Ministry Spotlight: HOPE MOMMIES

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Recently, an acquaintance of mine shared that a young woman in her church had a miscarriage.  I was reminded of this wonderful ministry, Hope Mommies.  We’ve shared this ministry with our local leaders, and I wanted to take a moment to revisit it here.

From their website:

Hope Mommies™ is a 501(c)3 non-profit Christian organization who sole purpose is to come alongside moms and families who have experienced infant loss, bringing comfort, encouragement, companionship, and hope as they continue to walk this side of eternity without their beloved son or daughter.

Hope Mommies helps these mothers and families through various methods:

Directly:  A mother who has experienced loss is gifted a Hope Box, which contains personal gifts items, book, journal, and more.  It’s not just a sweet gesture to let her know you are thinking about her, but the contents are tools that can help her cope with the loss.   You can pay to have a Hope Box sent directly to a woman you know, who has experienced loss.  Or, you can donate a box that Hope Mommies will distribute on your behalf.

Community:  You can direct moms who have experienced loss to their online community, or as a leader you can lean into this community to learn how you can better serve the women in your church who have lost an infant or young child.  Or, you can host a Community Group in your church; providing a safe place for women in your church or in your local community to find others who have walked this road.  A place to heal, lean, and love.

Annual Retreat:  You can sponsor a woman in your community to attend the Hope Mommies Annual Retreat, or as a Women’s Ministry take on this as a cause that your ministry will financially support.

Ministry Cause:  Consider hosting a gathering event at your church, where your Women’s Ministry team or women in the church assemble Hope Boxes to deliver to your local hospitals to distribute when a woman in your community loses a child.   You may also build connections with your local OBGYN and Pediatrician offices and distribute boxes through their facilities as well.

Prayerfully consider if Hope Mommies is a needed ministry in your area.

The Pitcher is Filled

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Leaders are consistently pouring out into others, it is what we have been called to do.  To teach, lead, support, encourage, help one another, and whatever else the Lord calls us to.  As we pour out into others, it is important that we are being poured into by others.

In the past, when we have discussed mentoring and discipleship at our live meetings, we have shared with the leaders that mentors also need mentors.  This is one way in which we can be poured into.  But, there are also other ways that leaders can take intentional steps to ensure they are being poured into.  Empty pitchers need to be filled.  If they are not refilled, they can no longer pour into the cups they serve.

Here Are Some Suggestions to Fill Up Your Empty Pitcher:

  • Regular Church Attendance.   If you are not attending somewhere, regularly, you miss the fuel of corporate worship.  If you can’t attend your home church, find a church you can visit in the interim.
  • Regular Bible Study.  Making sure that you are connecting with God’s word, either in a community study or your own personal study provides you with a constant flow of His wisdom and guidance.
  • Dedicated Prayer Life.  Our prayers put us in direct communication with God, sharing our hearts and being open to His answer.  He can fuel us directly with the presence of His Spirit in these moments of intimacy with Him.
  • Pump in the Worship Music.  On a run.  In the car.  Around the house. Filling yourself with music that glorifies Him, lyrics that share His Word and affection can boost the emotional tank.
  • Attend an Event.  Whether it is a conference, retreat, workshop, simulcast, live speaking event, etc. make sure to attend events at other churches or locations that YOU are not planning.  Allowing yourself to be served helps refuel your servants heart. 
  • Get Away with God.  Schedule a time where you can take a break from all the things distracting you and set aside a lengthy period where you spend one on one time with God.  We will speak about this more in November, but planning a personal retreat of 24 hours or longer can help you shake off the dust and prepare your heart for what He will have you doing next.  Letitia Suk’s book “Getaway with God” is an excellent source for planning a personal retreat.

