Whose Words Do You Believe? by Aimee Nelson

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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.

~Aimee

A Treatise on Discipleship By Trish Jones

“Vestiges of Vestal” (Do I have to have big hair?)”

This comment is going to date me, big-time – to the point where some of you might not even know to whom I am referring. But – I always wanted to look like Vestal Goodman.

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Internationally known as the Queen of Gospel Music, Vestal was a bigger-than-life, this-is-who-I-am-take-me-or-leave-me Southern belle. At Southern Gospel concerts, she easily commanded center stage with her gravelly voice, her ever-present hanky, and her flamboyant and flowing pant suits.

I loved those pant suits. I loved her style. I wasn’t a huge fan of her music, but I used to wish I could be more like her, or at least who she appeared to be. Unashamed of her size or her larger-than-life personality, Vestal Goodman was a “presence.”

So, for awhile, I tried to be a Vestal mini-me; right down to the Texas-sized big hair, five inches high and lacquered stiff enough to hold its shape in a downpour. I searched high and low for big-legged, flowered pants suits with long tunics in vivid colors. Found a few, too. I didn’t go quite so far as the hanky, but I did start quite a collection of chunky costume jewelry – something I’m known for to this day.

I watched what she did, what she wore, and how she acted, and did my level best to copy her mannerisms and her style. I was naturally a shy, lonely, and fearful introvert – but if I could convince myself to take on the public persona of Vestal Goodman, I could pretend to be someone I wasn’t. I learned to act like her, at least some of the time.

What I couldn’t have told you then – and still couldn’t until I Googled the singer’s biography – were the details of her life. Where she was born (Alabama) – how many children she had (two) – when she died (2003) – and that she battled an addiction (to prescription pain-killers after a fight with cancer). In other words, I didn’t know many real facts about, or was a true student of Vestal Goodman – I just tried to copy what I saw.

I was an admirer; a copycat; and a hypocrite. What I wasn’t – was a disciple.

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Discipleship. That’s a buzz word in today’s church, and in our women’s ministries – but what does it really mean? Perhaps more importantly, what does the process of discipleship look like? How do we do it? Do we just find someone in our circle of friends and church family who looks like they may “have it all together” and try to mimic what they do?

Well, let’s see. They seem to be fairly regular in church attendance and they’re part of a Life Group. My life gets a little crazy at times, but I can probably do better at being more faithful in my church attendance. Check that box.

I know they study the Bible, I’ve heard them talk about their quiet time. I’ve not been very successful at that, but I’ll try harder. Go find a good devotional book for women, get up 15 minutes earlier, and spend time with God. Check that box.

They seem to be always smiling and know so many people! I don’t really know anyone here, and I’m too nervous to try and reach out to strangers. Well, some of us are just introverts and that’s okay. I’ll pass on that one.

I know she does some volunteer work with some ministry to the homeless, and I’ve heard her share the Gospel with a waitress when we were at the same restaurant. I’m not comfortable doing any of that, but maybe I can give a little more money to missions. Check.

Of course, I’m still struggling with my unsaved husband, and I’m terrified that my teen-aged daughter is having sex with her boyfriend, and I’m tired and depressed and frightened most of the time, but I don’t dare share that with anyone, they all seem like they can handle anything. I’ll just do what she does and try harder and maybe then God will give me what I need to get through this life.

Check. Out.

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So. “Discipleship.” What is it? Is it just observing someone and trying to copy what you see? That, by itself, would be a daunting task. Is that enough?

Go deeper. In Christianity, who is a disciple? Are there two (or more) levels in Christianity; the first being a simple convert who stops there, and the second being a stage two Christian who learns more; and perhaps the third being a disciple-maker? (By the way, the Biblical answer is “no!”)

In passages like Acts 11:26 and Acts 14:21, the Bible is clear: disciples are Christians. No stages, no levels. Anyone who is a Christian, who embraces Jesus as Lord and Savior, is a disciple.

In what is known as the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19,20 Jesus gave his followers clear commands: “Go therefore and make disciples.” How? “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

John Piper comments: That is a very long process. That is like a lifetime of process. So get them converted. Baptize them. And then spend a lifetime teaching them to obey all that Jesus said. That is what the verb “disciple” in the New Testament would include. People need to become Christians and people need to be taught how to think and feel and act as a Christian.”

So the question rises again: “how?”

