Checking the Pulse of Your Ministry

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If you have even been in the hospital for any length of time, you know the routine.  Every so many hours a nurse will wheel her cart into your room.  She’ll check your pulse and blood pressure, she may even check your oxygen levels and temperature.   When we are in the hospital, we are there for a reason. Something brought us in to be cared for and regular intervals where they check our vitals is part of our care.  They are looking for key pieces of information… is the medicine working, are your symptoms better or worse, are you still stable for surgery, is there something else you may need?

But, they are not the only ones checking.  Have you ever noticed that no matter what brings you into your doctor, from a simple cold to a well examination… they check too?  You have an earache, but the nurse checks your blood pressure.   It’s your annual exam with the obgyn, but she’s listening to your lungs through her stethoscope.  These doctors are also interested in checking our vitals.  Unlike the nurses in the hospital, who know what brought you in the doors that day, these doctors and nurses are taking a routine glimpse into your overall well being.  These are the professionals that are going to catch something that you may have had no idea was happening in your body, they are the heroes of early detection.

As ministry leaders, we too should be checking the vitals of our ministry for effectiveness.  We need to listen to the sounds of the ministry as it exists today… does it sound healthy?  We need to check the pulse of the women in our church to see if they are engaged and pumping into the ministry or waning off.  We also need to be taking a temperature of the climate to understand what our ministry needs and what it doesn’t.  If we continue to run the exact same ministry day in and day out, it will get stale and it will no longer feed the needs of the changing body.

It is important for us to understand is working and what isn’t, what is our program lacking and what may we have too much of.  The only way we can know the answers to this question is by examining our ministry effectiveness.

  • Are we bringing our women into a deeper relationship with Jesus?
  • Are we pointing our guests to the cross or to the buffet table?
  • Are we providing a variety of opportunities that meet women at various stages in their walk?
  • Are we providing room or even an open door for the Holy Spirit to lead/guide the ministry?
  • Are we as leaders growing in our own relationship with Christ and in our gifts/talents?
  • Are we identifying measurable change in the lives of the women we serve?
  • Are we looking outside our walls and becoming aware of the needs and influences outside our body?
If we want to ensure that we are leading a ministry that is constantly keyed into the pulse of the women we serve, there are a few things we can accomplish within our ministry team.
1)  Have a ministry team that has a variety of women in different stages of their faith journey, as well as life stages.
2)  As a team, regularly check in with community leaders to see what the needs in your community are today.  Often needs in a community change over time, and we best serve when we know where and how to serve.
3)  Consider having “term limits” on how long any one person serves on the leadership team.  This gives existing team members a break to rest and see if the Lord is still calling them to serve in Women’s Ministry.  It also opens the door to bring in new fresh faces, which will bring in new and fresh ideas.
4)  Do not fear change, embrace it.  Change is an opportunity to see God do a new thing.
5)   Challenge your ministry team to bring some new, fresh ideas to the next meeting.
With the church body itself, you can check the pulse of the ministry by a few key tactics.
1)  Take a Survey.   There are several online survey sites, many that are free, where you can put together a thorough ministry survey and see how the women feel about the ministry.  Some even include a comment section at the end; where your members can share ideas, suggestions, or feedback.  If you want to survey the women in smaller bite sized chunks of information – or – on very specific events or ideas; Facebook groups allow a single poll question that you can customize the answers for.  This is a great tool, as well, because they can also leave a comment.  The only difference between the survey sites and Facebook polling is anonymity.  Any polls or comments on Facebook will identify the person answering.
2)  Ask the Connectors.   I’ve heard several ministry leaders use the term “connector” before, and if you aren’t familiar with it, it is essentially the “it girls” of the church.  Who are the women that carry influence?  She’s the woman that you KNOW if she’s going to be at your event, others will follow her there.  You’ve overheard her asking people if they are coming to certain events, because she is all about supporting the ministry.  She may be plugged in to one or more ministries in the church, or to community groups.  She rarely walks in the door alone, bringing guests is her thing… and she does it well.  There are usually connectors within each age group or demographic in your church.  Seek her out, and ask her to share her honest thoughts about the ministry.
3)  Be Among the Women You Serve.  It isn’t uncommon at an event to see all of the Women’s Ministry team members sitting together.  Instead, make an intentional effort to have the leaders dispersed among those attending the event.  This allow your team members to get in the moment feedback on the event, content, speakers, etc.
4)  Have a Town Hall Meeting.  Invite the women of the church to participate in a Town Hall or Open Forum about the ministry.  In the morning with coffee and bagels, a night with hot cocoa and desserts… keep it simple.  What I like about the Town Hall meeting is that you will see which women in your church are not only attending the events, but you’ll meet the ones who are interested.  Share the vision, ask for ideas, recruit volunteers, and give the women a change to have not only a voice in the development of the programs… but ownership in them too.   A Town Hall meeting is a fantastic place to keep your eyes open for future women’s ministry team members too.