 

Your Presence Is Requested

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In 2005, my family relocated to the Treasure Coast. We knew absolutely no one in the area.  I knew the most important thing we could do, to begin to foster community, is find our home church.  I made a list of things that I felt were important for our family in our search process.  One of the things that was important to me was that the church have an active Women’s Ministry.  Why?
*  There would be fellowship opportunities where I would meet Christian Women, building up a local tribe of friends.
*  There was a high chance that an active Women’s Ministry would go on retreats or to conferences (which I love).
*  There would be a ministry where I could eventually serve, as I rooted myself into our new home.
My next step, was to hit the internet.  Truth is, there are a lot of churches in the Treasure Coast.  It would be impossible to visit them all, and frankly I didn’t want to waste time visiting a church that was missing the elements that were important to our family.  I visited church websites, looking at what type of Children’s Ministry they offered.  Since I knew we would be into Youth Group before too long, I looked into that as well.  I also looked for what type of Women’s Ministry was offered. Some church websites had none of this info, some had a basic listing of the types of ministries offered at their church, and others were a bit more extensive.
I used this method to weed out a lot of churches.  To be very blunt, if you didn’t have these three ministries in your church… we were not even going to bother to visit.  In fact, our current home church didn’t make the cut when we first moved here.  It was a couple of years later before we would visit the church.  They were having a women’s brunch that month.  If it wasn’t for actually being in the building, I would have never known.  We may have never ended up there.
It’s been twelve years, social media has come a long way.  Our web presence is even more important today than it was then.  People use our church websites to learn a lot about our churches, the ministries we offer, and how they relate to community.  Potential visitors can watch recorded services and find out if they like the music, Pastor’s message, etc. before they walk through the doors.
In our digital age the concept of “coming in and experiencing it for yourself” is almost obsolete.  In fact, many churches today have been tested by visitors it will never knew existed because they checked out the service through a livestream on Sunday morning.  Our ability to measure guest responses to our church is impaired, because visitors are watching us through a two way mirror. We can’t see the guests, but they are watching and watching closely.
Not only is it important that your church has a website, for visitors to learn more about your church… but it is also vital that it includes information about the various ministries that exist within the church.
When the Women’s Ministry Council started, we utilized the internet to help us locate the churches in our area that had a Women’s Ministry.  We searched through the site for mentions of a Women’s Ministry or at least Women’s Bible Studies.  Three years in, our #1 question we are asked is always:  “How come I didn’t know this existed before?”.   If your church doesn’t have a website, or the website doesn’t mention  your Women’s Ministry … that might be the reason why.  As a small start up ministry, with zero budget, we couldn’t afford to pay for a mass mailing and hope for the best.  We had a search strategy that helped us zero in our target.
Potential members may be crossing your church off the list based on the lack of information on your website.  The photos on the site, the content, and even the church calendar tell the story of your church.
Once you have added your Women’s Ministry to the church site, then you need to look at how information requests are funneled to the Women’s Ministry team.  This is usually the second reason why local churches with Women’s Ministries have not learned about our group.  After we would determine a church had a Women’s Ministry our next step was to reach out via email and postal mail.   Not only do guests in your church need a way to reach out to the Women’s Ministry for information, but so do the people within the body.  We need to make sure the information is making it to the right people.
I can’t tell you the number of WM Leaders who I speak with, who I personally addressed the mailing to their church, who never received it.  The email didn’t get forwarded on, or the invitation was never passed on.  A clear pathway of communication means that people requesting information about your Women’s Ministry have a direct way to reach YOU as the leader, or that those who receive general inquiries know to pass on the requests appropriately.  I also suggest letting that person know that you would prefer they pass on all inquires and you can filter through them.
As a Women’s Ministry leader, if you didn’t receive our mailing… I wonder what other information you may have missed out on?  Understand that it is not that the information is being purposefully kept from you.  Churches receive a lot of email and mail, from all sorts of organizations and businesses.  Someone is sorting through all of that mail, tasked with weeding out the junk mail.  A simple conversation can help this staff member or volunteer understand how you want your ministry mail handled.
Some key points to consider…
* Does your church have a website?  If your church doesn’t have a website… anyone who may be trying to find a local church might be missing out on what you have to offer.
* Does your church mention your Women’s Ministry on the site?  At minimum, it should be included in the list of ministries.
* Does your church have a clear path of information that funnels requests, mailings, and information to the Women’s Ministry leader?   Where does your mail go? Can you get an email address at the church that can be shared on the website and automatically forwarded to you?
* If you do not have an official “Women’s Ministry” ask your church office what happens to materials sent in address to Women’s Ministry leaders.  You never know what amazing things your church or women could be missing out on.