The Apostle Paul had a visitor while he was under house arrest in Rome. Epaphras, the teaching elder of the church at Colossae, was seeking Paul’s advice on how to steer his church clear of false teachings that were threatening to undermine their faith in the sufficiency of Jesus. Paul answered the pastor’s questions by writing a letter to the general body of believers and leaders of this church the apostle had neither founded nor visited.

He wanted to make it abundantly clear that Jesus was enough – in all circumstances, for all seasons of life, and in the face of all assaults, questions, and ridicule.

This is part of Paul’s answer – to them and to us:

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 1:27-2:3 ESV)

There’s so much in this passage, but the complete exegesis isn’t what I’m after right now. Paul has given us an outline of discipleship – what it is and how to do it – whether on a one-to-one mentoring basis, or in a group setting. The apostle concisely lays out the who, what, when, where, why and how of discipleship.

Who (are we disciples of): Jesus Christ. In us. The hope (certainty) of glory. The Treasure of all wisdom and knowledge.

What (are we to do):

1. We proclaim Jesus; we declare, announce, preach him publicly – who he is, why he has come.

2. As we preach Jesus, we also warn; we admonish, we caution everyone – he is the only Truth. Don’t be led astray by other teachings, false Messiahs, or difficult circumstances.

3. As we proclaim Jesus, we teach him; we impart instruction, instill doctrine, with all wisdom – in other words, how to apply what we teach about Jesus. What difference does knowing him make in our lives?

When (do we disciple): The verb tenses in the Greek in this passage make it abundantly clear; the process of proclaiming, warning and teaching is an ongoing, ever-present action. When do we disciple? All the time, at every opportunity.

Where (do we disciple): Everywhere we may be (for example, in a Roman prison) and to everyone we can reach by any means – even those who have not seen us face-to-face. Wherever God has given us a sphere of influence; there we make disciples.

Why (do we disciple): To present (bring near into fellowship) every believer mature and fully complete in Christ; so that their hearts may be encouraged (in the midst of a dark and confusing world), bound together in love; richly assured in understanding and knowing Jesus Christ – in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

How (do we disciple): We labor to the point of weariness; we work hard; we struggle; in fact, we agonize in the entire process of discipleship – but – with his dynamic energy which so powerfully works within us!

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Let’s go back to the Vestal mini-me. Or to those women you catch sight of at church every so often, who smile nervously at you as they hurry past after service, or stand against a wall in the crowded lobby before church service, looking vaguely uncomfortable. Take it from one who has been there, done that: they are longing for, looking for, connection and community. While they may not use the word or even know what it means – they are searching for a disciple-maker. A friend, a sister, to come alongside them and teach them about Jesus; teach them (in Piper’s words) “how to think and feel and act as a Christian.”

And that difficult, challenging, sometimes agonizing process is God’s calling on every believer’s life – no exceptions. That’s discipleship. And that’s our purpose as women of God and daughters of the King.

“For this (we) toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within (us).” (Colossians 1:29).

As in everything else in our walk with our Lord, he supplies all things needed to fulfill his plans and purposes in and through our lives – for the glory of his Name and the expansion of His Kingdom.

Let’s get to it.

Stand Up For Others – Isaiah 1:17

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As we reflect back on Charlottesville, and events like it, we are often lost in a sea of wondering “what can we do?” and “how should we respond?”.

Lord, give us the hearts to do good and a stirring to seek justice.  Let us not just speak against oppression but actively correct it, being the change we want to see in this world.  Let us stand for justice, stand for others, use whatever we have to raise up and protect others.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Some practical things you can do:

  • Donate to victim funds to cover medical and other expenses.  Donate to counter-protestor legal funds to cover legal expenses incurred.  Please use wisdom and discernment here.
  • Support anti-racism organizations through financial support or volunteer/activism.
  • Be willing to put your name to petitions and letter writing campaigns to local politicians that fight racism or call for policy change.
  • Coordinate, participate, or volunteer at local community forums to address racism in your community.
  • Use your voice to stand in the gap, advocating for those who are oppressed.  Not just with letter writing campaigns but in the grocery stores and doctors offices.  Places where we encounter every day racism, bigotry, and discrimination.
  • Hold people from political offices to your immediate family accountable for the words and behaviors they exhibit, including yourself.
  • Set a better example for the next generation by intentionally expanding your group of friends to include people from other countries and cultures.  Take time to learn about other cultures, attend festivals in your area, etc.
  • Read, read, and read.  Have a willingness to read and gain perspective from those on the other side of oppression.  Take what you read and ask your friends to share their take and experiences.

