WMC Meeting Agendas

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As we continue our series on how you can start your own Women’s Ministry Council for your community, we tackle the topic of meeting agendas today.  Over the last five years we have tweaked the format through our experiences and feedback from the attendees.

I believe in honoring people’s time, and therefore I tend to pack schedules from start to finish.  If there is time being wasted, I worry that I am not being a good steward of other people’s time.  Our early Women’s Ministry Council meetings would have 3 speakers over the course of the two hours.  We would allow a short time for women to get their refreshments, announcements would be made, three topics would be presented, and in the middle somewhere would be a restroom break.  My thinking at the time was that the ladies could fellowship after the meeting.

Every so often, we provide a link to an anonymous survey to those who attend to provide feedback.  Repeatedly there would be a request to have time for fellowship to get to know one another better.   Ultimately, we dropped one speaker/topic and made room for fellowship time.  Even then, we still had tweaking to do in order to discover what is just the right amount of fellowship time.  From what we have learned, we recommend no more than twenty minutes.

An average meeting now, looks something like this:

9:30am start time – people arrive, get their refreshments, we quickly pray over the food, and allow them to fellowship.

9:50 meeting officially begins.  We have about 10 minutes of announcements.

10:00 the first speaker presents topic

10:30  restroom / beverage refill break

10:40 (or 10:45 if there is a larger group) the second speaker presents topic

11:10 (11:15)  we have our closing words, additional reminders, pray the women out, etc.

11:30 the meeting ends

There have been deviations to this schedule.  We have allotted 1 entire meeting to specific training on certain topics.  We have had speaker presentations that are shorter, and allotted for an additional speaker.  Things are flexible enough that we make adjustments from meeting to meeting as needed.

When we have a community group or ministry present, usually we give them about 10 to 15 minutes.  This can be slid in at the end during our closing segment.  Or, we may shorten the speakers time down to 25 minutes instead of 30.  This creates a 10 minute buffer that we can add to the community groups and ministries.  I have found that most of these groups do not need a significant amount of time to present.

 

LeadHer Conference Sneak Peek

Saturday was the 1st annual LeadHer Conference, hosted by the Women’s Ministry Council and sponsored by One Child Matters.

We have a lot to share about that time, as well as finish our series on starting your own WMC…. but here is a sneak peek while we recover from an amazing day!

More to come, as we share about our speakers… sponsors… and attendees.

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Reaching Leaders

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When we first began to plan the first Women’s Ministry Council meeting, we decided upon a meet and greet. We wanted to get to know other leaders, and introduce to them our vision for this ministry.  We began by heading to the internet and scouring local church websites, churches that we knew of in our community.

First, since we know of them (but didn’t attend) it meant they were an active church.  Second, active churches usually have up to date websites.  We figured instead of spending money on a mass mailing, we could visit the websites and only mail to churches that listed Women’s Ministries on their site.  We sent emails and good old fashion stamped mail too.

This is why I’ve written for years about making sure your Women’s Ministry is listed on the church website.  I can’t tell you how many churches didn’t include this information.  There were some that also didn’t have a mailing address or email address listed on their site.  It is really hard for new members or those considering a visit to your church if you don’t include the basics of where your church is or what it offers.

The first mailing briefly introduced our idea, and then gave the recipients an opportunity to respond back to us if they wanted to be added to our mailing list.  Our meeting and greet had about 18 women.  We have had meetings with as many as 40 in the last year.  It has grown quite a bit.

The additional growth came from reaching back out to churches and leaders via mail and email.  We even contacted the same church a few times.  Often I will run into a new leader and when they comment about how they have never heard of our ministry… my first question is to identify what church they are from.  In about 90% of the cases, I have mailed information about our ministry to the church address at least twice.  I have no idea why they do not pass it on to their Women’s Ministry leaders, but it has brought me to the point of making sure I sent something out at least once a year.

Finding email addresses for either the church, ministry leader, or just a woman who leads a Bible study in the church is helpful.  Usually a study leader is involved the ministry as a leader or attendee and will pass the info on to the right person.    This takes a little internet sleuthing.   Once I did attempt a google search to area churches, and there are mailing lists you can purchase.  In the end I felt, over all, this was not the best investment of time and resources.

Our number one way of meeting new leaders was meeting in a public place on a Saturday morning.  We met at a Panera Bread, and almost always there was a women’s study group there at the same time as us.  Someone would notice us, inquire, and take information back to their church.  The second way of meeting new leaders was for us to be present at things happening in our local churches.  If I heard another church as hosting a women’s simulcast event, I was there.  Women’s retreat that was open to non-members of their church?  I was there, too.  Denomination meetings?  Attend them.  Pastor breakfasts, I showed up at some.  Christian Business Networking luncheons, there I was.   Sponsoring a table or booth at a local event, always a plus.

Taking the time to get to know women in leadership vs. just sending out mailers was a third way that helped.  Either getting their information from the internet and reaching out, or asking for introductions from other members in the community.  We had some tshirts made up that I wear in public.  I did start social media accounts.  I would look for, and then make posts, in Facebook groups for our community extending and invite.

No matter how you reach out, make sure that you are being a good steward of your time and resources.

 

LeadHer Conference Update

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Registration is Closed.

There will be NO tickets sold at the door.

Due to the catering order already being submitted, we can not accommodate those who have not already registered for the event.

How do you know if you are registered?
* You purchased your tickets online.
* You tickets were coordinated directly with Gena McCown.

