Leadership Should Not Be Lonely

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When you read through the scriptures, you will see that the leaders were hardly ever alone.  When Moses was called to lead, he had his brother by his side.  King David had people that he relied on for counsel.  Jesus had his disciples.  Paul had people who traveled with him, as well as leaders that he left behind in cities to lead the local church.  Paul wasn’t even alone in prison!  When the apostles would travel to share the gospel, they often set out in pairs or small numbers.  Plus, they always had each other lean back on, no matter where they were in the world. Advice was a letter away.  When it was time to tackle bigger subjects, they would meet together as a group to discuss the matters at hand.

It’s a common clichéd phrase in America to say that “it’s lonely at the top” or “leadership is lonely”.  As leaders we need to recognize that God never intended our leaders to be lonely.  In a previous article it was already mentioned the importance of having your own Timothy in place, someone you are developing as another leader or your eventual replacement.  However, this relationships are not meant to be superficial training grounds.  Those that we bring into our inner circle to develop as leaders will often help mold and shape our leadership too.  We learn just as much from their experiences as they do from our own.  Developing leaders will ask questions that we may have never considered on our own, or see things from a different perspective.

As much knowledge as I have about Women’s Ministry from experience coupled with books and research…

… I still don’t know everything. I have not encountered every possible scenario and even now I have some thoughts lingering in my head about how to handle certain circumstances should they arise.

Having a “Women’s Ministry Council” of leaders is part of how we can begin to fill those gaps in experience, knowledge, and wisdom.  Each leader is her own treasure trove of information to glean from.  Some WM Leaders are Pastor’s wives, who can give us insight to how Pastors view Women’s Ministry, or ministries in general.  They can give us an inside out view of the life of the Pastor in the church, the pressures he faces, and the parameters staff make decision within.

When we gather with other Women’s Ministry leaders, we have an opportunity to offer others our experience, and take in the experience of others.   As one leader just mentioned in our Facebook Group, we don’t need to reinvent a new wheel.  We just need help in finding the wheel that fits our group best.  We can pick and choose from the advice given and experiences shared, using those tidbits to shape our ministry’s future.  And, we can discard the things that don’t really apply to our needs.

We have a group of people whom we can share our successes with, and help them foster new ideas for their ministry.  And, we have a group of women who we can lean on for support when we are simply at a loss on how to grow our ministry.

Resources are more than books and websites, our best resources are the other leaders we are serving alongside with in our own communities.  Facebook groups and international websites have a lot to offer us in terms of general information.  However no one knows what it is like to serve THIS community, than those women who are in the trenches with you.

Every day, we gain more visitors to our website from other areas of the United States and beyond.  What we are doing here, in our South Florida location, is creating a program that we want to be duplicated in other regions.  By 2017, I am praying that all of our kinks have been worked out and that we will be able to put together a plan for Women’s Ministry Councils across the country.  Please keep our work in your prayers, that the Lord will guide this endeavor.  The blessing it has been for us, should not be contained to South Florida.

Women’s Ministry needs a leadership community!

Special Thanks, We Can’t Do This Alone!

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We know that resources can be hard to come by, and that many Women’s Ministries work of a shoe string budget (if at all).  One our goals, in developing the Women’s Ministry Council was to have training events that were free of charge.  This isn’t easy, but we knew it was important.  However, we also wanted to get resources into the hands of our churches who desperately need it.

There are not enough words to express how grateful we are to our event sponsors.  Each event to date, has been blessed by gifts for each woman in attendance and prizes that we draw names for.  Churches and leaders have been blessed with Bible Study Leader Kits, Retreat Kits, and books for leadership and ministry development.

The following slide show is from our recent Branding and Building Training event.  Thank you to Group Publishing, Moody Publishers, Crossway, WomensMinistry.net, and Authentic Intimacy for your amazing donations!

We truly could not do this without you!

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Be a Presence in Your Community

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Years ago, my Pastor made a point to our congregation on what kind of impact he wanted our church to make on our community.  He said that if our doors had to shut today, he would want our community to miss us tomorrow.  There are churches and ministries that open and close all of the time, but how often does their absence go noticed?  Does the community even notice they are gone?