 

In the Beginning

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Mankind, made in the image of God.  Not some, but the first man… and all that have come after him.  Image bearers.  

Not made in image of one another.  Not made in lesser quality duplicates down the line.  Each precious to the potter who formed us in the womb, knitting us together, numbering our hairs, calling us by name before we were even a thought.

These image bearers made to rule over creation, not each other.  Oh sin, how you slithered your way into garden… setting up a wave of destruction that would fall upon generations to come.  

Woman made in His image, she the helpmeet and partner… not less than.

Blessed, commissioned to multiply.  Not some, but all.  There was no limit set on who could multiply, it was a blessing to His image bearers.  Oh sin, how you tainted that union and how to try to diminish His children.

Great Protector,

There has been a war on your creation since the beginning.  The moment the apple was bitten, there was enmity in the world.  Lord, we ask for your protection from all the forces that divide.  The lies that tell us that our worth, value, identity is found in anything other than you.  The lies that try and convince us that some have greater value, worth, or purpose than others.  For Your word assures us that in Christ there is neither Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female… but all are one.  Each given gifts, callings, and blessings appointed to them by the Holy Spirit to use in your service.  None greater, all yours.  Protect us, Lord.  From those who seek to harm us.  Protect us, from the schemes of the Devil.  Surround us on all sides, going before us and coming behind us; as we walk in your justice, grace, and righteousness.

We stand in victory, and pray these things in Your precious name.

Amen.

Has Much Really Changed?

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Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun.  So true.  Hate, prejudice, bigotry, racism… it is not new.  Sin is not new.  Ecclesiastes also tells us that was has been done, will be done again.  We should bear not surprise that these sins still run rampant.

This picture, was taken in 1992.  Twenty five years ago.  I look at it and I see Charlottesville 2017.  Things really haven’t changed that much, not in the heart.  But the boldness, perhaps has displayed itself in unprecedented ways.  The hoods, cloaks, and shadows are withdrawn, sin is exposed.

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For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. ~Luke 8:17 

Sin is out in the open, and with it has come a reckoning.   Parents and friends are seeing faces splashed across the news, their children and loved ones displaying their hate for the world to see.  Those secret things hidden in hearts are being confirmed as sin stares us in the face, desiring to make us meek and hide in response.  But let us not be meek, but BOLD as we stand up for what it good, honorable, holy, and righteous.

Creator God,

We pray that these wearisome things, that weigh us down… that seem too big or frightening to tackle down, let us see them diminished in to the shadow of your greatness.  Your word is true, that which has will be again.  We cling to that as a promise that Jesus will come again and overcome sin and death, destruction and division; standing victorious over his foe.  Lord, we ask for you to protect the eyes, ears, and hearts of the little children so that they may not be turned by the words of hate that others teach them.  Let them find joy, peace, love, and goodness in You.  May they have eyes to see, the way you see.  May they look upon all of your people, regardless of the color of their skin as sister and brother, created in the imagine of our Precious Father.  Bind the serpent that hisses in their ears, for he will be crushed once again.  Sin was here before my time, our time… but our future remains.  For you know the plans you have made for us, that is the future we await… waiting and yet praying LORD JESUS COME!

In this darkness, let us be light.  In a sea of hate, let us be love.  In a crowd of fists, let us be an embrace.  Let our churches and homes become a city on a hill, refuge for those who need safety, a fortress against oppressors, and a battle ground of prayer.

In Christ’s holy name we pray,

Amen.

 

Perfectly United

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Heavenly Father, 

In light of this weekend, where division cast brother versus sister, neighbor versus neighbor… we pray for unity among the family of believers.  As brothers and sisters, adopted into your family, we are called to bear witness to the love of our Father.  We are called to walk in your statutes, we are called to love as you have loved.  Every word in the scriptures falls under your heart to reconcile your people to you, united as one body, serving as one body.  Let us not fall into the temptations and schemes of the Devil, who seeks to divide and destroy.  Instead let us link arms, draw close to one another, bear each other’s burdens, and carry one another forward as we press on.  Send your angel armies to surround us on all sides, for what God has brought together let no man separate.  Let peace be on our hearts, let kindness be on our tongues.  Help us to not repay evil for evil.  Help us to love and forgive, even when it feels impossible.  As we put on the armor of God, we shall not be weary but find our strength in you, to stand up to the darkness and shed light.  Let our light shine brighter, let the lost find their way to you for comfort and healing in your embrace.  Give courage to those who will stand up and call out the sin that is racism, protect them and their families from farm, and build up the courage for others to stand with them on the front lines.  Let there be no division among us, but perfectly united under your authority… of one mind, thought, and purpose.

