Important News… About those Crickets

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You’ve probably wondering what has been going on around these parts, because there has been nothing but the sound of crickets.  Truth is, while it has been quiet here on the website… it’s been anything but quiet for our leadership team.

If you have not seen the update on our Facebook page, we have some exciting news to share.

When we began the Women’s Ministry Council, there was a vision.  Two friends sat over coffee lamenting about having a place to meet with other Women’s Ministry Leaders and talk shop.  Ministries really hadn’t adapted to the Facebook/Social Media groups yet, and we wanted to network with other Women’s Ministry leaders, share resources, and grow in our ministries and as leaders.  The first part of the vision was to set up a regular opportunity to meet and get training.

The second part of the vision, was that we were going to create a duplicatable model that others could launch in their own cities.  That part of the ministry never took off.  Several years after our first quarterly meeting, I launched our first LeadHer Conference.  It was very successful, and our ministry began growing online.  Instead of our live meetings being our primary connection, they actually became secondary.

I also watched the ministry grow, expanding to include not just Women’s Ministry leaders… but also women leading in ministries in different roles and capacities.  Social media allowed for a connection across the globe.  When announcing a live meet up event (either quarterly training or conference) there would always arise the same question…

“Will you be recording this?”

Which eventually became …

“Will you live stream this?”

We’ve known, for about the last two years, that we needed to begin exploring these questions and incorporate some sort of recording device into our events.  However, as a non-profit organization that runs on a shoe string budget… it was intimidating.  Did we have the funds to purchase software, equipment, etc.?   Did we have time to learn how to use these materials, would we need more volunteers?  And, so on.  We were stuck in analysis paralysis.

Then came #Covid19 and before we knew it all of our schedules and plans were wiped off the calendar.  We were thrust into entering the online world in order to continue to keep our ministry alive and relevant.  In short order, we planned the most impromptu of events.  In March, with just a week to get it all together, a group of speakers created the #LeadHerOnline mini-conference.  Short messages of encouragement in an uncertain time.

It was such a success, that we decided to do it again.  On May 23rd, from 9am-5pm EST on the LeadHer Facebook page there will be 13 speakers, 1 worship leader, and a full day of encouragement and refreshing for the leaders who have been tirelessly pouring out in this strange new season.  (visit www.LeadHerConference.com for more information)

So… what is the REAL news?

I’m sure you are wondering when I’ll get to the real point, so here we go.

In this season of crazy, quick transitions… I realized what we CAN do.  I realized how much more effective we were online, and allowed the intimidation to pass as I embraced the new.  But, I also took this to the Lord in prayer.  I wanted to know what HIS plans for the ministry would be, how would we come out on the other side of this Covid19 hold.  The answer was going to be massive changes for the better.

This ministry has grown well beyond “Women’s Ministry Leaders” and local meetings.  After prayer, and discussing with wise counsel, the decision was made to:

Merge Women’s Ministry Council and Lead Her Conference into 1 entity under the LeadHer title which is more inclusive of the different types of leaders that we are connecting with.

What does that mean?

  1.  On June 1st, our WMC Facebook page will merge into the LeadHer page.  Please make sure you are following “LeadHer” so that you don’t miss any important information.  After June 1st, you will not be able to access WMC’s page.
  2.  Our Twitter account is already in the process of transitioning to the LeadHer account name.
  3.  On July 1st, our WMC Instagram account will go away, and all Instagram posts will continue on the LeadHer account.  So please make sure you are also following us there.
  4.  The WMC site will merge into the LeadHer website.  Currently it is designated as our conference site, but you will see a complete overhaul within the next few months.  You will be able to access all of our archived articles from this site through LeadHer, so don’t fret about losing any content! Our goal is that the website transition will be completed on or near August 1st.

Finally, you may also be wondering about #LeadHer2021.  Due to Covid19 throwing all calendars and events into the air, everyone rescheduling for future dates, only having to reschedule them again… at this point we do not know how Covid19 is going to impact our scheduled date for the 2021 conference.

Once that information is confirmed, we will share it with you.

Be blessed, be safe, pray for us during this transition, and join us Saturday 5/23 for #LeadHerOnline

Quarantine Tip #1: Reconnect with Pastor

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Our Pastors are busy guys, and their days are full.  Meetings, visitations, etc.  The same can be said for our ministry leaders, who are often working full time jobs while they are leading a ministry within the church.  I have noticed that the Quarantine hasn’t necessarily stopped our lives, so much as shifted them.  We may still have all of the same responsibilities, but a little extra time on our hands since we are not commuting to work each day.  I have almost 4 hours of extra time on my hands by simply removing the morning and afternoon school routines.  At the same time, what extra we have gained may have been replaced by something else.  For example, I am not responsible for overseeing my children’s education all day.  I have to stop and make lunch for everyone vs. just grabbing a quick nibble for myself.  It’s different, in some ways easier, in some ways harder.

