Part of our ongoing contribution series: Leading Ladies: Devotions for Leaders
Sitting at my kitchen table a few days ago, I hear my five year-old yell from the patio, “I am strong, I am big”. Hearing those words I stopped what I was doing and decided to listen in on the conversation he was having with his friend. I hear him say again “I am strong”, “I am big”, “I can do it”, “I can do anything”! This time I hear his voice quiver. As I continue to listen I no longer hear their voices but the stomping of little feet. Suddenly this five-year old ball of anger comes running in and stands in front of me. Arms folded, lips pursed and his eyes filling with tears. He says to me “mommy I’m not strong”.
I kneel down, scoop him up in my arms and give him a huge hug. He then proceeds to tell me how his little playmate was telling him he wasn’t strong, he wasn’t big and that he couldn’t do what they were doing. I immediately sense a teaching moment and it’s one that I don’t want to let slip by. I pull him closer and begin to tell him that he is big, he is strong and there is nothing that he can’t do. I tell him that he’s all of these things because God says he is. I let him know that he can accomplish anything because God’s word says that he can (Philip 4:13). He looks at me and smiles, sticks his chest out and walks away with a swagger that would make you think he just conquered the world.
As I was thanking the Lord for the opportunity to impart truth into my son, it was then that I felt the Lord ask me “what about you Aimee, who’s words are you believing”? I took a moment to reflect on the question. And in the honesty of the moment, I had to admit I too have not always believed God’s word. You see I have often fallen victim to the same words that tormented my five-year old. Many times I have stepped out to do something for the Lord but back tracked or failed to launch out because I believed the words of others.
Whether those words came from a well-meaning friend or have spewed from a heart of hurt I listened to them, I believed them. I believed their words over the words of my heavenly Father who commanded me to be bold, strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6). His word also says that “I am more than a conqueror” (Rom. 8:28). I have made a choice to start believing what He says about me.
Are there some negative words you have believed? Will you believe what God’s word says about you? Join me today as I choose to believe His word.
Women are inherently emotional creation, emotional in how we connect with others and respond to the situations we are in. Men work on a different level, entirely. It’s why you can meet for your women’s study group every week and wish you could meet more often; yet your husband might be content with meeting once a month to check in with the guys. It is for this reason, emotional connection, the Women’s Ministry Council has a heart for building up a broad view of Women’s Ministry.
Brunches are great, as they fulfil our need to connect personally with others. Yet, they often lack deep instruction. Bible Studies are a great way to find instruction and wisdom. Yet, they often have a changing of attendees that prevents real relationships from forming. Small Groups, of set members who change study materials, may create a community; but too often those community groups can close out new people who bring their own wisdom and value.
A Women’s Ministry that solely relies on monthly brunches is not going to a have a long term deep impact on the spiritual growth of women in their church.
A Women’s Ministry that solely relies on Bible Studies and Small Groups is not going to connect the women in corporate worship and instruction.
We must strike balance.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
~ Hebrews 10:23-25
The same can be said about how diverse our ministries are. A Women’s Ministry that sits in the safety of the programs and offerings it has always provided is going to continue bringing like minded women. However, it will be a near impossibility to diversify that ministry program to include a broader representation of your church or community.
During the last WMC meeting, one point that both Aimee Nelson and Jenny Andrews was made is our common identity. Before all things we are Christian women, daughters of the King. This is our common unity.
I can eat, drink, and remember how Christ changed my life… regardless of what food is on my plate or drink fills my cup. I can do this at a table in a local café, or the home of a new friend. To sit and break bread with a fellow believer sharing our testimonies with one another is a blessing beyond measure. Regardless of our skin color or backgrounds, we love the same God.
It can be difficult to facilitate change in a ministry where many area already accustomed to certain events. We cannot facilitate change if we do things the same way we have always done. Yet, if you change everything you may bring in new faces and your women already invested may leave, which doesn’t help bring people together either. Change is hard. However we can begin to implement change in smaller measures.
What if I invited a worship singer from a local African American church to sing for the worship portion of our brunch?
What if I went to a local, family owned, ethnic restaurant and catered in dinner for our next guest speaker?
What if our next speaker was born in another country?
What if our next keynote speaker at our retreat was a woman rescued from sex trafficking?
What if our next Bible Study was written by an African American author or a woman from another country?
What if we began a series of events where we brought in women from various ethnic churches in our community to learn more about who they are, what their ministry goals are, and how we can help?
You don’t have to dismantle and rebuild a ministry to bring change via a total overhaul. You can begin to take small steps, over time.
Eat, drink, and remember…
we are all precious in His sight.
Panel Moderator: Gena McCown Panel Contributors: Jenny Andrews, Aimee Nelson
PLEASE NOTE: We allowed questions to be submitted anonymously. We made the decision to read the question as it was written, we were not going to adjust the questions at all. This kept our session authentic. We all agreed to receive the questions with grace, and good intentions. However, the answers may have been adjusted as this is a learning opportunity.
