Leadership Qualities

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When it comes to understanding our role as leaders, there are so many great books I could recommend.  But, let’s be cautious that we do not rely merely on the words of man to define what a Christian leaders should look/behave like.  What does God say?

When you are leading a group of people, from a pulpit or a seat on the ministry team; consider the following:

1 Timothy 3:1-7

  • It’s a noble task.   (Don’t take your position lightly.)
  • Be above reproach.
  • Spouse to one.
  • Sober minded.
  • Self Controlled.  (That’s a fruit of the Spirit.)
  • Respectable.
  • Hospitable.
  • Able to Teach.
  • Not a Drunkard.
  • Not violent, but gentle.  (Another fruit of the Spirit, gentleness.)
  • Not quarrelsome.
  • Not a lover of money.
  • Manage your household well.

Exodus 18:21

  • Able.
  • Fear God.
  • Trustworthy
  • Hate bribes.

Deuteronomy 1:13

  • Wise.
  • Understanding.
  • Experienced.

1 Timothy 3:8-13

  • Dignified.
  • Honest.
  • Not greedy.
  • Not addicted.
  • Blameless.
  • Faithful.  (Another fruit of the Spirit!)

As we come toward the last month of 2016, perhaps we should spend some time in the Word exploring these descriptions.  Ask the Lord to reveal areas you need to strength yourself in, make right any areas where you have slacked, ask for forgiveness where necessary.

We enter December with our hearts cast on the birth of Christ, who came to reconcile God’s people back unto Him.  A birth, life, and death foretold in the Old Testament that came to fruition in the New Testament.  Before Christ left to prepare His Father’s house for us, we were left with a charge.  Kingdom leaders that would go out and share the gospel, making disciples of the nations.  To lead in such a way, we must constantly be aware of our character, course correct when need be.

Head to the scriptures, do your own research on characteristics of Christian leaders.  Then test yourself.  Pray before you start, for open eyes, heart, and mind.  Pray through each verse you find, asking for the Spirit to convict your heart if this is an area you need to improve.  Pray at the end for the Lord to protect your role as leader, giving you wisdom… guidance…and discernment.

