When I (Gena) tweet things on my personal account, it tends to be random thoughts I have at the moment. Maybe not enough to write out a full blog post, or facebook quip about. I wasn’t expecting the response I received to a tweet from a few days ago.
You don’t need to hire in a speaker w/ an amazing testimony for your next Women’s Brunch. Chances are the right woman has been sitting down the pew from you for years. There is a time for hiring for specific purposes, but also a time for inquiring more about those you serve with.
— Gena B. McCown (@GenaBMcCown) January 3, 2020
This quick comment quickly resulted in hearts, replies, and retweets. Ultimately the conversation (which has been amazing) expanded into a “how to list”. I’m going to share that with you in just a bit, but first I want to put a little context around that tweet.
I am a speaker, I’m not trying to tweet myself out of a job. I’ve just noticed a few things over my two decades of Women’s Ministry. I have at a monthly women’s brunch to hear the same speaker, every single time. I’ve heard team members tell us the only the way the women will pay for a ticket to attend (even at $5) is if it’s a speaker from outside the church. I’ve heard amazing testimonies from women that have been brought in as a conference key note. I’ve witnessed testimonies first hand with women who I have shared a cup of coffee with.
There are times for speakers. If you are trying to raise funds for a large project, as a non profit, etc. Then you may want/need to hire in a professional in order to get the attention, sell the tickets, etc. You may have a very specific message you are trying to convey to the women in your church, and a professional speaker may be the one who has already done the work. It just makes your life easier. I get it. For me, personally, the bulk of my speaking is on leadership to other (and incoming) leaders. But, I still will happily speak at a women’s brunch or tea… if I am the person they want/need.
However, there are also times when the very person that has the story that needs to be told has been sitting in the pews with you for years.
To THAT woman, who has been waiting for someone to ask… please don’t wait. Talk to your Women’s Ministry leader. Send her an email, text, or even print out a brief outline, and let her know that if she ever needs or would want for you to share your testimony… just to ask. Don’t assume we know your story, or that we know that you are willing to talk about your story.
To THE LEADERS:
Here are some practical ways to help the women in your church share their stories:
- Get to Know Your Women. If you don’t know your women, you have no idea what their stores are, or how God could use them to move the women in your church. Divide the women in the church up, amongst your team members, and intentional begin to meet with the women & just listen.
- Pray for the Women. They may be fearful about speaking in general, or intimidated to share their story. Pray that the Lord would help them walk through their fear, so that their story can help others.
- Help Craft the Message. Maybe she has a great story, but has trouble articulating it. Help her write out the message. Teach her how to edit it, about speaking points, using illustrations, etc. With guidance, she can do it.
- Use It in Other Ways. Perhaps she isn’t quite ready to speak about it, but doesn’t mind writing about it. She could write her story out as a devotion or hand out that you include on your Women’s Ministry facebook page, a bulletin insert, or just printing out copies and leaving them at the church info desk might be a start.
- Interview Her. Instead of setting her on the stage, alone, with a mic in her hand, and a spotlight on her face… go with her. Sit down across a table, and interview her. In this way you can guide her through the important parts of the story, pull her back if she gets off track, and help her feel more confident because she can look at you and not everyone else in the room.
- Record Her Testimony. You can record her testimony, giving her as many takes as she needs, edit it, and then play it as part of the event.
- Use a Panel. There are certain subjects that you may have more than one woman that contribute. Women do generally feel more comfortable in groups, being on stage or in front of a group together with women who share a similar story can be far less intimidating.
- Stand with Her. You may not ever say a word, but being present is enough. Hold her hand if she needs it. Or, let her know she can invite anyone on stage with her that she likes to make her feel more comfortable.
- Work with Her Comfort. If she speaks multiple languages, let her share her story in the one that is the easiest for her. Provide translation (live, closed captioning, etc.). It may help her to convey her thoughts more clearly if she is not having to also translate it in her own head first.
- Reach as Far as You Can. If she speakers multiple languages comfortably, encourage her to share in message in those other languages. It could be that she speaks live in one language, but records in the others and those videos are made sharable. If she is comfortable speaking/translating on the spot, go for it.
- Help Her Start Small. Start with her telling you her story, then move on to where she shares her story in front of your team. Then move to a larger small group setting, working your way up to the larger events.
There are many ways to tell a story. Just make sure that it gets told.