In His name we pray,

Amen.

Pause to Pray

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As a ministry, our core mission is rooted in unity among leaders… churches… community.  We take unity, a value, incredibly seriously.  It is threaded into every decision we make, direction we step.

As a ministry, we stand against any form of racism and hatred.  As one can not be united when racism divides, when hatred divides.

As a ministry, we do not support any movement or organization that would cause division among people or results in a threat to life, welfare, or wellbeing of those whom God loves.  His Word tells us, in John 3:16 that God so loved the WORLD.  Not part of the world.  Not some people in the world.  But the world, in its entirety.  All nations, tribes, and tongues.

As a ministry, we are on bended knee praying for the Lord’s protection and provision over those who find themselves in the wake of hatred, bigotry, and racism.  For our women who are affected by these images, know that we are praying for you and your family as you come to terms with the events of this weekend.

We will not stand for this.  We will use our voice in any way we can to help you, defend you, love on you.  Tell us how we can be FOR you and stand AGAINST this atrocious sin.

Event Recap – Budgets & Fundraising

 

Would you believe me if I told you we had a great meeting in July on budgets and fundraising?  That we could talk money is good and practical ways, getting in a laugh or two, and even benefitted from those who also had ideas to share in regards to ministry budget?

If you can’t believe it, you should… because it was an amazing meeting.  Thanks to Crossway Publishers, all of our women brought home a sample chapter of Chasing Contentment, and BH Publishing provided beautiful scripture magnets featuring Romans 14:19.  I loved this scripture because it speaks to exactly what we do as a ministry.

Peace.  Unity.  Building up one another.

Over the last few years we have given away some great books to our leaders, and we had a small stash of leftovers.  We used this as an opportunity to let the women grab a title they may have missed in the past.

Over the next few days, we’ll recap the highlights from this training event.

piggybanksWe’re going to begin with identifying some of the most common mistakes we make in regards to budgeting.  These are most common mistakes among ministries that are self funding versus receiving any budget from the church.  It is important to recognize these mistakes, understand why they are considered mistakes; so that we can move forward into the future with a better grasp on the importance tracking our spending.

5 Common Ministry Budget Mistakes:

  1. Failure to Keep Track of Ministry Spending:  If you hope to have a ministry budget in the future, you need to know what you are spending today.  Whether the money comes from a church budget or through donations made by the ministry team, we must keep track of our current spending in order to prepare for future spending.  
  2. Plan Events Without Considering the Budget:  Quite often as we plan events, someone will volunteer to purchase that item and count it as an offering to the church.  This is problematic for several reasons.  First, we can exceed our intended budgets without even realizing it.  Second, we can get too comfortable assuming that others will fill the gaps in our budget needs.  Third, as leaders of a ministry we are called to be good stewards of the funds we have been trusted with.  
  3. Not Reporting Ministry Expenses to Pastor/Finance Committee:  Many Pastors or Finance Committees may be entirely unaware of the cost of running your ministry.  They may not be aware that potluck luncheons still have expenses from childcare, speakers, and to materials distributed.  Just because you have not been given an official budget, or have raised the funds to fill in the gaps, doesn’t mean you don’t need to share these expenses with your overseers.  A quick report on your annual ministry expenses may open up the conversation for a budget or budget increase in the future.  If your spending exceeded the given budget, make sure to include how you filled the funding gap (fundraiser, anonymous patron, etc.).
  4. Assuming that No Budget Means No Money:  Just because you are not given an annual budget doesn’t automatically mean that there are no available funds.  You may be able to make a special request for specific events, purposes.  Additionally, your need may cross over into another budgeted area.  If you were planning a community outreach event, the church may have funds available in their outreach budget that can be funneled toward your event.
  5. Your Ministry Lacks Vision/Direction:  It can be tempting to plan your events month by month, however that is counter productive to budgeting.  Churches budget for an entire year, if you want to be included in the budget there must be a plan for the ministry.  You are more likely to get your ministry budget approved if you have planned for how you are going to spend it.  It is especially important to show that your ministry plans are part of the vision of the church versus working independently.  A planning session for budgeting should include determining the number and types of events you will have over the course of the year and what your anticipated costs are.

