Reminder {Jan 7th is our next event!}

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By Gena McCown, Co-Founder, Women’s Ministry Council

Our next Women’s Ministry Council meeting is coming up on Jan 7th and almost all spots have been reserved.   RSVP HERE

Tonight we began packing up these amazing gift bags that will be gifted to the churches in attendance.   The Lord has blessed the work we are doing here on the Treasure Coast in equipping our Women’s Ministry leaders and teams.  This January will be slightly different as we are able to bless the women for their service and our communities as we equip our leaders with ways to serve.

Care & Community is something every Women’s Ministry needs to be considering, and in 2017 we can make a huge impact collectively.  If you are not local, I would encourage you to consider how your Women’s Ministry can reach outward in to the community.  How can your Women’s Ministries in the various churches come together as a unified body in helping our communities.

As usual, when our meeting is over, we will post the highlights of the trainings and speakers.  However, until that time, it can’t hurt to begin thinking on your own about the impact your church can have on your community.  What organizations can you come alongside; locally, nationally, and globally.  What is the call at the heart of your church’s mission and how can you support that mission calling?

We have collected a few great ministries and organizations we will also be sharing with you through the month of January, as well.  Look for a lot of great information coming you way.

Change in the Air {2017 is Coming}

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The year is coming to an end.  You have prayerfully considered whether or not the Lord is calling you to remain in Women’s Ministry.   As a team you have reviewed the past year’s successes and failures, and you have tapped into the women in your church for their opinions and perspectives.  The next step is to take all of that information and look forward to 2017.

Start with the Pastor

Before making any major changes or vision shifts in the ministry, this is a great time to check in with the Pastor(s).  If the WM goal is to be supportive of the church vision, consider that just as you may be exploring a vision shift … so may the church leaders.  The needs of our church and the community we serve may have changed over the last year.  The Lord may be pressing a new mission on the hearts of the leaders.

If the church mission isn’t changing or shifting, share with the Pastor what changes you may be considering.  Seeking his input will be helpful as you try to narrow the new vision.  Does this new direction fit within the mission of the church, does he support these potential changes or new direction, and questions along those lines will help you engage his support.

Don’t Forget Your Team

As the WM Leader, we spend quite a bit of time researching Women’s Ministry ideas and directing the team and volunteers.  We invest in our team as we develop their leadership skills, and in ourselves as we read books and look to leaders in our ministry field for inspiration.  When change is on the horizon, and the Lord is stirring something in us, it can be quite easy to internalize those thoughts.  However, even though we are the leader, we must not forget that we are part of the team.  When your team members feel left out of the process, changes catch them off guard, and they may question their value to the team.

Instead of walking into your normally scheduled WM team meeting and dropping a bombshell full of unexpected changes, bring the WM team into the fold.  Invite the team members into the process by including them in the early stages instead of waiting until you have made a slew of decisions.  At the onset, ask the team members to be praying with you about potential changes.  Need information?  Ask team members to help with the research or read books along with you.  Talk to other leaders about what has been working within their ministries.  Make the process a team effort and you will find the changes that results are exciting for the entire team, instead of surprising.  When the team is excited with you, it is a much easier to spread the excitement throughout the women in the church.

One Change at a Time

Most people are resistant to big changes.  The familiar becomes unfamiliar, the predictable becomes unpredictable, what they have always known becomes the unknown.  After the team has come to an agreement on what kind of changes the new year will bring, we should be careful to not implement all of the changes at one time.  Create a priority list of what changes can be made that won’t affect the body directly (such as team structure or position changes), followed by the program changes that are most important to least.  Take each change one at a time, allowing the women to acclimate to the change before adding in a new one.

Some changes are easier than others.  If you want to stop bringing in paid speakers and use the testimonies from the women in your church at your brunches, that is an easier shift.  If you have been holding brunches every month and you want to cut out brunches entirely, that would be a little harder.  In a change like this, it may be better to begin reducing the number over time than eliminating completely.   If you want to switch from packaged bible studies to leader led expository studies, there should be a process in place before making such a shift.  A plan that includes finding these leaders, helping develop their study and teaching skills, and the over time moving from one study style to another.