The first question was missed, which was what is the correct terms to refer to people of other races/ethnicities. The answer begins with the uniqueness we have in S. FL as we are an entry point and home to many first generation immigrants. In S. FL. African American does not apply to everyone who has dark skin. The audio carries on the answer defining the various ethnicities we encounter in S. FL and the rest of the questions.
Unfortunately we were moved outside for the meeting, which inhibited our ability to video the panel, and hit the audio with some unexpected noises. Praise God we have this to share with those who couldn’t attend.
We have decided that this subject is going to be continued in future discussions.
For those who were unable to attend the Mentoring and Ministering training event, we are ending our recap from our speakers. Today, we are going to share some of Aimee Nelson’s talking points about ministering to our mothers of unexpected pregnancies. Aimee is a Senior Pastor’s wife, speaker, author, and founder of YouMom. YouMom is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed for the purpose of providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young girls who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy
It is incredibly important for us, the leaders of the Women’s Ministry Council, to not only work on providing quality training for Women’s Ministry leaders and their team members; but also connect them to resources and encourage how their ministries will impact our community. Therefore we ended this year, and will be focusing the better part of next year on intentional discipleship. When Jenny Andrews spoke the group, she hit a very key point… mentoring is an intentional act. As leaders we need to be positioning seasoned women in our churches into positions where they can mentor the new believers. However, our reach doesn’t stop there.
I can’t think of a single church that hasn’t been impacted by an unexpected pregnancy. The truth is that every single Christian church was founded on the ministry of a baby born unexpectedly. When Aimee Nelson shared her heart for women who face unexpected pregnancies, she said two things that jumped out at me and I keep finding myself returning to.
Aimee Neslon didn’t waste one second to get right to the point, when she posed this question:
We would all agree that mentoring is necessary and pertinent, and in most churches we do it well. However, I want to pose a question. If a teen mother walked into your church, would there be a place for her to go and be ministered to?
Aimee Nelson, Founder of YouMom
Aimee pointed out that churches have conveyed strong messages about not having an abortion, and celebrating those who walk away from the abortion clinic. Yet, she hit us all right in the heart when she asked who from the church was going to walk alongside her now that she has chosen life? Strongly encouraging us to see this as an opportunity to share the love of Christ.
“On her Facebook Page, Aimee referred to these young mothers as the “Modern Day Widows” and that has struck a cord for me. These are young women who, regardless of the reason, are left alone to raise their children without a spouse at their side. If we are called in the scripture to help the widow, the orphan, and the alien… it includes our teen and single mothers”
Aimee shared about the work her ministry, YouMom, does within their community. This includes and intentional mentoring program where the mothers earn “bucks” to spend in their “store”. The community supplies things from diapers, clothes, formula, etc. for the “store” and the women can spend the “bucks” they earn by attending mentoring sessions and group meetings. These meetings cover prenatal counseling and birth coaching through helping the moms after the babies have been born. Mixed in with the practical mothering advice, these young moms are introduced to Jesus. They have celebrated many of these girls accepting Christ into their lives and being baptized. Aimee’s group is creating a legacy in her community.
A few months ago, I met a woman who shared the following story with me. She had been invited as a teen to attend youth group with one of her Christian friends. Her family didn’t attend church and she enjoyed the youth group and fellowship. Then, she found out she was pregnant. Afraid that she would set a bad example for the other teens, the Youth Pastor asked her not to return. She walked her pregnancy alone, and became a teen mom. A few months after her child was born, tragically the baby died. She not only had to endure the pregnancy alone, but also her grief and mourning. When the church eventually learned what happened, suddenly they wanted to rally around her. She declined their offer and has never stepped foot in a church again.
We need to do better as a church, and the Women’s Ministry can be a driving force in making this happen. We can reach out to our single moms in the church and in the community, in a positive and helpful way.
There were seven specific things that Aimee shared that we can do as a Women’s Ministry, and church, as we come up along side these young moms. We are going to highlight these points. If you would like more information, I would encourage you to reach out to Aimee Nelson via YouMom or find her on Facebook.
How can our Women’s Minsitries create this space? Aimee suggests the following:
Pray, and ask God to open your eyes. Are there any teen moms in your church or in your community? What are their needs? Do we have valuable resources that might assist them? Pray over what your church can do (starting a support group, financially supporting a community support group, collecting goods for a pregnancy closet, volunteering at a pregnancy crisis center). Pray for these girls, their babies, and that they will see their value in God.
Be an advocate for these girls. When you see someone speaking down to them, be a voice and stand up for them. Proverbs 31:7-8 says, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” And, Psalm 82:3-4 reads “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Aimee Nelson, YouMom
Aimee closed by reminding us that one girl’s yes, 2000 years ago, changed the universe. What could your yes change? When the church partners together and we walk alongside a young woman, we are letting her know that hope is in front of her. We empower and equip her, having an impact on two lives at one time.