I say this, because I want to make sure that it is clear that I’m not suggesting your Pastor is home during the Quarantine twiddling his thumbs.  He, too, is experiencing different… that is in some ways easier & also harder.  He is probably still holding meetings via zoom or conference calls, working on the Sunday message or midweek connections.  Visitations may be happening, albeit a bit differently than we are used to.  The members are still coming with needs to be met.  He probably is not interrupted by the pop bys at his office to ask quick questions, he may be working from home and thus lessened his commute time.  But, he is also learning new technology as he is livestreaming services.  He may be learning new social media platforms for engaging the members between services.  He may be more in tune with the news and press releases about the virus, so that he can wrap his head around how long this “new normal” will be in play.

What has stopped though, for so many of us, is the events we may have planned for our church.  That take up space, and time… not just in the building but also in our mental capacities.  The spring brunches and women’s retreats are cancelled.  Palm Sunday and Easter are going to be radically different this year.  No one is traveling for conferences.  We don’t know if that annual Mother’s Day Tea is going to happen.  Summer Camps and VBS might be put on hold.  We just don’t know.

Because of this, it is the right time to stop and take stock of the ministry vision.  Message your Pastor and plan a call or zoom meeting to discuss the vision of the church, and how he sees Women’s Ministry fitting into it.  Or, to reconnect on the vision and how it has been impacted by the closure of the building & if there is any way that Women’s Ministry can come alongside to support.

Keep the call short, to the point, and for the purpose of getting feedback from the Pastor.  Then take that information, pray over it, disperse it to the team, and follow up with an email that sets forth your plan of action.  Keep in mind, that right now we are in uncertainty.  So do not hold to an plans as anchored on the calendar, but rather fluid and changing as we take each day on.

Lead Well,

Gena

ASK: Why Aren’t Scholarships 100% Covered

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If you have been in ministry leadership long enough you have planned an event or trip that has included scholarship opportunities.  Scholarships give us a chance to help someone attend the event/trip who otherwise would not be able to afford it.

It’s become even more common place that scholarships are no longer 100% covered but instead include some sort of a contribution from the person attending.  In the case of students, we may have workship opportunities where they can contribute volunteer hours to something happening at the church in exchange for monetary credit toward their registration cost.  For adults, however, it is usually a monetary contribution.

In speaking with different churches, there is not hard fast rule on how much.  Some require a percentage of the total cost, others have a flat amount regardless of the event cost, and some even begin the scholarship conversation with the question “what can you afford towards the cost?”.

But why?  Why do we ask someone in need of scholarship to contribute?  If they had the funds, they wouldn’t need the scholarship. Is this unfair?

After speaking with literally hundreds of leaders, in all areas of ministry, there is a very common reason given for seeking contribution in order to get scholarship funds.  Those who are given full scholarships are more likely to cancel at the last minute or not even show up.   This doesn’t seem to be impacted by the type of event, cost of the event, duration of the event, location of the event, or age of the person scholarshipped.

Why is this problematic?

  • The church/ministry has already paid for that person, which means they are not out of money that could have been spent elsewhere or saved.
  •  The last minute cancellation or no show prevent the scholarship funds being passed on to someone else who wanted to attend but couldn’t afford.

Why does contributing solve the problem?

  •  Evidence points to a much more consistent commitment to attend when a person has had to contribute time, energy, or money to attend.

When you spend hours working at the church to earn scholarship credit, you are more likely to attend the event.  When you have contributed even a small portion of the money, you are more likely to attend because you don’t want to just throw your money away.

While we can debate all day long about morals, ethics, responsibility, etc… the facts are the facts.  Evidence supports that a minimal buy in will result in commitment.  This has even been seen in the business world when it comes to direct sales companies, franchises, etc.  The more someone contributes to the start up, the harder they are going to work and more committed they will be to seeing the venture becomes successful.

As we learn more about how people operate, think, and behavior we can tailor our approach, even in ministry, in a manner that works more effectively

ASK: Why should I plan ahead?

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Some women’s ministries will have a meeting and plan out their entire year, others work quarterly, and some choose to move event to event.  Why is it important to plan ahead in Women’s Ministry?

In my twenty something years of Women’s Ministry, I’ve been a part of planning Women’s Ministry events every which way under the sun.  And, yes, I do believe that planning ahead is better than winging from month to month.  Whether you choose to do that in quarters, biannually, or annually… that I leave to personal preference.

But, why?

Vision.

Proverbs 29:18 reads “A people without vision will perish.”  Vision is incredibly important to ministry leaders.  We need to know where we are going, why we are going there, how we are going to get there, and who is going to be part of that journey.

The first step in ministry vision casting is to meet with your Pastor (or overseeing deacon/elder).  We are not too far into 2020 (especially with the impact of the Covid19 virus) to not take a moment and backtrack to this step if you missed it.  In fact, man of us are throwing our 2020 plans out the window & looking to start over.  Which may even aid to your argument about planning month by month because … “you never know what will happen.”   Just follow with me for a bit. 

First, we meet with the Pastor (or overseeing deacon/elder) to ensure that we as the Women’s Ministry leader understand what the vision for the church is.  This doesn’t not change because of crisis.  The vision, is the vision.  How we may execute that vision may change, but the vision will be consistent.   Then once we understand the vision for the church, the next part of the discussion is how does the Pastor (deacon/elder) see the Women’s Ministry supporting that vision.