Don’t forget to RSVP!

Our event is just around the corner!  Make sure you RSVP as space is limited, additionally the first 30 women to RSVP will receive an amazing gift bag from our event sponsors.  Click on the invitation below to RSVP today!

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Event Sponsors:

Who Is Your Timothy?

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When developing leaders in your Women’s Ministry team, one of the most important people you need to be on the look out for is your eventual replacement.  Life and ministry work is unpredictable.  The Lord may move your to another city or state, or perhaps you may find He is moving your heart away from Women’s Ministry toward something else that needs your specific gifts and talents.  You could get pregnant or have an illness in your family that requires you to take some time off.   Our co-founder Laura says we need to have a “if I get hit by a bus” plan in place. 

What if something happened today that immediately pulled you away a leader?  How would your Women’s Ministry team respond?  Could they pick up your baton and keep running or would they be lost wondering what to do next?

A few years ago, I was a part of a ministry that had a very unexpected and sudden departure of our leader.  She was very hands on and did most of the work herself.  As her team we supported her ideas and programs.  When she left, we were stumped.  There were a few major projects up in the air, and we didn’t have all of the information we needed.  One of the biggest was related to a financial commitment and we had just under a week to decide if we should move forward or shelve it.  We sat at the meeting… staring at each other in disbelief… no one knew the answers the questions we all had.  

This is NOT a great situation for any ministry to be in.  Which is why it is important that we have a second  in command.  Call it a co-leader, assistant, vice president, or whatever term you feel comfortable with… but the role is the same.  It is the person who can pick up that torch for you, because they’ve already been apart of the process.  This person is being mentored and groomed by you to take your place, should the season arrive.  When you are planning meetings or projects, they are brought into the fold.  Everything you know, they know. 

You will share with them how you come about your decision making process, where you keep supplies, passwords and keys, etc.  Occasionally you will allow them to run the meeting in your place, or take the lead on a major project.  If you are meeting with the Pastor or staff member that oversees the Women’s Ministry, she is included in this meeting.  She becomes your right hand woman, the Timothy to your Paul.

How will you identify her?

  • She never misses a meeting.
  • She’s not only writing down the things that apply to her from the meeting, but everyone else.  She’s already “in the know”.
  • If you can’t recall a piece of info from a previous meeting, she usually can.
  • She speaks up often with ideas and suggestions for the ministry.
  • She accomplishes her tasks without you needing to remind her, and usually early.
  • She’s known for helping others with their tasks, once she has completed her own.
  • She’s has leadership experience, and you can see that in how she interacts at the meetings.
  • She’s a regular attender at the church.
  • She is also wise, she doesn’t overschedule or overburden herself with commitments.  She knows how to say no, and she’s said it to you in the past.
  • She may have outright asked or hinted at desiring more responsibility in the ministry.
  • She will email you ideas, articles on  Women’s Ministries, or share what she has learned other ministries are doing effectively.
  • At conferences, she signs up for workshops about Women’s Ministry.
  • She is pursuing a deeper relationship with Christ, and knowledge of the Word

These are just a few ways you can look for those people who stand out.  But, before you approach her about this role, be sure to cover it in prayer and speak with the Pastor or the staff member that oversees the ministry about the person you are considering.