Finding Your Place, with Susan Williams

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Gena McCown:  I had the pleasure of connecting to Susan Williams through Leading and Loving It.  Recently Susan shared about a special event that her Women’s Ministry hosted that was centered around helping women find their place to plug in within the church.  I asked Susan if she’d be willing to share about this event with our group of leaders, and she graciously accepted!
First, let me tell just a bit about her.  Susan Williams and her husband Greg have served in worship ministry for over 20 years. She is a speaker, writer, and servant of Christ in her local church.
GM:   Susan, thank you for sharing this event with us.  What exactly was your role in this event? 
Susan Williams:  While I was the chairperson for the event, it was implemented by the women’s ministry team.  I was also the keynote speaker.
GM:  What did you call the event, and when did your ministry host the event?
SM:   The event was called Pizza & Possibilities and it was the kickoff event for our women’s ministry.  We held it on a Friday night in August, shortly after school started back for our community, from 6-9 pm. The event was advertised through church publications for approximately six weeks.  Two weeks leading up to the event, there was a promotional video about the event.  Women’s ministry team members were asked to provide desserts and the attenders were asked to pay $3 per person to cover the expense of the pizza, salad, iced tea, and childcare. 
GM:  Tell me about the promotional video, was this something you picked up from the internet or something you created in house?
SM:  The script for the promotional video was written by me.  The soundtrack for the video was a woman’s voice over instrumental music, with pictures of women from our church showing them in everyday activities.
GM:  Susan has given us permission to share the script she used for the promotional video for inspiration.  Thank you, Susan.
Do you ever look around and wonder where the “real” women are? You know – the women like you and me – the ones who are juggling too many plates (and feel like we’re dropping at least half of them!), the ones who yearn to be better wives/mothers/sisters/friends, the women who long for the bodies of our youth and long for the next piece of cake just as much (and the cake wins more often than not!), the ones who are striving to have a better relationship with Jesus and the people He has placed in our lives?
Take a look around you. Let your eyes scan the room for just a minute. Those “real” women are all around you at PVN! Women who have struggled with being “good enough” in life; women who have experienced real heartache, devastating loss, and challenges beyond your wildest dreams; women who have spent time on the mountain top and even more time trudging through the valley; women who know what it means to be totally dependent upon God for every single moment. We are sitting next to you, in front of you, behind you, and beside you. And we want to get to know you, too.
God created us to fellowship as a Body of Believers. He has given us a gift of community with one another as we go through life. We are all at different places in our journeys, in need of different kinds of encouragement. We all have encouragement to give as well. Our women’s ministry is made up of “real” women and we want you to join us! Come be a part of our next event, go ahead and put our fall retreat on your calendar, and make plans to be a part of this exciting time! You belong with us and we want to get to know you better. We are here to serve each other…together. Come find out what it means to be REAL with us – Redeemed, Esteemed, Adopted, Loved. We can’t wait to see you!
GM:  How did you set up your space for this kick off event?
SW:  Round tables were set up with brightly colored, plastic tablecloths, with 6-7 ladies per table. A long serving table was set for the food and a drink station was located nearby. Tables were “decorated” with small puzzles (we used puzzles from the dollar store), and this provided an activity for the ladies to engage in while waiting for the event to begin.
The women’s ministry coordinator served as the hostess for the evening, the Ladies’ Ensemble sang, and there was a keynote speaker.   The topic was “A Piece of the Puzzle”.
GM:  So, the puzzles are also significant to the theme, as they fit together.  Like members of the body, we fit together in our community.  Each person has a role and purpose, without all the pieces the puzzle is left incomplete.   How did you begin the evening?
SW:  We wanted to feature the various ministries of the church that were a part of the women’s ministry. The leaders of these ministries were asked to give a brief overview (5 minutes or less) of their ministry. These featured areas included the Tabitha Ministry (sewing dresses and shorts for children who attend a Christian school started by a partner church in Africa), the Prayer Ministry, Bible Study groups, a partnership with the local orphan home that allows our ladies to provide dinner and activities for the children, the Ladies’ Ensemble, and an overview of other ministries in which ladies could serve.
GM:  Susan, who was the keynote speaker, provided us with a synopsis of her topic.
“A Piece of the Puzzle”
God created each of us to be a unique piece of the puzzle that is the Body of Christ. Much like puzzle pieces, we have a distinct shape, a specific color pattern, and the ability to interlock with those around us. Paul speaks in his letters about how each of us is gifted to serve in different ways. He also talks about the need for each of us to do our part, thus edifying the Body.
It is important for us to find the place where we fit into the Body, so that we can serve effectively. We can do this by first finding out how we have been gifted. Spiritual gifts inventories and personality profiles can help with this! Once we know what our gifts are, we can seek ways to use them. But knowing our gifts isn’t enough! Much like puzzle pieces, we cannot be forced into a spot where we do not “fit.” Sometimes, it takes a number of tries before we find the “right” fit for us. Each church is unique, so it is possible that the spot where we fit in our last church isn’t the best fit for us in the new church. Maybe the role we want to have is currently filled, or not even a current role. Sometimes we may get into a position and find out that we don’t fit well with those around us.
Finding your place isn’t an exact science and very rarely happens easily or on the first try! As individuals, we must persevere until we find where God wants to use us. As a group, we must help others to find their place. Like pieces of a puzzle, those of us who are already connected must have open sections to receive others who need to fit in. Some of us serve as the “structure” – the outer edges that give shape. Others of us have unique patterns that display the picture that God is painting. Still others serve as background – we fill a hole or show a subtle variation in the art. And some of us are shaped in such a way that we know we are there to fit in one, and only one, specific place.
So don’t give up! It may take trying several places before you find your “fit,” but EVERYONE fits somewhere in the Body of Christ! Three things we can do to find our place: PRAY, PERSEVERE, PLUG IN!
GM:  I am so grateful for Susan’s willingness to share this event idea with us.  Sometimes, as leaders, we forget that there are women who want to serve or who are looking for the place they fit in the church.  These women may be waiting for someone to invite them to serve, since they don’t know what ministries exist in the church or which ones are in need of additional help.  By having an event that introduces women in the church to ministries where they can serve, we help facilitate a connection between person and place to serve.  A woman may also even be inspired to start a new ministry, should she see that we have a “hole” in the areas we are serving.  Thank you so much, Susan!
SW:  Thank you for asking!