Then the Women’s Ministry Leader takes the answers to those questions to their team & this is where we brainstorm.  How are we going to execute that vision?  What does that tangibly look like to meet the vision of the church AND also serve the women in our church/community.  

Planning ahead for a year doesn’t mean that we have ever detail ironed out and accounted for in that initial planning meeting.  It simply means that we are setting a path or establishing direction.  We know what the end goal is for the year and we are ordering our steps, like an outline, on how we plan to get there.  Outlines afford adjustments for crisis and the unexpected.

Then as you regularly meet with your team, you will take each of those events, activities, plans and work out the finite details as needed.  

For example, our WM had a goal of adding in more Women’s Studies in our small group menu for 2020.  Now, our adjustment due to Covid19 is taking those studies online.  We didn’t change the vision, just the execution.

When you plan ahead, not only does it make it easier for you to know where you are going, how you are getting there, and who is responsible for what… but it also gives you a starting point for adjusting to crisis and the unexpected.

Instead of throwing your hands up in the air and saying “now what?”, you have an actionable plan.

Your team can evaluate what you had planned for the immediate future and determine what simply needs to be cancelled, what can be modified for online, and what can be added.  However, those long term plans are a beacon of hope to your women about what is to come once the crisis has passed.

Serving in ministry, in South Florida, for over twenty years has taught me to adjust to emergency.  Hurricanes don’t really care about our ministry plans.  Having to move to online church services, temporarily, is nothing new to us.  We trust and believe that the Lord is not boxed in by church walls but can still actively reach and change the hearts of people through streamed services, pre-recorded messages, facebook lives, etc.  He is able. 

So, for us, making minor and even major adjustments to our plans for the summer is par for the course.  It is so much easier to make those adjustments when you are starting off with a skeleton outline or general direction than from a blank slate.

Have vision.  Execute the vision.  Adjust as needed.

Plan ahead for what you can, and don’t worry about making changes along the way.  Planning ahead creates a foundation to work from.

ASK: Why do I need to RSVP for a FREE event?

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In our new series, ASK, Women’s Ministry Leaders will be answering common questions from not only other leaders… but also the women in which we serve.

Q:  Why do I need to RSVP for a FREE event?

It’s Sunday, as you scan through the church bulletin, or listen to the announcements, you hear the good news… there is an upcoming Women’s Ministry event!  You note the date and time, uncertain at this exact moment if you can attend.  As part of the announcement you are directed to RSVP through a website link or sign up sheet located in the lobby.  The event is free, why do I need to RSVP?  Can’t I just show up?

Some Women’s Ministries are funded by their church, others are funded directly through the women who serve on the ministry team, or costs are covered by taking up an offering or charging a small fee.  Whether the event has a fee or is free, RSVPing is incredibly important.  Why?

  •  Your ministry team needs to know how many people to prepare for.  It is our job as the leadership team to prepare for the attendees.  This means we need to have enough tables and seats set out for our guests, plates & utensils for the meal, enough food, print materials, and take home favors.   When we have no idea how many women are attending, we end up either underprepared or overprepared.  RSVPing gives the team the ability to plan accordingly.
  • We are called to be good stewards.  Whether the funding is from the church or from our own pockets, we are still called to be good stewards with the money.  If we over spend due to too many supplies for an event with a lower than anticipated attendance, we have wasted money.   We may have wasted supplies, wasted food, etc.  By RSVPing, we can budget responsibly.
  •  We may be responsible for providing information to other parties.  Occasionally, we have a Women’s Ministry event off campus at a local golf club.  It’s a really nice event, not very expensive, and a treat for our women.  However, the Golf Club requires us to give them our attendance numbers two weeks ahead of the event.  Sometimes our women visit other locations that are hosting a live simulcast, special conference, etc.  By knowing how many of our women are coming, we can save seating so that our group can sit together.  There are also occasions where we are partnering with another organization or ministry, that will be providing information or gifts to our attendees.  We need to provide them with an approximate number so that they too are prepared for the event.

It is also important that if you have RSVP’d for an event (free, paid, or scholarship) and you are unable to attend that you notify the team AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

  •  Notifying the leadership that you will no longer attend a free event, allows us to adjust our numbers so that we steward budget/planning of the event well.
  •  If the event is sold out or at max capacity, even free events can fill up, we can let people who are interested in attending but missed the initial RSVP an opportunity to attend.
  •  If the event has a cost, by notifying the leadership you will be unable to attend, you may be able to receive a refund.  Or, it gives you the opportunity to scholarship your ticket to someone who wanted to attend but couldn’t afford.
  •  If you accepted a scholarship, and didn’t show… that means the church paid for your materials/meal… and it went to waste.  It also means that someone else who needed scholarship couldn’t attend.  By notifying the team as soon as possible, it allows them to extend the scholarship to another person.

LeadHer 2020

#LeadHer2020 was amazing, and our team is catching up on life since.  The Lord is working out some amazing opportunities for LeadHer 2021 & Women’s Ministry Council.

We will return to our regularly scheduled week Feb 17.  Until then, here is quick highlight of our speakers, more to come!

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