Serving a Team Member in Grief

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When crisis hits any one in our circle of friends or community, we want to respond.  We send flowers, bring over meals, and do whatever we can to help.  When crisis hits someone on our ministry team, we feel the same desire to help them.  However, the method in which we choose to help is not always very helpful.

Everyone responds to crisis and grief differently, some will want to retreat and cleave to their family members.  Others want to do anything they can to keep their mind occupied.  This past week, my father in law passed away.  I’ve never seen my husband more interested in knocking things off his “honey do list”. 

Several years ago, my husband went through a series of surgeries that spanned over nine months.  He was not allowed to return to work until he was healed from his final surgery.  He was home bound, in significant pain, and required my constant attention.  However, he also slept a lot during the healing process.  I couldn’t leave the house but for short errands and picking up the kids, in case he needed me.  It was a great time for me to lean into Women’s Ministry with full gusto.  I was happy to take on more tasks, simply to have something to fill up my time.  However, our Women’s Ministry leader at the time kept trying to scale me back.  Her intentions were good, but she wasn’t understanding what I needed at the time.

When my Father In Law’s cancer came back and we were told he didn’t have much time left, this was a different scenario.  I needed to be available to my husband, so that I could accompany him on visits with his father.  I needed to make sure everything at the house was under control, so he didn’t need to worry about it.  This was a time where, in crisis, I needed to be relieved of commitments wherever possible. 

What I’ve learned over the years in ministry leadership, and from my own experiences, is that not only do we all handle crisis and grief differently…. but each crisis or grief is going to be different and handled accordingly.

So, how do you handle it when your Women’s Ministry team member is going through a crisis or grieving? 

  • Don’t assume.  How you would respond, or what you would want others to do for you, is not necessarily what she needs.  Don’t make assumptions or decisions based on your own feelings/opinion.
  • Do ask.   Ask your team member if she needs to take some time off, or if there are any of her tasks she would like to hand off (or that can be tabled).
  • Don’t overwhelm.  Take your conversations slowly, don’t put pressure on her to decide today what she needs or doesn’t.  Give her time to process your offer, and get back to you.  If she’s a very private person, don’t show up on her doorstep unannounced with the whole ministry team with a slew of freezer meals.
  • Do wait.  Make the offers, then wait patiently for her to respond.
  • Don’t miss her ques.  When at the church or at meetings, people are going to ask her questions or offer sympathy.  If you notice she seems to be growing upset, don’t miss her facial expressions and body language.  Step in and divert the questions or find a way to bring her out of the crowd to compose herself.  She’ll appreciate the rescue.
  • Do pray.  Pray for her family, the situation, her needs, peace, etc.  As a Women’s Ministry team, there is something incredibly beautiful and sacred when we intercede for those we serve with.

 

Fundraising Dilemmas

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For many churches providing a budget for the Women’s Ministry is an impossibility, even a small one.  The Women’s Ministry is not being singled out either, as there are many sub-ministries that are not getting a line in the budget either.  Even in some of the larger churches there may not be a budget, as the larger the church the more expenses to be dealt with.  Building projects, new equipment or VBS may get priority over Women’s Ministry.

First, I want to express that this is not exactly wrong.  I’ve heard from Women’s Ministry leaders who feel like the ministry isn’t being supported by staff, for no other reason than it not having a line in the budget.  I even had one leader suggest that even $1.00 would be fine, just to see it on the budget.  The belief was that a line in the budget meant the church was taking it seriously.