What is the Point of the Change

When you begin to remove aspects of your ministry program, what are you replacing it with?  This is not necessarily about quantity of programs and offerings, but can also take into consideration quality.  Having the ability to articulate the reason behind the changes to the women of the church will help transition through the changes more effectively.  When your team members not only understand and support the changes, they are part of the changes and will help defend those changes when criticism arises.

If you are lessening the number of small groups being offered, why?  Are you attempting to reestablish more intentional groups?  Are you going to implement a new group model that focuses more on mentoring?  If you are cutting out brunches, why?  Why does it need to be cut, and what is it being replaced with?  Are fellowship events being cut out completely or simply going in a new direction that would foster closer relationships?

I wouldn’t recommend making ministry changes without being able to explain the necessity of those changes.  The Lord will not prompt you to make a change without a reason.  Laura Masoner often reminds me that the Lord isn’t going to pull you away FROM without also pointing us in the direction of what He wants us to go TO.  Change for the sake of change isn’t really justifiable.  Change for the sake of improvement will always have a defense.

 

Survey Says {Women’s Ministry Success}

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Survey Says… {Women’s Ministry Success} by Gena McCown, Co-Founder

How do we determine that our ministry efforts are successful?   From a Biblical standpoint, there are some great litmus questions we can ask:

  • Have our events been Gospel Centered?
  • Are our programs Disciple Making?
  • Have we improved Bible Literacy in our women?
  • Has there been a growth in the Prayer Life of our women?
  • Do our events/programs fit within our Mission Statement/Verse?
From a practical standpoint, some other areas that we can look at are:
  • Attendance:  has there been an increase, decline, or no change in the number of women attending?
  • Faces:  are we serving the same women repeatedly, a revolving door of new faces, or a healthy mixture of returning regulars and new faces at each event?
  • Community:  do the women of our church invite their friends and family to our events, or are we only serving the women in our church?
  • Outreach:  how many outreach opportunities have we participated in as a ministry?
  • Event Types:  which of our events have the greatest attendance versus low attendance?
  • Bible Studies/Small Groups:  have we seen an increase of new small group leaders, small group attendances, or shift into more in-depth small group materials/studies?
  • Funding:  do we have a budget deficit or surplus?

Besides reviewing these two aspects of our ministry, we can also utlize surveys to help us understand our ministry results better.  There are 2 types of surveys you can use in your ministry work to tap into the thoughts of the women you serve.