Just last year, a friend and her family began to faithfully respond to the call toward International Missions.  They gathered a group of local friends together to organize a fundraising event.  A location was picked, local businesses rented booth space or sponsored the food and games areas.  They reached out to the local churches and asked if their worship band would be willing to donate time, playing just a set of music during the day.  In exchange the church could set up a tent and hand out information about their church to people from the community who passed through.  What an amazing opportunity to 1) support missions work, 2) network with other churches, and 3) introduce themselves to the people in the community who may not have a church home.

ONE church responded.  One out of HUNDREDS.  I was shocked.  You’ll be happy to know The Women’s Ministry Council was there.

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So, let me turn the question on to your ministry… how does your ministry present itself to the community?  Are you interested in serving your church only?  Or would you be willing to step out into the community and support another ministry, that is not your own?  What holds you back?

When a local church hosts a simulcast event for a well known speaker, why are we not carpooling our women to these events?  Or, at minimum, promoting it to our women?  Are we afraid to lose our women to another church?  Is our calendar too full, not providing enough room for divine appointments to come along our way?  When the community needs us, are we too busy to step out and say…  “Here we are, how can we help?”

Women’s Ministry is an amazing opportunity to not only serve the women in our own churches, but other churches and the community at large.  Big churches can come along side small churches, welcoming them into our Women’s Ministry events.  We can make space for the churches who lack the space.  Churches that have been blessed with resources, like Women’s Bible Studies, can share resources with those who lack.  Small ministries can band together, serving long side each other and sharing the load.  All of us, ministries of any size, can work together in serving our community.

What if?

  • What if all of our women’s ministries grouped up for a Habitat For Humanity building project?
  • What if all of our women’s ministries alternated weeks, providing meals to Molly’s House in Stuart?
  • What if all of our ministries came together to make blessing bags for the homeless?
  • What if all of our ministries fellowshipped together at local park, praying for our county?

What… if….

Part 2, Branding & Building

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The following is the continuation of our ministry training event recap, on Branding and Building your Women’s Ministry

Building Your Women’s Ministry

Building Your Vision:

  • What is the Vision of the Church?  The Women’s Ministry’s first goal and responsibility is to support the vision of the church.  A good Pastor is going to lead the church in accordance to the calling the Lord has burdened his heart with.  Will this be a missional church, an equipping church, discipleship and growth church?  As Women’s Ministry leaders we need to consult with the Pastor and get a better understanding of the vision and direction of the church. 
  • How does the Women’s Minsitry Support this Vision?  For too long Women’s Ministry has been functioning independently of the church.  We need be part of the fold, vision, and calling that is on the church by figuring out how we support that vision.  If the church is about missions in the local community or abroad, what can the Women’s Ministry do to support that vision?  Or, if you are a church that is focused on mentoring and discipleship to equip future leaders… how does the Women’s Ministry fit in that vision?
  • What does the Women’s Minsitry to Meet this Goal?  What types of materials or resources will the Women’s Minsitry need to develop a program that supports the church vision?  Who do you need, as the Women’s Ministry leader, on your team to help execute these goals and programs?  What is your plan of action?  Space, funds, team members, volunteers, and contacts are all areas to be explored.

Building the Women’s Ministry Team:

  • Build Balance:  Depending on the size of your church and how active of a Women’s Ministry you may have,  finding the right number of team members will vary from church to church.  You do not want to have too few, because that will lead to burn out.  Too few people doing too much work, steals time away from our families and other priorities.  Balance is key.  However, if you have too many women, there are too many cooks in the kitchen.  When you have more people serving than ways to serve, chaos and competition can creep up.  Or, you may find that the more vocal team members volunteer for all of the tasks and a number of women show up at the meetings… sitting and silence, unsure where they fit in.
  • Build a Foundation of Order & Structure:  One thing we can note throughout scripture is that when God is appointing leaders, He is attempting to restore order.  Those He calls are given certain roles and responsibilities in their service.  If we are going to build a team of women to walk with us in this ministry service, they need to know how they fit into the picture.  Whether you choose a more formal appointment of positions (leader, historian, treasurer, etc) or instead determine leaders by particular tasks/roles (Bible Study Organizer, Fellowship Coordintor, etc) order helps create a smooth and efficient team. Meetings will move along faster and with fewer hiccups when everyone knows what they are responsible for.
  • Build a Diverse Team:  Try to avoid building up a Women’s Minsitry team that looks just like you!  Otherwise, you end up with a Women’s Ministry team that only does the things you are interested in.  We need to see a variety of ages, stages, and ethnicities.    If you want younger women in the church to plug into the Women’s Ministry, you need to add one to your team.  If you want to understand how to best serve the women of color in your church or neighborhood, seek those women out for your leadership team.  If you want to serve the single mothers in your church, inviting one to serve on the team is your best option.  With a variety of women, you will create a ministry with a variety of events and activities.  You can’t please all of the people, all of the time.  But with variety, you can please some of the people… some of the time.
  • Build Future Leaders:  Your very first job as a Women’s Minsitry leader is to find your replacement.  Paul, had Timothy.  Find your Timothy and from the onset begin investing in this future leader.  Include them in the behind the scenes process.  Let this woman lead a meeting every now and again, or head up a larger project.  Help her foster a relationship with the church staff members, too.  Remember that you are not trying to mold her into a copy of you, but equip her to lead as God will call her to.  One thing any experienced ministry leader will tell you is that God seldomly keeps us in the same place forever.  We may get called to a new ministry, or move to a new area.  Or, we may need to take a time off to minister to our family in crisis.  We need leaders who can pick up the reins and lead.  An effective leader should be able to take a leave of absence or step down, and the team should continue to function as if she never left.

Building Ministry Momentum:

  • Every ministry event should have a direction, that meets the vision of the church.  When we have met with the Pastor, built our team, we can develop our ministry vision.  Whether you are using a catch phrase, piece of scripture, or a few select words… you now have a litmus test for all of your ministry plans.  Don’t waste time on events that won’t support the vision of the church, invest time and efforts into those which do.   This doesn’t mean you can’t have brunches and retreats, but instead it means to have an intentionl purpose for that retreat.  If small groups are important, use your brunches to launch the small groups to the body of women.  If you are having a ladies night at a local ceramics studio, include a devotion as part of the evening’s schedule. 
  • Every ministry event should have an opportunity, to bond the body and welcome new faces.  When we have a mixture of activies in the women’s minsitry we create a program where seasoned believers can deepen their knowledge and relationship with Christ, and lighter events for our guests and new faces to plug in without feeling intimidation.  Events that are warm and inviting, provide bridges between the community and the church.  Events or programs that call us to deeper study or understanding, provide growth and development opportunities.  Just as we seek to intentionally balance the women serving on our team, we must intentionally balance the activities we offer to the body and to the community.  Let’s never be so inwardly focused on serving the women who attend our church, that we fail to create a welcoming environment for the women in our community.
  • Every ministry event should have a purpose, one that will point women to the Gospel, Christ, and to the church.  Today’s women are less interested in learning how to sew quilts and put together stunning floral arrangements.  The ones who are plugging into minsitry are doing so because they seek authentic fellowship and deeper knowledge of their faith.  They want to understand the scriptures more, they want to have the hard conversations, and they want to be challenged.  When our events are intentionally purposed toward connecting women in the church, we are helping these women build up a circle of godly women they can rely on.  We are building a community of women who will rally around each other, where iron will sharpen iron.  When our events are intentionlly purposed toward the Gospel and Christ, we are connecting women to Christ … for the first time, or for a deeper relationship.  We begin to connect new believers with seasoned believers, and thus we begin building up women for gospel centered conversations out in the community.  It is where we engage, encourage, and equip.

Some final thoughts…

Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in senseless details.  It’s okay to start small, and build up.  Keep things simple, duplicatable, and accessible so that your events don’t burn out your team, funds, or resources.  Think outside the box when you are facing limitations on funds, resources, or space.   And, never assume what you women will like or not.  If you are bathing these decisions in prayer , as well as keeping them in line with the vision of the church… then God will bring exactly who He wants to each event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Branding & Building Workshop

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If you were unable to attend our Women’s Ministry network and training event on Saturday, here is a little recap of the training you missed.  This information will be in two installments, beginning with BRANDING YOUR MINISTRY.    Look for future support articles and resources on this topic as well.

Branding Your Ministry:

  • Branding is how we create short visual and verbal explanation of who we are and what we do.
  • Branding helps us communicate information quickly and efficiently.
  • Branding will assist your team members in remaining focused on your ministry purpose.

Visual branding gives us an image or logo that is easily identifiable.  When scanning the church bulletin or website, your image will catch the attention of the women in your church to your upcoming events or announcements.