How Do you Thank Your Team?

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I am always thankful for those who serve alongside me.  When they accomplish a task or pitch in when the going gets tough, I’m always certain to say thank you at the moment.  But, I think it is also important to recognize these women in a more tangible way.

Thanksgiving is coming up and then we will be in the full swing of Christmas.  Chances are you are having some sort of women’s event with either a Thanksgiving or Christmas theme, what a perfect time to publically recognize the women who have spent the year working hard to serve the women of the church.   A small trinket, devotion book, or even a small denomination gift cards is always appreciated.

There are other ways you can show the women you serve with that you appreciate them and recognize their efforts.  You may not even realize how much it means to them to receive some of these ideas.  Prayerfully consider how you can make a point to show appreciation all year long.

  • Order your team members official name tags w/ their position (if applicable) to wear at events.
  • If ministry budget allots, pay for your team members rooms or registrations for women’s conferences.  If funds are limited, see if you can pay for a room upgrade or a special gift basket to be left in their room upon arrival.
  • Take the women out to a special brunch for fellowship and bonding, no business!  You can do this all at one time with the entire team, or one woman at a time to get to know her better.
  • Give small gifts that are personalized to each woman’s personality/gifts letting her know that you see who she is versus getting every one on the team duplicate gifts.
  • Register the team for a special leadership conference, or even hire a speaker to come in and invest in their leadership skills.  Or, plan your own leadership retreat.
  • Plan a spa retreat day, mani pedi day, or craft day for the team.
  • Write a letter to each team member sharing how much she means to you and has blessed the team with her gifts.
  • Remember her birthday or the anniversary of her serving on the team, and celebrate it with a card or flowers.
  • If you have an area where you display Women’s Ministry event information, make sure to include a list of who the team members are.
  • Pray for the women specifically, and let them know you have prayed for them by dropping a card in the mail.
  • Make sure to schedule periods of rest for the team, especially have taxing events.  Giving the gift of rest recognizes how hard they worked, as well as your appreciation for a job well done.

Ministry Spotlight: Embrace Grace

 

 

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The Women’s Ministry Council desires to connect our ministry leaders with opportunities to better serve their church and community of women.   Among our communities are a tender group of young women who find themselves in an unexpected pregnancy.  Some will be fortunate to have a family that will walk alongside them, but for many others it can be a very lonely journey.  We believe the church can be doing a better job ministering to the hearts of our single mothers.  This is why we are fans of the ministry Embrace Grace

We encourage you to watch through these videos, visit the Embrace Grace website, and then prayerfully consider if this is an ministry that your church or Women’s Ministry can provide in your community.  If the Lord is leading you to Embrace Grace and embrace these young fragile mothers, you can request more information on starting a group via their site.

 

 

 

 

Ministering to Women – Part 3

For those who were unable to attend the Mentoring and Ministering training event, we are ending our recap from our speakers.  Today, we are going to share some of Aimee Nelson’s talking points about ministering to our mothers of unexpected pregnancies.  Aimee is a Senior Pastor’s wife, speaker, author, and founder of YouMom YouMom is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed for the purpose of providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young girls who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy

It is incredibly important for us, the leaders of the Women’s Ministry Council, to not only work on providing quality training for Women’s Ministry leaders and their team members; but also connect them to resources and encourage how their ministries will impact our community.  Therefore we ended this year, and will be focusing the better part of next year on intentional discipleship.   When Jenny Andrews spoke the group, she hit a very key point… mentoring is an intentional act.  As leaders we need to be positioning seasoned women in our churches into positions where they can mentor the new believers.  However, our reach doesn’t stop there.