If our first priority it to be a support to the church’s mission statement, then we must be willing to put our money where our mouth is.  When reaching the community is the goal, VBS may be the right place to put extra funds, allowing more children to attend.  An area with a lot of troubled youth, may need extra funds so they can have a scholarship fund for upcoming events and trips. I’d rather see money heading out into the community to feed the homeless than a brand new set of centerpieces for the next Women’s Brunch.

Budget is a tough subject, and I believe Women’s Ministry needs to be flexible and willing to work within the budget it does have.  Additionally, I believe the church needs to be flexible in allowing the Women’s Ministry to fundraise for the budget it does not have.

Some things to consider when fundraising:

*  You are not the only ministry. — It’s important to remember that you are not the only ministry that needs funds to exist.  Keep your fundraisers spaced out, and limited to just a few per year. 

*  Keep in mind who attends your church.  — If you are a church that is in a low income area, your members may be struggling just to tithe.  A fundraiser may be too much pressure.  We never want our fundraising event to take funds from the needs of the church.

*  Fundraisers cost something.  — There is no such thing as a free fundraiser.  It’s going to cost you something, most often that is time or money.  Planning a large event that requires a lot of volunteers may be difficult.  Fundraisers where you sell goods often require upfront purchases and the ministry is left covering the cost of unsold goods.  If you sell goods through a fundraising program, remember you are only getting a small portion of that sale.

Successful Fundraising Tips:

  • Take an Event Offering ~ a simple basket on each table at a Brunch or passed around at an event, can be a great way to build up a nest egg.  Women will usually give a few dollars each, but it’s a start and you can build upon it.
  • Charge for the Event ~ a small per person charge for events can cover the expense of the event, add just $1-$2 on top of that and you can use those funds to build up your budget.
  • Sell Everyday Goods or Services ~ have you ever had your child come home with a catalog fundraising for school, and there is just nothing in there that you “need” but you feel obligated to buy?  It ends up in the trash, or stuffed in a closet somewhere.  Some of the best fundraisers are when we are selling items people are already using.  Selling fresh ground coffee or Christmas Trees can be a great fundraiser.  Or, work with a local photographer for a Spring Family Portrait package.
  • Sell Donated Goods ~ A rummage sale is a great way to resell used goods and bring money into a ministry.  Have a plant sale, where local nurseries can donate the plants in exchange for advertisement and the proceeds go to the ministry.
  • Sell Space ~ Church Craft Fairs are always a great way to raise funds, your vendors purchase their table space.  In some cases the ministry may ask for a percentage of the sale, but I think charging for the space is enough.  This allows the event to be a blessing to the ministry and the vendors.
  • Raffles and Silent Auctions ~ Donated or discounted goods can be bundled together to make an excellent fundraising event on their own.  Work together with other ministries and share the funds you raise.
If you are going to work with a fundraising company that has higher priced items, choose ones where you take the orders instead of committing to sell a certain number of items.  For example, if you wanted to sell Poinsettias at Christmas, don’t pre-purchase (or place a deposit)  two hundred plants and truck them to the church with the hope to sell them all.  Take orders, pick up on the ones that were paid for, and now you are not left with too many unsold plants to find homes for or a commitment to pay for what was unsold.
Try to avoid catalog fundraisers that are already popular in your area.  If all of the schools are selling coupon books for local stores, trying to sell them as a ministry is not going to be nearly as successful.
Consider fundraising off season.  Schools will often sell wrapping paper or small gift items in the Winter, and candy in the spring for Easter.  A summer fundraiser is a time you’ll have little competition with schools.
If you are looking for donations for an event, start asking early.  Most companies are allotted  a specific amount of money per year to donate (in cash or goods).  If you wait until November or December to request a donation, it may be too late.
These are just a few ideas and suggestions, the internet (and pinterest) has a slew more!
Before you fundraise for your ministry, be sure to speak with your overseeing Pastor about your fundraising plans.