Combining visual branding and a few key words, will ensure that your guests will know who you are, where you are located, and what you are doing.  consider a simple business card.  If you only had that much space available, and you wanted it to be visually pleasing, what information would you make sure to include?

The selection of these few key words, which may be bullet points – a mission statement – or a piece of scripture, will create a litmus test for your team.  If every event or program is tested against the “brand”, you can decide which elements should be invested in and which should be passed on.

Common Mistakes in Branding:

  • Avoid continually rebranding the ministry.  Sometimes when a ministry takes on new leadership there is a strange need to rebrand the ministry.  It’s the new leaders way to indicate that change is on the horizon.  However, when we change the name of our minsitry we take a risk of losing those who identify the ministry to the old name. 
  • Avoid complex designs, trendy names, or unfamiliar acronyms.  If your ministry identity is not easily understood, women are going to pass right by it.  Complex designs will not always translate well into various types media, or can cost a fortune in printing costs.  Trendy names will eventually date themselves and require change to stay relevent.  Just because a term or acronym is familiar to seasoned Christians, it won’t be obvious to new guests or in the community.  We shouldn’t live under an assumption every one will “get it” because it seems obvious to us.    Who wants to go to your local HAGS meeting?  Even if it does mean Holy and Glorious Sisters…
  • Avoid using names that will date your ministry, or make it appear to focus on certain ages or stages of life.  Your ministry is going to speak for itself, if you think giving it a younger sounding name is going to bring in younger women… you will be disappointed.  Or worse, you may allienate your older women.

Successful Branding Strategies:

  • Use What You Have!  If your church has already invested in having a logo/branding package designed, see if you can have the words “Women’s Ministry” (or whatever your ministry name is) added to it.  It will cost you less than starting from scratch, and will be professionally done. You can even ask to feminize it with the simple change of a color or visual element.
  • Know Who You Are!  What is your ministry purpose or goal?  What is the vision of the church and how does the Women’s Ministry fit into that vision?  The answer to these questions can help you design your logo or come up with that catch phrase.
  • Keep It Simple!  Clean and simple designs with core information is best.  Easy to remember names and catch phrases will be helpful.  Ministry name, who the ministry serves, and where the ministry is located will be your most valuble information.  Have a Women’s Ministry page set up on your church website or start one on your own through a free site (like wordpress), or even a Facebook group.  Then your print materials can point women to these resources where they can get more detailed information about the church and your ministry.
  • Know Your Audience!  Where and how you are going to use your branding is important.  If your Women’s Ministry is purely focused on building up the women in your church, you don’t need as much of an explanation as you would for a ministry that is reaching out into the community.

 

When You Don’t Have Space for Women’s Ministry

settingup                                       We hold our Women’s Ministry Council Events at Panera!

When our church was in the midst of transitioning from our old building to our newly renovated building, we didn’t want to press pause on our Women’s Ministry events.  However, centerpieces were packed away, tables were being loaded and moved,  and the new building wasn’t quite ready to host any events.  This meant we had to put on our creative thinking caps.

This was a temporary problem for us, but small churches face this obstacle every month.  These churches want to have events but they lack the space or resources to do so.  Perhaps you are meeting in a shopping plaza, or your church doesn’t have a fellowship hall.  You may be one of the many churches that are meeting in public schools or movie theatres across the country.  What do you do when you want to have special fellowship events, yet you don’t have the building or space to hold one?

It’s time to think outside of the box.

During our transition period, we hosted two “brunches” that were not on our church the property.  The first we held at a local botanical garden, and suggested the women bring a packed lunch.  The garden let us use one of their pavilions for free, and gave our women a special entry discount for the day.  The second was held at a local Panera Bread, in their meeting space.  We were limited on the number of people who could attend, so it was a first come first serve basis.  However, for a small church, it would make a perfect venue.  For $75 in catering, the space was free to use for several hours.  We placed out simple $1 store vases with a few flowers for decorations.  Panera included cups, utensils, plates and napkins in the $75 order.   There was more than enough coffee and juice.  Many of the pastry and baked goods were cut in half, and they even included butter and cream cheese. The cost was so low, we didn’t even charge the women for attending.

