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.