I can’t think of a single church that hasn’t been impacted by an unexpected pregnancy.  The truth is that every single Christian church was founded on the ministry of a baby born unexpectedly.  When Aimee Nelson shared her heart for women who face unexpected pregnancies, she said two things that jumped out at me and I keep finding myself returning to.

  1.  When Mary found out she was pregnant, she went to her cousin Elizabeth.  Mary had a woman who would walk alongside her in this pregnancy.  She didn’t go this journey alone.
  2. We must not forget that teen moms are not the only unexpected pregnancies that will happen in our church.  Think of that mom, with adult children, who finds out she is pregnant.  Married or not, this too is an unexpected pregnancy and she will need women to walk alongside her.  A lot may have changed in the world since she was last parenting a baby.

Aimee Neslon didn’t waste one second to get right to the point, when she posed this question:

We would all agree that mentoring is necessary and pertinent, and in most churches we do it well.  However, I want to pose a question.  If a teen mother walked into your church, would there be a place for her to go and be ministered to?

Aimee Nelson, Founder of YouMom

Aimee pointed out that churches have conveyed strong messages about not having an abortion, and celebrating those who walk away from the abortion clinic. Yet, she hit us all right in the heart when she asked who from the church was going to walk alongside her now that she has chosen life?  Strongly encouraging us to see this as an opportunity to share the love of Christ.

“On her Facebook Page, Aimee referred to these young mothers as the “Modern Day Widows” and that has struck a cord for me.   These are young women who, regardless of the reason, are left alone to raise their children without a spouse at their side.  If we are called in the scripture to help the widow, the orphan, and the alien… it includes our teen and single mothers”

Gena McCown

Aimee shared about the work her ministry, YouMom, does within their community.  This includes and intentional mentoring program where the mothers earn “bucks” to spend in their “store”.  The community supplies things from diapers, clothes, formula, etc. for the “store” and the women can spend the “bucks” they earn by attending mentoring sessions and group meetings.  These meetings cover prenatal counseling and birth coaching through helping the moms after the babies have been born.  Mixed in with the practical mothering advice, these young moms are introduced to Jesus.  They have celebrated many of these girls accepting Christ into their lives and being baptized.  Aimee’s group is creating a legacy in her community.

A few months ago, I met a woman who shared the following story with me.  She had been invited as a teen to attend youth group with one of her Christian friends.  Her family didn’t attend church and she enjoyed the youth group and fellowship.  Then, she found out she was pregnant.  Afraid that she would set a bad example for the other teens, the Youth Pastor asked her not to return.  She walked her pregnancy alone, and became a teen mom.  A few months after her child was born, tragically the baby died.  She not only had to endure the pregnancy alone, but also her grief and mourning.  When the church eventually learned what happened, suddenly they wanted to rally around her.  She declined their offer and has never stepped foot in a church again. 

We need to do better as a church, and the Women’s Ministry can be a driving force in making this happen.  We can reach out to our single moms in the church and in the community, in a positive and helpful way. 

There were seven specific things that Aimee shared that we can do as a Women’s Ministry, and church, as we come up along side these young moms.  We are going to highlight these points.  If you would like more information, I would encourage you to reach out to Aimee Nelson via YouMom or find her on Facebook.