On Monday, we are going to dive into the budget topic more specifically.  Be sure to check back in!

Fishers of [Wo]men

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This weekend, I attended a workshop on the topic of branding.  As the leader of a ministry, and knowing the direction we are taking in the coming years it is important that I am learning about all aspects of ministry building.  The speaker, Faith James, said something that caught my attention.  She was giving an illustration related to fishing, and pointing out that to have a successful fishing trip you must know “what you are fishing for”. 

Do you know who your ministry is fishing for?

As a ministry leader, you may be tempted to give the most obvious answers…

Everyone.  Women.  The Lost.  The Unchurched.

I am going to challenge you to take that a bit deeper.

As Faith James continued her illustration she said, “You can’t boil the ocean”.  Her point rested in that we have to have a more focused vision of who we are trying to reach because everyone is a concept that is as big as the ocean.  This doesn’t mean that there is not an ocean of people who need help, but rather it is going to be impossible for us to help everyone with our resources and time.  We need to have focus.

Putting this in terms of Women’s Ministry, let’s explore the following questions.

If every Women’s Ministry started a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, that meets during the week… who is serving our single mothers, or teen mothers?

If every Women’s Ministry was focused on serving homeless women and children… who is serving our women who have suffered the loss of miscarriage?

If every Women’s Ministry chose to stand with their local Crisis Pregnancy Center… who is supporting the women who chose life, or supporting the local foster/adoption agency to care for these children who were given this chance to thrive?

If your Women’s Ministry is spread thin trying to serve too many different organizations at once, are you really making an significant impact vs. making the choice to choose one and serve it at full capacity?

What if instead of each Women’s Ministry focusing on a broad scope of issues, we each chose one that we were going to give our full attention to?  We come together as leaders and identify the needs of the community of women we serve (in and outside of the church walls), then each Women’s Ministry leader picks one that will become their ministry focus?

Imagine a wheel with spokes.  The center of the wheel is the Cross, that is where we are trying to bring women… to Jesus.  The outer ring of the wheel is all of the women in our community.  The spokes are the individual Women’s Ministries.

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Quite simply, there are just too many needs in our communities (and within our church walls) for one ministry tackle it all.  However, if we work together and decide which needs each of our ministries will focus on… then we are working together to meet all the needs more effectively.

How do we do this?

  1. Collectively identify the needs in the community we serve.
  2. Check with other WM Leaders to determine which needs are already being served, need more help, or have not been addressed by the local church.
  3. Meet with your Pastor to determine if the church already has a focused need, that you can bring the WM under to address the women of that “need group”.
  4. If there isn’t a specific “need group” that your church is currently focused on, meet with your WM Team.  Pray that the Lord would help your team identify which need will become the WM focus.
  5. Connect to local ministries and organizations serving these need groups to determine how you can come along side their work.  Research online if there are national organizations already working in this area that you can partner with and introduce to your area.  Or, research online the ways you can begin to serve this need through your ministry directly.

 

 

Women’s & Men’s Ministries – Statistics

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In the past, I’ve spoken to the topic of successful Women’s Ministries are usually in churches that also have active/successful Men’s Ministries.  Over the last few weeks, several articles have crossed my desk about women leaving the church and what the impact of that exodus will have on the church.  I decided to do a little bit of research on the topic.

What we know, and research supports, is that post industrial revolution there was a shift in the home and thus in the church.  As the men went to work outside of the home, women began to take on a larger role in the spiritual development of their children.  They also began to take on a more prominent role in the church as leaders and volunteers.

What we know, currently is:

 

  • The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.  (Some churches the % of female members can reach up to 70%)
  • On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches.
  • This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands. (Even if their husbands profess to be Christian)
  • Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.

There are more women attending, and participating in the active life of the church.  This is why you may see that Women’s Bible Studies outnumber their male counterparts. Or, why Women’s Ministry is still a vital ministry in the church… but Men’s Ministries are waning.

Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish

or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.

 

As I try to discover the roadblocks and obstacles for Women’s Ministry, one of the first questions I have asked is in regards to the presence of a Men’s Ministry.  Until I began this research, I didn’t realize that Men’s Ministries had declined to such numbers.