Be Still and Know

BeStillHe says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  

– Psalm 46:10 NIV

Quite often in leadership we find ourselves always on the go, moving forward, advance our Kingdom work.  We can spend hours scouring the internet tracking the trends of Women’s Ministries across the country.  We can invest our time and money in books to better ourselves as leaders.  We can even meet quarterly with Women’s Ministry leaders in our community to create a council of leaders who share their wisdom and experience.  Movement, growth, and study is a beautiful thing.  It’s not always the best thing.  There are times, even we as leaders, need to find stillness and listen to the voice of God.

We may need to stop the online searches, put down the books, and pick up the Word and let it speak life into our personal walk, families, and our ministry.  What if the Lord doesn’t want your ministry to follow the ministry trends but instead innovate a new way to minister to women?  Have you considered that the Lord may be trying to take your ministry focus off solely serving the women in your church and instead opening the doors to the women in your community?  Or, has your ministry taken priority in your life over your family commitments and relationships; and it’s time to add more people to the team or reevaluate your ministry goals?

If we are too busy listening to other voices, we can disrupt our ability to hear the Holy Spirit speaking.  There is a season to work and toil, but there is also a season to be still and listen. A time to be still and know that He is God, and He will order our steps.

Who Is In Your Community?

networkingHave you ever wondered what is happening in your community?  What businesses exist?  Which ministries are working alongside the community?  Who are people of influence in your area?  I have.  So, this week I stepped out on faith and attended a local business “branding” event.

I don’t have a business, I actually know a bit about branding, and yet I just knew that I had to give this luncheon an opportunity.  I learned about it through a sponsored post that was on my Facebook page.  I knew absolutely no one attending, and I had no idea what I was walking into but hey… I like lunch.  That’s a win, right?

By the time I walked out of there, I learned of three local ministries in our area that I could connect our Women’s Ministry leaders to.  I also was able to help another ministry with a resource that could help her cause.  Another ministry offered me a few solution ideas that I had not considered as we grow our ministry.  I even learned a tidbit about branding that I am going to be employing with the Women’s Ministry Council.

Talk about a win!  If you are trying to find ministries or organizations that your Women’s Ministry can work with, consider a networking event.  Or, if you are a ministry or organization in need of support from local businesses… consider a networking event.  Ask around, search on Facebook, and I’m certain you will find one in your area.

Leadership Begins In Me

Woman Looking at ReflectionI don’t know any leader who doesn’t actively seek to improve their skill set.  We dig into books, internet articles, and discussion with other leaders to better ourselves.  Hours can be spent looking at ministry trends, taking leadership assessments, and digging through the scriptures to identify what a good leader is and does.  We invest in our time in conferences and workshops, we seek to the best with the job God has assigned for us.

One of the things I have been focusing on lately, however isn’t the stuff I add into my leadership repertoire but instead the foundations I began with.  As leaders we are to be an example to those we lead, and sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our ministry work we can begin to drop the ball. It’s easy to excuse those moments because we have all of this leadership work to do, right?

If I want to lead well, I must begin within.  I must lead myself, well.

I must lead myself to church each weekend.

I must lead myself to spend time in the Word, regularly.

I must lead myself to talk with God through prayer.

I must lead myself to relationships with other believers that will strengthen me.

I must lead myself to still waters, quietness where I can HEAR the Lord.

I must lead myself to tend to my household, my husband, and my children.

Recently, a leader shared this statement with me:

You can not lead where you do not go, you cannot lead in what you do not know.