  1. Acceptance – They need to know that they are welcomed and loved. 
  2. Affirmation – We can affirm her, as we affirm the choice she made FOR LIFE.
  3. Accountability – Connect her to a mentor, to help her set and accomplish goals.
  4. Respect – Teen pregnancy often results in the girl being disrespected by friends, family, and strangers.  When she is shown respect, it solidifies her choice of life was the right one.
  5. Support – She is under a load of stress and emotions, she needs to know she’s not walking alone.
  6. Grace & Compassion – When she realizes she deserves grace, she will not only extend it to others but will begin to walk in that grace.
  7. Knowledge that Her Life Is Not Over –  Teen moms often feel that their dreams are over because of the pregnancy (education, career, marriage, etc).  She needs to know that this too is now a season of her life, and there is more ahead.  Remind her of her value and worth, and that God is a redeeming God.

How can our Women’s Minsitries create this space?  Aimee suggests the following:

Pray, and ask God to open your eyes.  Are there any teen moms in your church or in your community?  What are their needs?  Do we have valuable resources that might assist them?  Pray over what your church can do (starting a support group, financially supporting a community support group, collecting goods for a pregnancy closet, volunteering at a pregnancy crisis center).  Pray for these girls, their babies, and that they will see their value in God.

Be an advocate for these girls.  When you see someone speaking down to them, be a voice and stand up for them.  Proverbs 31:7-8 says, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  And, Psalm 82:3-4 reads “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and destitute.  Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Aimee Nelson, YouMom

Aimee closed by reminding us that one girl’s yes, 2000 years ago, changed the universe.  What could your yes change?  When the church partners together and we walk alongside a young woman, we are letting her know that hope is in front of her.   We empower and equip her, having an impact on two lives at one time.

Mentoring Women – Part 2

For those who were unable to attend the Mentoring and Ministering training event, we’d love to recap some highlights from our speakers.  Today, we are going to share some of Jenny Andrew’s talking points about intentional mentoring.  Jenny Andrews was mentored under the One to One Discipling materials when she first became a Christian.  For nearly five years she has been mentoring others under that same curriculum.

Mentoring needs to intentional.

  • Sometimes we assume that people naturally understand what we mean when we give them instructions.   Jenny sited an example of instructing her toddler son on a task, only to find him in a hysterical predicament.  She assumed he understood his instructions, but since no one had ever taught him a particular term… well, he used his toddler logic to fill the gap.  We teach them, because we love them.
  • When we start a new job, we don’t show up on the first day understanding everything expected of us.  We require training and time.  Someone had to show us how to do the job.   Someone was intentional in teaching you, whether out of love or because they were paid to.
  • Jesus intentionally pour into his disciples, and the people He would encounter.  Jenny shared with us the scripture, Luke 6:12-16.  Jesus selected Judas Iscariot as a disciple, even though He knew that Judas would betray Him.  Jesus still poured into Judas, teaching him and guiding him.

I really thought this was a fantastic point, that Christ knew that Judas would ultimately betray Him… and yet that didn’t stop Jesus from investing in Judas.  Especially in Women’s Ministry, we can be hurt by the women we serve along with.  A friend once said “even sheep will bite”.  If Jesus can love and invest in Judas, then I can serve or serve alongside those who may have hurt me.  This doesn’t mean we become doormats, it is healthy to establish boundaries, we can love and pray for them from a safe distance. 

Jenny Andrews continued, by sharing that it isn’t enough to see the example made by Jesus, but that we need to put that into practice too.  If we are to be Christ-like, we must do Christ-like things.   We start in prayer and then more forward into intentional disciple making.

I felt the need to share with others about the One to One Program because I went through it myself and it taught me a lot.  The One to One Discipling ministry that I co-lead at my church has ministered to at least 100 women in the last 5 years since it started.