But why?  We have less Men’s Ministries because we have less active men participating in the church.

 

  • Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.
  • More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.

 

We have a realization now that in order to get the family to attend church on Sundays, we need to reach the women.  When the women come, they bring their husbands and families.  I’ve heard from several Pastors that they notice when the wives are not at church due to retreat, business, etc. that the men do not come and bring the children.  They take the weekend off too.  However a healthy church needs the men to attend… married or single, with the family or not.

When I was in MOPS Leadership, one of the most common complaints that I heard from these young mothers was a deep desire for their husband to return to the role of Spiritual Leader of their home.  They didn’t want this burden on their shoulders, and the Bible tells us this was never their burden to bear in the first place. 

A study from Hartford Seminary found “that the presence of involved men was statistically correlated with church growth, health, and harmony. Meanwhile, a lack of male participation is strongly associated with congregational decline.”

We must, as a church, begin to really understand WHY men have been on the decline in attendance and participation.  We must, as a Women’s Ministry, become advocates for Men’s Ministry in our church.  I have seen the effects of a waning Women’s Ministry on the church.  When a Women’s Ministry slows or stops functioning, we see the impact on the church as a whole.  Women’s small groups decline.  Women’s attendance and volunteerism in the church declines.  Women will begin going to parachurch events or events at churches which do have active Women’s Ministries.  This will often result in the matriarchs of the church moving to churches which do have active Women’s Ministries.

I would suggest the same could be said for Men’s Ministries.  As men’s ministries declined, the community connection or family connection of church went with it.  The men feeling less connected to their church and more connected to the people they spend 40+ hours a week with in their workplace, or people they have connected with over hobbies have taken precedence.   With their free hours, they would rather be actively doing something than seated in the pews.

New statistics are showing that one of the major reasons people are leaving the church is due to their desire to not be passive participants in church but active members.  Church has become a spectator sport for the majority as churches seek volunteers to fill the holes they need vs. allowing people in the body to use their gifts and talents as God has called them to.  They want discipleship, mentoring, and spiritual growth more than entertainment.

What can we do about it?

  1. We should engage the women who are already attending.  We are starting to see the exodus of women, and we need to stop that in it’s tracks.  Create and support Women’s Ministries that are discipleship focused, out reaching into the community with the purpose of bringing women to Christ.  Encourage the women to attend regularly and support their husbands attendance and participation.
  2. We need to encourage the creation and development of a Men’s Ministry.  This may begin with a conversation with our own husbands.  Just because they start the ministry doesn’t mean they have to stay in the leadership.  I’ve seen women take over or begin a ministry with the goal of finding and developing the eventual leader… Pauls finding their Timothys.  If your husband is willing to help get if off the ground, you can offer up your ministry skills & experience to help him.  This is not only an investment into the Men’s Ministry but the Women’s Ministry… and the church.
  3. Think ahead and work directly with your Pastors on the occasions that your women will be absent from church.  If you are taking your women to a weekend long Women’s Retreat or Conference, have a plan in place with your Pastor and Children’s Pastor about ensuring that weekend has something special for the men and children.  A post church barbeque, special kids program, special speaker for the men, etc. are all ways to entice the men to attend in the women’s absence.
  4. Begin a movement of spiritual gifts testing in your church, where you are actively helping people to identify what their spiritual gift is and figure out where they can be plugged in to the church.  The statistics suggest that men need a reason to attend church, so let’s give them one.  The same for our women who may have one foot out the door, lets find a place to help them connect to the church in tangible ways.

If the Women’s Ministry is supposed to be a ministry that supports the vision of the church, then that means the whole church.  While our focus may be on taking the vision to the women in our church, our leaders need to connect back into the church by supporting the other ministries and our Pastors.

Aimee Nelson once told me that “where the women go, so goes society”.  So, where do we want our men and children to go?  Let’s set the bar and encourage them to rise to it.  Let our Women’s Ministries be known to love women well, and the men too.

  • Our married women want their husbands to attend services.
  • Our children want their fathers to attend services.
  • Our single ladies want the single men in our community to be active members.
  • Our widowers need other men in the church that they can have community with.
  • Our older men need younger men in the church that they can mentor.

* All statistics are from http://churchformen.com/men-and-church/where-are-the-men/