These events were so successful, that just a few months later, we held another event at a local park.  Even though our building was ready, we recognized that these outside the church events were not only great options for us… but also to be present in our community.   Some of the women from our church have begun meeting for their bible studies in local cafes instead of our church adult ed rooms.  You can always have coffee and baked goods and have the women sit in the sanctuary instead of fancy table set ups.

There are many places in our communities that would make great alternative locations for your women’s events, whether you need the space or just want to be more visible in your community.  Not all of the events need to be brunches with speakers either.

We have a beautiful tea room near our church, where for $16-$20 a person you can get up to a five course meal.  Those prices are ordering off the menu during normal hours, and I’ve been there when local women’s groups have reserved a grouping of tables.  Just to break bread with each other and fellowship.  Or, you can reserve the whole place after normal hours and come up with a set menu for all guests to make the price more affordable.

Many local cafes will make boxed lunches for small groups, we have one locally that we’ve arranged special pricing with.   Even your local subway, panera, jimmy johns, and other sandwich shops will have boxed lunch specials.  Serve them at the church or take them to a local park or beach meet up.

Our Women’s Ministry has gone on a guided kayak tour, that stops for a bonfire, music, and testimony for just $20 a woman.  There are also local “painting” and “ceramic” studios you can reserve for private parties and average about $20 per woman.  Botanical Gardens, private residences (if you have someone with a large house or lives on acreage) can provide great picnic spaces.  The beach, local parks, and even local farms may be a perfect location for holding luncheons.

Also consider partnering up with a local church that has a vibrant Women’s Minsitry already in place, where you can bring your women to their events.  You would be surprised how many churches would be happy to include your church, even making sure to reserve enough table space that your women can all sit together.  Or, if they are using the space that day… they may let you use their building.  One thing I have learned over the years is that it never hurts to ask.

Finally, look for an independent women’s group you can become a part of.  In our county, we have Ladies of Legacy, and the women who attend come from many of the churches in the area.  The women are going to be excited about being able to fellowship in community with one another; location and decor are really a small blip to the bigger picture.

13 Signs People Are Excited to Attend Your Women’s Ministry

I was inspired to make this list based of the article 13 Signs People Are Excited to Attend Your Church.

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1. Women Bring Their Friends—The ultimate measurement of whether your people are excited to attend your Women’s Ministry events or not is whether or not they bring their friends.

2. The Driving Team—Are the women carpooling to the event?  This is evidence of connection and fellowship beyond the walls of the church.

3. The Line Formed to Enter the Building—If women arrive early, you know they are excited about the Women’s Ministry event.  Women arrive early to make sure they get a good seat.

4. The Greeters—Women who are not even on the team energetic and thrilled to be there, introducing themselves to new faces and helping get stuff done.

5. The Pre-Event Vibe—If you want to know if God is moving at any ministry, just describe for me the atmosphere in your building the 15 minutes before an event begins.  Is there energy in the room? What are the discussions about? Are people smiling and laughing? Is community being built?  And, even more so… was there anticipation leading up to the day of the event?

6. The Speakers Begin — Do the women immediate begin to quiet down and settle when the see the familiar faces of the women doing the introductions, speaking, or music?

7. The Response to the Music—If you are having worship music, are the women engaged or on their phones killing time?  Women who are excited to be there are only looking at their phones if they are looking for lyric prompts.

8. The Response to Scripture—Jesus is celebrated through the reading of His Word. There is spontaneous clapping or other affirmations while reading scripture.

9. The Response to the Message—Do you hear the women talking about the topic, presentation, or speaker after the event… even for days after the event?  Does it come up on Sunday?  And does the Pastor tell you that he’s heard good things?

10. Life Change—Are you seeing more women sign up for small groups, new faces on Sunday morning, and a deeper interest in building stronger relationship with Christ?  Are new habits being made that show an increased spiritual walk… like prayer, scripture study, etc.

 11. Women Walking to the Car—Women who had a great experience at your event…. will be slow in leaving the building, may even be found chatting in the parking lot after you lock the doors.  A great sign of community, fellowship, and communication!

12. Women Wanting More — Not every church has women’s events every week, or even every month.  If you have women who are asking for more, who want to know when the next event is… you are doing something right!  Keep doing it, and consider doing it more often.

13. And Most Important, It’s All About Jesus—Nothing creates excitement and expectation like continually focusing everything on the One who is worthy of all this excitement, Jesus.