Have a Plan

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When we began planning the model for the Women’s Ministry Council meetings, we needed to first figure out how often and when we should meet.  One thing that we recognized was that in most cases Women’s Ministry Leaders were volunteer leaders not staff members.  Many of these women had part or full time weekday jobs, they usually served in their churches, and of course they were running women’s ministry for their church.

Due to these conclusions we decided the best thing was to have a quarterly meeting, on a Saturday morning.  Quarterly meant that we didn’t tax their schedules or take more time away from their family.  It was an easier schedule to manage and prepare for on our end as well.  Knowing that quite a few ministries had set meeting dates (such as always meeting on the first Saturday of the month), we found a unique solution.  We decided the WMC would meet any month where there was a 5th Saturday.   Turns out 5th Saturdays are only four times a year, which fit our quarterly plan perfectly.  Occasionally we had to reschedule, when the 5th Saturday landed on a major holiday (Easter, Christmas).

Only planning for 4 meetings per year means that we consider those dates with great weight.  For the first several years, our team would go to annual conferences during the summer and pick up resources.  We would develop our calendar around that.  From there you can begin to ask for feedback on what other topics to cover in the future.

For the first several years we also obtained donated books on leadership or ministry that we would gift to our attendees.  We are so grateful for the support of publishing houses that stood behind the work we were doing.  Eventually we stopped the practice.  Being a steward of these gifts was important to me.  We had limited seating.  I wanted to make sure those who were coming did so for the right reasons (fellowship, equipping, supporting) and not just free resources.  We still have little gifts we give to those who attend.  We want the women to feel loved on too.

In the beginning, we had 3 topics per meeting, over a 2 hour span.  Including time to fix a plate of snacks and coffee, bathroom breaks, etc.  Eventually we changed that up as well.  We adjusted the number of topics, invited community organizations and ministries to present, etc.  Ultimately landing on the right balance.  20 Minutes of Fellowship, 15 minutes of “Welcome/Announcements/Prayer, a brief 20 minute speaker. 5-10 minute Bathroom break, then returning for a 30 minute speaker, 10 minute presentation from a community group/ministry, and 15 minutes for closing announcements, prayer.

The community groups and ministries we invite to speak are the ones who are the hands and feet of Jesus in the community even if not part of a church.  Sometimes it is a secular program, as well.  The purpose is to educate our leaders of the need/work being done in the community, and then for the organization to let us know how our ministries and churches can partner with them.   This may be money/good drives, hands on volunteering, etc.  It connects the community and the churches, which is always a good thing.

Your very first meeting can be a meet and greet, where you just share your heart for gathering together as leaders.  Get to know one another, share the vision/mission, get feedback from the attendees on things they may be interested in speaking/presenting, or what subjects could be addressed.

Outside of these quarterly training meetings, consider other options like… fellowship nights, prayer meetings, and group service projects.  Optional events that just allow those who want to get to know each other better, deeper.

We have always kept our quarterly WMC meetings FREE, but we do take an offering.  We have a drawing for prizes among those who attend.  And, we also have a facebook group where we can communicate with each other between meetings for added support.

 

What is the Point?

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When we first began the Women’s Ministry Council, we didn’t want to start something that didn’t have purpose or value.  Honestly, this is how I feel about Women’s Ministry (or any ministry, organization) as a whole.    Why are we meeting?  What is the point of us gathering?  We needed a mission statement, a purpose.  We needed something that would give us direction for everything that we did, every decision we would make.

One of the first things we agreed upon was that God never intended us to do ministry on our own, that by uniting as ONE body we could accomplish more.  It was important to know what areas other ministries were helping in, so that we could identify where there was lack.  Our first point in our mission statement is to engage the leaders in fellowship.  In order to serve our community better, as a one body of different parts, we needed to know who those parts were.  What areas did their ministry serve in the community?  We had to know our fellow leaders, regardless of their denominations.

The second thing we agreed upon was that ministry leaders need encouragement.  When ministry gets hard, or frustrating, we need someone who understands.  To have other leaders who can share from their experiences on how they overcame hurdles in ministry, is a blessing.  Leaders filling in the gaps for other leaders out of their strengths, means that we all grow stronger, serve better, have deeper impact.    The second point in our mission statement is to encourage one another.  We need cheerleaders, and those who help lift us up when we struggle.  We also need to be that for others.  Spurring one another on.

The final part of our mission was probably the easiest, because we recognized that leadership material for women’s ministry was far and few between.  What was available was dated, how to plan events, or essentially a how to guide to start one from the ground up.  They didn’t address women in crisis, ministry burn out, or how to write a ministry budget.  They didn’t really go into the details of WHY we need this ministry in the first place, or what it’s purpose should be.  The third point in our mission statement is to equip the leaders toward more effective ministry.  We built a leadership team of experienced leaders, polling the women attending on what their strengths are, and putting the leg work in hunting down valuable resources/tools.  For five years we have run this ministry, between our in person meetings and content on the website.  We have yet to repeat ourselves, reuse previous trainings, or revisit old content.  There is really a LOT to be said about this ministry we call “women’s ministry”.

If you were to decide to start up a Women’s Ministry Council in your area, we would hope that you would adhere to our key values and mission already established.  However, perhaps the needs in your community differ than ours.  Maybe you need a different type of ministry, which is fine.  Just make sure that whatever you do is bathed in prayer, driven with purpose, and has a mission that you can weigh everything against.