Per Event Survey:
This is a short survey presented at the end of an event where the women can provide feed back on that specific event.   Surveys like this are great for when you have a guest speaker, a retreat or workshop, etc.  It provides insight into the particulars of the event, allowing you to see what the women valued most or how the speaker resonated with the women.  A highly praised speaker is one you would invite back, if they didn’t seem to care about the decorations you know that you can skimp on that next go around, if they didn’t like the location then you don’t return, etc.  I like to include a space for comments where women can share specific thoughts about that event/speaker that are not in the questions.  There are several event surveys on the internet via sites like pinterest, women’s ministry tool box, womensministry.net, etc that have downloadable surveys available.  Or, you can write your own.
End of Year Survey:
End of Year Surveys are a great way to get a general overview of the response to your ministry work.  You can not expect your women to remember every speaker you have hosted over the course of the year.  Grading individual speakers is better suited for the per event survey (I learned this the hard way).  End of Year Surveys tend to include simple agree/disagree questions, such as:
  • WM at Church offers a wide variety of Bible Study and Small Groups.
  • WM at Church brunches are held at just the right frequency.
  • WM at Church events are well publicized and I feel informed.
These surveys also allow you to offer up an opportunity to ask more personal or opinion based questions, such as:
  • List three ways you believe WM at Church could better support our women?
  • If you are not in a small group, please share why?
  • Would you be interested in one on one discipleship/mentoring?
  • Are you interested in serving with the Women’s Ministry team?
Just as in the event survey, I do recommend leaving some space for comments and suggestions.   This is also a great opportunity to begin connecting people together by including questions about hosting a small group in your home (but not teaching), leading a small group, starting a community interest group (Christian Photographers, Sewing Groups, etc), and specifics that can connect the women to serving in the church.
You can send out the surveys in one of two ways, a good old fashioned paper survey or via one of the many (and often free) internet survey sites (such as Survey Monkey).
Why I value paper surveys:
  • They are accessible to everyone in your body, not just those who have a computer or are computer friendly.  It allows our older generations to speak their opinions.
  • They allow space to expound upon your answers in the margins.  For example, you may agree that there is a great variety of small groups but perhaps you’d  like to see more expository options available.  Paper surveys give space to make notations as you fill out the survey.
  • When someone has a paper in hand, they are more apt to complete it and return it.   Especially if they are completing the survey at the end of the event, or at the last WM event for the year.  You will see your highest return by having surveys filled out on site.
  • NEGATIVE:  You will have compile all of the data yourself, reading and counting every single survey.  The larger your ministry, the more tedious this will become.
Why I value internet surveys:
  • You do not have to be a math whiz to compile the data.  These online survey sites will often create charts/graphs with your data, thus making the review of the results easier for everyone.  You will have a great summary sheet to share with your Pastor, Minsitry Oversight Committees, and to go with your budget requests for the Financial Committee.
  • Online surveys are quick and easy and you do not need to try and interpret handwriting.  This makes the entire process easier for both sides, the person taking the survey and the person responsible for processing it.  Additionally, paper free surveys are environmentally friendly.
  • Most people will complete the survey when it shows up in their email box, but you do take the risk of the survey ending up in someone’s junk folder or buried in a slew of other emails and forgotten.  If you send out an online survey, make sure to mention it at your current event or social media sites to ensure the women know to look for the survey.
  • NEGATIVE:   The oldest generation of your church will be less likely to respond to the online survey.  There are sometimes limitations on the number of questions you can ask (if it’s a free service) or on how much they can type in the “comments” section.  Which means you may get a less in depth analysis.
My final thoughts on surveys comes to the subject of anonymity.  On the one hand, people will feel more freedom in their responses if they are allowed to remain anonymous.  On the other otherhand, anonymity can often give someone a platform for passive agressive attacks.  In other words, people are more apt to say something critical anonymously than they would if they had to say it to your face or attach their name to it.
If you choose to go anonymously, be prepared for a heavier dose of criticism.  Don’t ask questions you are not prepared to hear the answers to, or read comments that are less than helpful.  Some women will respond with their genuine concerns in this format, since many women don’t handle confrontation very well.  Especially if they are friends with the WM team members.  You will need to pray for discernment as you read the responses to determine if it is constructive criticism or destructive criticism.  You will also lose the opportunity to allow women to express interest in serving/leading as part of the survey.  Which means you would need to handle that separately.
If you choose to have the women include their name in the survey, be prepared for a lot of sunshine and roses and minimal open criticism of the ministry work.  When we have to sign our name to something, we are often more generous and graceful with our opinions.  It’s that part of women which is sensitive to the hearts of others.  We don’t want to hurt feelings or criticize someone we consider a friend.  However, this gives the women you are serving an opportunity to express their hearts.  If someone is willing to post a criticism with their name attached to it, you now have important information in your hands.  First, you know that this issue was important to the person who wrote it.  Second, you now have the opportunity to speak directly to the person about it.  This is a great opportunity to hear ideas or suggestions to improve the ministry, or at least create a conversation where you can explain to the person why the ministry made that decision or had that event.
Of course, there is also the option to let the women decide if they want to answer anonymously or not.  Even the online ones will give you the option for this choice as you set up the survey.

The End… or is it???

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At the end of the year, we reflect back on the past twelve months.  This reflection period helps us to determine what was working in our lives and what wasn’t.  We will make resolutions about our hopes for the new year.  Things we want to change.  New adventures we want to take.  Big decisions that need to be made, and small ones too.  We look to make our bodies healthier, and our minds stronger.  Some people will choose to leave a job that is not fulfilling, others will dedicate themselves to trying harder to land the next promotion.

The end of the year isn’t really the end, but rather the beginning.

The end of a chapter that leads us to the next step in our journey.  The end of a book is an opportunity to start a new adventure.  As long as we wake up on this side of heaven, there is still a place for our gifts and talents in this world.

What does this mean to Women’s Ministry?

It means that it is time for you and your team to reevaluate your ministry work, determining what events and programs stay and which should go.  But, it is also a time for self reflection.

* Are you still called to be the Women’s Ministry Leader?  (Or, other position title)

* Are you still called to serve on the Women’s Ministry Team, at all?

