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.