Jenny Andrews, Connect Church

Jenny co-leads a team that averages fifteen mentors at any given time, and each mentor will have just a small handful of women they mentor to.  Using the One to One Discipling program, these mentors use the materials with sixth graders on up.  Jenny shared that they adjust the materials to the specific dynamics of their church and the ages they are mentoring.  Which means the curriculum allows flexibility.  The program is designed for nine weeks, but you can adjust it to the frequency that your mentors and mentees have available.  In some cases, women have chosen to go through the materials repetitively.
Every time I do it, I learn something new.
Jenny Andrews, Connect Church
Their mentoring program is used for mature women who want a deeper understanding of the scriptures, or for newly baptized women.  The goal is to create solid believers who have a basic understanding of the faith, using scripturally based materials.  While it may seem intimidating, a structured curriculum like this makes it possible for any of us to mentor another woman.  We are not walking through it alone, either.  We are all in this together.
What if each woman here took on one women in our church’s and being to
pour into them what we know?  We would have solid believing Christian
women because we believed in them.
Jenny Andrews, Connect Church
Jenny left us with the follow challenge:
Can I encourage you to set a goal whether you use this tool or another to be intentional on mentoring at least one woman this year?  Ladies, we are in
this together.  We need women who will mentor us in new areas and season
of our lives.  We also need to be those women.
Jenny Andrews, Connect Church

You can connect with Jenny Andrews via her Facebook page or Blog, or at an upcoming Women’s Ministry Council meeting.  Thank you Jenny, for sharing your heart for mentoring.  We are blessed by your words and challenged as leaders to be intentional!

Monday, we will finish up our recap with speaker Aimee Nelson.

Mentoring & Ministering to Women

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Mentoring & Ministering to Women, Part 1 by Gena McCown

This Saturday, twenty five women’s ministry leaders attended a special training event on Mentoring and Ministering to women.  Author Gloria Furman once defined “Women’s Ministry” as any act of ministering to the needs of women.  Each church is comprised of women with a variety of needs, and areas where we can serve, leaving no two ministries identical.  Yet, the methodology is the same.  We are women who are rooted in scripture, dedicated to prayer, faithfully living out our calling to build a Women’s Ministry that is gospel centered and disciple making.

Later this week, in Part 2 of this series, we are going to recap some of the speakers points and talk a little more in depth about mentoring and discipling of women.  However, today I would like to share our gratitude with the supporters who walk alongside of the work we are doing here in S. Florida.  We couldn’t do this without their support and prayers.  If you attended, we’d love for you to give some social media love.  If you didn’t get to attend, check out these great resources!

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First, we’d like to thank NavPress for their donation of “The Gentle Art of Discipling Women” by Dana Yeakley.   Discipleship needs to be an intentional focus for Women’s Ministry, and each our leaders in attendance received a copy to share with her ministry team.

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When discipling women, it is great to have a reference resource to help navigate through questions we may not have all the answers for.  FaithWords donated a copy of “ABC’s of Christianity” by Terdema Ussery for each Women’s Ministry Leader in attendance.

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If you are looking for a straightforward structured system for discipline, check out Multiplication Ministries mentoring curriculum, “One to One Discipling for Women”.  They also have a version for men.  Our speaker, Jenny Andrews, spoke on her experiences with the materials and how they have incorporated them into their church.  (We’ll cover this a bit more in part 2).   Ten ministry leaders brought home a copy of “One to One Discipling for Women”.

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For those look for a less structured mentoring program, you may want to look at “Organic Mentoring” by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann.  Eight of our ministry leaders received a copy of this book at our event, but all of our women can read the first three chapters on our Facebook page.  Thanks Kregel Publications!

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Quite often when we talk about mentoring, we think of the scriptures in Titus 2.  Crossway Publishers donated two copies of “Spiritual Mothering:  The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women” by Susan Hunt.  Crossway also sent a sample chapter of “Parenting” by Paul David Tripp for each woman in attendance.  Mentoring and discipling isn’t just limited to those who attend our Women’s Ministry events, but most importantly our own children.

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Finally, we were able to connect our Women’s Ministry Leaders to a great ministry “Embrace Grace”.  This ministry reaches out to our unexpected mothers to be, giving them encouragement, support, and most of all Jesus!  We already have one local church who has started an “Embrace Grace” group, and Lord knows we could use more in our area and throughout the country.  Each leader went home with a complete information pack on how they could bring Embrace Grace to their church and community.

Thank you so much for your generosity, prayers, and support.