Change in the Air {2017 is Coming}

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The year is coming to an end.  You have prayerfully considered whether or not the Lord is calling you to remain in Women’s Ministry.   As a team you have reviewed the past year’s successes and failures, and you have tapped into the women in your church for their opinions and perspectives.  The next step is to take all of that information and look forward to 2017.

Start with the Pastor

Before making any major changes or vision shifts in the ministry, this is a great time to check in with the Pastor(s).  If the WM goal is to be supportive of the church vision, consider that just as you may be exploring a vision shift … so may the church leaders.  The needs of our church and the community we serve may have changed over the last year.  The Lord may be pressing a new mission on the hearts of the leaders.

If the church mission isn’t changing or shifting, share with the Pastor what changes you may be considering.  Seeking his input will be helpful as you try to narrow the new vision.  Does this new direction fit within the mission of the church, does he support these potential changes or new direction, and questions along those lines will help you engage his support.

Don’t Forget Your Team

As the WM Leader, we spend quite a bit of time researching Women’s Ministry ideas and directing the team and volunteers.  We invest in our team as we develop their leadership skills, and in ourselves as we read books and look to leaders in our ministry field for inspiration.  When change is on the horizon, and the Lord is stirring something in us, it can be quite easy to internalize those thoughts.  However, even though we are the leader, we must not forget that we are part of the team.  When your team members feel left out of the process, changes catch them off guard, and they may question their value to the team.

Instead of walking into your normally scheduled WM team meeting and dropping a bombshell full of unexpected changes, bring the WM team into the fold.  Invite the team members into the process by including them in the early stages instead of waiting until you have made a slew of decisions.  At the onset, ask the team members to be praying with you about potential changes.  Need information?  Ask team members to help with the research or read books along with you.  Talk to other leaders about what has been working within their ministries.  Make the process a team effort and you will find the changes that results are exciting for the entire team, instead of surprising.  When the team is excited with you, it is a much easier to spread the excitement throughout the women in the church.

One Change at a Time

Most people are resistant to big changes.  The familiar becomes unfamiliar, the predictable becomes unpredictable, what they have always known becomes the unknown.  After the team has come to an agreement on what kind of changes the new year will bring, we should be careful to not implement all of the changes at one time.  Create a priority list of what changes can be made that won’t affect the body directly (such as team structure or position changes), followed by the program changes that are most important to least.  Take each change one at a time, allowing the women to acclimate to the change before adding in a new one.

Some changes are easier than others.  If you want to stop bringing in paid speakers and use the testimonies from the women in your church at your brunches, that is an easier shift.  If you have been holding brunches every month and you want to cut out brunches entirely, that would be a little harder.  In a change like this, it may be better to begin reducing the number over time than eliminating completely.   If you want to switch from packaged bible studies to leader led expository studies, there should be a process in place before making such a shift.  A plan that includes finding these leaders, helping develop their study and teaching skills, and the over time moving from one study style to another.

What is the Point of the Change

When you begin to remove aspects of your ministry program, what are you replacing it with?  This is not necessarily about quantity of programs and offerings, but can also take into consideration quality.  Having the ability to articulate the reason behind the changes to the women of the church will help transition through the changes more effectively.  When your team members not only understand and support the changes, they are part of the changes and will help defend those changes when criticism arises.

If you are lessening the number of small groups being offered, why?  Are you attempting to reestablish more intentional groups?  Are you going to implement a new group model that focuses more on mentoring?  If you are cutting out brunches, why?  Why does it need to be cut, and what is it being replaced with?  Are fellowship events being cut out completely or simply going in a new direction that would foster closer relationships?

I wouldn’t recommend making ministry changes without being able to explain the necessity of those changes.  The Lord will not prompt you to make a change without a reason.  Laura Masoner often reminds me that the Lord isn’t going to pull you away FROM without also pointing us in the direction of what He wants us to go TO.  Change for the sake of change isn’t really justifiable.  Change for the sake of improvement will always have a defense.

 

The End… or is it???

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At the end of the year, we reflect back on the past twelve months.  This reflection period helps us to determine what was working in our lives and what wasn’t.  We will make resolutions about our hopes for the new year.  Things we want to change.  New adventures we want to take.  Big decisions that need to be made, and small ones too.  We look to make our bodies healthier, and our minds stronger.  Some people will choose to leave a job that is not fulfilling, others will dedicate themselves to trying harder to land the next promotion.

The end of the year isn’t really the end, but rather the beginning.

The end of a chapter that leads us to the next step in our journey.  The end of a book is an opportunity to start a new adventure.  As long as we wake up on this side of heaven, there is still a place for our gifts and talents in this world.

What does this mean to Women’s Ministry?

It means that it is time for you and your team to reevaluate your ministry work, determining what events and programs stay and which should go.  But, it is also a time for self reflection.

* Are you still called to be the Women’s Ministry Leader?  (Or, other position title)

* Are you still called to serve on the Women’s Ministry Team, at all?

* Is the Lord calling you to a new ministry, or a season of rest?

There are times where we are called to step down from authority positions, but not necessarily to leave the team.  Your heart might still be dedicated to Women’s Ministry, but you are in a season that lacks the time to dedicate to the leadership position.  You can step down permanently or even select an interim leader and take a leave of absence.   However, there are times the Lord has a new place for your gifts and talents, and it may be time to leave the ministry altogether.  It is important to pray for discernment so that you know which is the path the Lord would have you take.  Keep in mind that the Lord may also call you to a season of rest.  I once had a friend tell me that the Lord won’t move you until He has somewhere for you to go.    I’ve learned that is not always the case.  Sometimes we are called into a desert period, where we have left what we knew… but we are not ready to go to the promise land yet.  The Lord may move you to a season of rest, where your priority is your direction relationship with Him; a season of growth and maturity to prepare you for the next leg in your journey.

If you have been feeling as if the Lord is moving you out of Women’s Ministry, then there are some other questions you should consider for the new year.

* Have I begun training my replacement?

* Have I made my team or Pastors’ aware of my intentions?

* Do I have people praying over me, my decision, and the ministry?

* If the Lord is calling  you to a specific ministry, have you reached out to their leadership team and expressed your interest in joining their work?

* If the Lord is calling you to a season of rest, have you prayed for clarity on what that looks like and shared this with those who will keep you accountable?

If you know in your heart that your season with Women’s Ministry is coming to a close, the greatest gift you can leave your team and church is a team that is going to function well in your absence and in the transition period.  Giving advance notice of your intention to step down, identifying and developing your replacement, and assuring your church leaders that you will be available to the new leader in an advisory role during the transition can make the process move smoothly. 

Final considerations, should you determine it is time to leave your role in the Women’s Ministry:

* How will you handle your exit?  Will you step away completely or ease out over a period of time?

* How am I going to handle team members coming to me with WM issues, now that I am not the leader?

* How will I handle members of the church coming to me with WM issues, now that I am not the leader?

Something I like to remind WM Leaders is that they leave a legacy.  Some women don’t like change, and when a new leader steps up it usually brings change along with it.  If you feel called to leave, then you have a responsibility to support the leaderWhether you choose to step away complete or ease out, make sure that you are encouraging the women you serve with (church leaders, church members) to take their concerns to the new leader and not to you.  Or, you can reassure them that all changes take time to get accustomed to and to be patient.  Being supportive of the new season allows you to leave a legacy that includes exiting with grace.

Authentic Intimacy Conference, Pt. St. Lucie FL, January 30th

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Click the photo, or HERE , to register.