* Is the Lord calling you to a new ministry, or a season of rest?

There are times where we are called to step down from authority positions, but not necessarily to leave the team.  Your heart might still be dedicated to Women’s Ministry, but you are in a season that lacks the time to dedicate to the leadership position.  You can step down permanently or even select an interim leader and take a leave of absence.   However, there are times the Lord has a new place for your gifts and talents, and it may be time to leave the ministry altogether.  It is important to pray for discernment so that you know which is the path the Lord would have you take.  Keep in mind that the Lord may also call you to a season of rest.  I once had a friend tell me that the Lord won’t move you until He has somewhere for you to go.    I’ve learned that is not always the case.  Sometimes we are called into a desert period, where we have left what we knew… but we are not ready to go to the promise land yet.  The Lord may move you to a season of rest, where your priority is your direction relationship with Him; a season of growth and maturity to prepare you for the next leg in your journey.

If you have been feeling as if the Lord is moving you out of Women’s Ministry, then there are some other questions you should consider for the new year.

* Have I begun training my replacement?

* Have I made my team or Pastors’ aware of my intentions?

* Do I have people praying over me, my decision, and the ministry?

* If the Lord is calling  you to a specific ministry, have you reached out to their leadership team and expressed your interest in joining their work?

* If the Lord is calling you to a season of rest, have you prayed for clarity on what that looks like and shared this with those who will keep you accountable?

If you know in your heart that your season with Women’s Ministry is coming to a close, the greatest gift you can leave your team and church is a team that is going to function well in your absence and in the transition period.  Giving advance notice of your intention to step down, identifying and developing your replacement, and assuring your church leaders that you will be available to the new leader in an advisory role during the transition can make the process move smoothly. 

Final considerations, should you determine it is time to leave your role in the Women’s Ministry:

* How will you handle your exit?  Will you step away completely or ease out over a period of time?

* How am I going to handle team members coming to me with WM issues, now that I am not the leader?

* How will I handle members of the church coming to me with WM issues, now that I am not the leader?

Something I like to remind WM Leaders is that they leave a legacy.  Some women don’t like change, and when a new leader steps up it usually brings change along with it.  If you feel called to leave, then you have a responsibility to support the leaderWhether you choose to step away complete or ease out, make sure that you are encouraging the women you serve with (church leaders, church members) to take their concerns to the new leader and not to you.  Or, you can reassure them that all changes take time to get accustomed to and to be patient.  Being supportive of the new season allows you to leave a legacy that includes exiting with grace.

Ministry Goals for 2017

calendarCan you believe it is already December?  Is it just me, or did 2016 pass with lightening speed?

It’s pretty common for people to come up with new years resolutions, goals for the new year.  Perhaps it is to get healthier, or to start a new hobby.  Fix relationships or work on self improvement.  Get to church more regularly or finally apply for that promotion you heard about.

Have you ever thought about your ministry goals?  I find that by reflecting on the current year, I can cast a stronger vision for the next year.

I may ask my supervisor or peers to give me a ministry evaluation (like a job review) and let me know how I am performing.  What areas do I excel in?  Where do I need to improve?

I will take a look at what our ministry work has accomplished and evaluate how we need to more forward.  What programs or methods are working in our favor?  What things failed miserably, and need to be removed entirely or at least revamped.

This may be a great time to check in with those who oversee your work.  Has the larger ministry vision changed or shifted?  Are there any challenges we are going to face in the new year (like a budget cut, new leadership, etc.) that we need to prepare for?

If you have never set a goal for your ministry, now might be the right time to do so.  Pray that the Lord would give you a vision for the ministry, develop a mission statement, and come up with action steps on how to get the process moving.

It may also be time to evaluate your tenure with your ministry work.  What is happening in your life that may be an indicator that God is calling you to another area of ministry?  Is it time for you to take a season of rest to refuel?  Is it time to find a “Timothy” to bring along side of you to prepare for leadership?

Or, on the other hand, is it time for you to finally step up to more responsibility?

Take some time to explore these thoughts on your own, but also along with your team.  Encourage self evaluation and figure out where you need to course correct personally and as a ministry team.

Bring in new women to serve, that bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm with them.

Make a purpose to connect deeper with your church’s vision.

Set specific goals of community service opportunities, discipleship/mentoring programs, etc.