decide if they are going to carpool or rent a bus. 

Planning a women’s retreat ourselves is entirely different, and we need to expect the unexpected.  Our ticket costs are dependent on the number of people in attendance, if we don’t get enough people the ministry pays the difference.  So, keeping all this in mind, we can begin to explore how to budget for planning a  women’s retreat.  Typically the expenses for planning your own retreat will include lodging, food, materials, speakers, and sometimes transportation.  There are ways to cut expenses, such as pulling your speakers from within the church versus hiring a professional speaker. 

In my years of serving on and leading ministry teams, I’ve seen several different budget styles.

  1.  The team plans the event as they want it, determines the number of people they want to attend the event, divides the cost up by that estimated attendance, and then you have your ticket cost.
  2.  The team sets a per person ticket cap, trying to get everything they want in within that budget.  They prioritize their wants for the event, until they run out of room in the budget cap.
  3. The team sets a per person ticket cap, does everything they want for the event, and the ministry makes up any difference between the final expense and the collected funds from the attendees.

The first option is risky, because you could create an event that is just too expensive.  The higher the price the event, the less people who will be able to afford to attend.  This means you will have a harder time getting the minimum number of attendees in order to make the event break even. 

The second option has less risk, however it does mean that you are going to have to let go of some really good ideas.  Or, you are going to have to get really creative (which also means you will be doubling your work load trying to acquire your event components for less money). 

The third option is beautiful option, but only feasible if you are leading a women’s ministry that has the funds to pull it off.  The majority of women’s ministries do not have excess funds that they can put into a retreat.

My preferred option is the second, it is a conservative budget that you can control.  The first and third options leave too much room for your budget to get away from you. 

Where the Money Goes:

One of the most shocking things I learned in retreat planning, is that PER PERSON… you greatest expense is FOOD.  Unless you are blessed with a team of ladies who loves to cook, and a location where you can prepare your own food, estimate 50% of your cost going to food for the weekend. 

The next most expensive item is going to be the lodging.  Campgrounds will always be less, since you are typically sleeping in a dormitory style space.  Hotels will always be the most, because it includes all of the extra amenities.  Additionally, I found that staying TWO nights almost always costs as much a ONE night in a hotel.  You also will need to consider how many people are sleeping a room, I found less and less women are interested in shacking up four to a room to save money.  They want their own bed, they want the space less crowded, and some hotels are no longer allowing this as an option.

It seems to me, no matter how you shake it, up to 75% of your money is going to food and lodging.  This is why more women’s ministries have opted for single day retreats.  It removes the lodging costs entirely, reduces the food cost drastically, and since they are usually local there is really no transportation cost either.

For small women’s ministries, you may actually find that is CHEAPER to rent a mansion on the water, preparing your own foods for the weekend than to go to a hotel.  And, something to consider, you almost always pay for the week.  The WM team could head up early and spend time preparing the space, bonding, even planning the year before the rest of the women arrive. 

Once you have secured the location and arranged your meal plans, then you can begin to look at speakers (if you are going to pay them), and finally move on to materials.

By choosing women from the church to speak, you can save money on speaker fees that can range from $50-$100 per session (not including their lodging, meal, transportation).  In our church, when we use a woman form within the church as a speaker we give her a discount on her event registration & usually get her a small gift.  If you have women who are comfortable speaking, but not necessarily preparing the materials, there are kits from companies like Group Publishing that provide all the content.  All you have to do is find a few women to present it, it’s a lot less pressure on the women overall.

Now that you’ve gotten the big three components out of the way, you can subtract those expenses from your budget.  At this point it will be very clear if you are working from a budget with a large margin that will accommodate renting a charter bus, or if transportation to the event will be left up to the attendees.  Coordinating carpools can be a helpful way to “provide” transportation options without incurring the expenses of a charter bus.  In the past, when coordinating carpools, we have made sure to provide the drivers with any road tolls and gas money as a token of appreciation for their willingness to drive.

Once you have addressed any transportation costs, the remaining available funds are what you will have left for all the other materials for the retreat.  These materials can include notebooks, pens, take home favors, or supplies they will need for the event.

If you are planning on doing a craft:  Try to build your craft off of items that are in the clearance section, ask for donations from local craft stores, or contact the manufacturer to see if you can get a bulk order discount for your supplies. 

If you are planning on a tote bag of gifts:  Ask local businesses if they are interested in sponsoring the items.  At a past retreat we had a local business woman who donated 50 water bottles, with her business card dropped inside. 

If you need supplies for activities:  Ask around the church, you never know what people have lying around.  A few years ago, we need 100 golf balls for a special activity at one of our retreats.  A woman happened to have a bucket of golf balls from her husband (who couldn’t play anymore) and they donated them to our event.  That saved us a lot of money.

Also consider that some local businesses will give non-profit groups a percentage off their purchases, like Hobby Lobby.   Others will give a gift card to their store that you can use for whatever you like, we got a $50 gift card to Target to use on our craft project because the end product was going to a local children’s home.

Getting creative can help you dwindle down your expenses and make that last big of available budget stretch further.

My final piece of advice is to budget conservatively, if you want a 100 women to come… but all of your pricing is based at 51 women minimum,  plan for 51.  You can hope for 100, you can pray for 100, you can even expect God to deliver 100.  However, base your budget at that minimum number.  This way anyone who comes to the event after that 51st woman is now putting you in the place to ADD to your budget. 

Adding to your budget will allow you to:

  • Offer scholarships for women who can’t afford the retreat.
  • Allow you to move things back into the Retreat Plan that you may have had to remove.
  • Provides a small budget that you can purchase thank you gifts for all of your volunteers, or even get a special gift for each woman in attendance.
  • It also allows you to have funds that you can roll over to future women’s ministry events.
  • You could opt to cover the registration for the retreat for the Pastor’s wives, as a gesture of appreciation.
  • Upgrade the food menu, add in access to an amenity on the location that was not included.

 

Authentic Intimacy Conference is COMING to FLORIDA

Authentic Intimacy’s Florida Conference is ALMOST HERE!!!!

Did you get your ticket yet?  If not register TODAY.

Bring your girl friends, mom and sisters, coworkers, ladies Bible Study group, or Women’s Ministry!

Married, Single…  18 -118

Ladies, let’s show conferences that S. FL is on the MAP!!!!

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