Most ministry leaders look for new and fresh activities to offer there women. I am in the camp that we can’t please all of the people all of the time, but we can please some of the people some of the time. Meaning, by offering a wide variety of events and opportunities we can meet different women in different ways. If the only thing you ever offer is a brunch with a devotion, or guest speaker, you will only interest the women who like brunches. Add in service projects, you reach a whole new group of women who rather be the hands and feet in the community. Variety is a good thing, when vetted appropriately.
Throughout the year, I’m often approached with ideas for events, suggestions for new studies, or opportunities to attend an event with a hot new speaker. As a ministry leader, I am responsible for the women I am leading. It is important that I vet everything that comes across my path vs. assuming that because the word “Christian” is applied that it must be so. I take the time to research speakers, events, books, and studies. If I don’t have the time, I table it until I do. I’m accountable. I want to be deemed trustworthy.
Years ago, when serving on a ministry team vs. leading it, we scheduled an event that seemed like a great idea. We were burnt out on the same old, same old. We hired in an expert in a health field to teach a workshop that would benefit the women. It was recommended by a woman on the team, the leader had approved of it. I assumed that meant the leadership had vetted the speaker. In the expert’s attempt to take a perfectly ok subject on a secular level appeal to us a “church group”… things went awry. When the event was over, the leadership team called an immediate follow up meeting at a nearby café. The leader apologized for her oversight. She had not vetted as she should have. I apologized for not asking. We needed to figure out how we were going to address this with our women. When you mess up, you have to own it. You also learn from it.
Recently, I was volunteering with national ministry that would be in my city hosting a public event. As part of the local volunteer team, we were tasked with going to local churches and promoting the event. We spoke on Sunday mornings briefly before service, we attended women’s ministry events and mom’s group events and made a quick announcement about the event. We were paving the way. It was at one of these women’s events that I was caught by surprise. This was a very well respected group, one that I had known in the past to have very high standards for their speakers. I opted to attend the full meeting vs. slipping in and out after delivering my 5 minute advert. As I listened to speaker, my jaw hung agape. The speaker was attempting to spiritualize her topic and clearly had no idea what she was talking about. Sixty women sat in that room taking copious notes. I addressed the leaders about it later and they had no idea that she was going to say what she did. This was a recommended speaker, they didn’t vet her, they assumed based on the person who made the recommendation that she was biblically sound.
Let me quickly state this caveat… there is NO reason you can’t have a fun event for women with a speaker on important topics that must be masked with Christianity. If you want to invite a doctor to speak to your women’s group in October about breast health and even how to properly conduct a self exam… DO IT. Let your speakers understand that you are ok with them staying in their wheelhouse & if you want to add a Scriptural element to the topic, you will provide the person who will handle that. There are many different ways that we can invite Jesus in to our events, we don’t always have to rely on the speaker if the subject doesn’t demand it.
What we learn from these experiences is how important it is for us as leaders to make sure we take the time to investigate these speakers before setting them in front of the captive audience that is our women.
A woman does not need to be a theologian in order to share her testimony, but you can ask her to write it out and share it with you first. This gives you an opportunity to ensure the Scripture she references is in correct context. A speaker doesn’t have to have a seminary degree to teach on Scripture, but she needs to have a proven track record of teaching and references that you can access. If there is not any video or audio clips of past speaking engagements, ask if there are any upcoming ones that you can attend to learn more about her before booking.
When inviting speaker, whether a professional or from within your community, you have to feel confident that the words that come from her mouth will reflect accuracy to the Scriptures. You owe this to your women, you are called to do this by God. Acts 17 specifically references being like the Bereans because they didn’t just take someone’s word, but rather they tested it against the Scriptures to see if it is true. As leaders, we get the advance look at the speaker in consideration, test her words against the Scriptures, and see if it passes the litmus. Our Pastors would not turn over the pulpit to just anyone, we shouldn’t turn the podium over to just anyone either.
- Visit the speakers social media accounts.
- Review content on their website or blog.
- Read a sampling of books she has written.
- Attend other events she is speaking at.
- Ask for referrals, recommendations.
- Search for recordings (video/audio) from other events.
- Meet with her to review the topic and her outline.
- Be clear with a speaker about your denominational beliefs.
- Excuse secular speakers from spiritualizing their topics.