Misconnected

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By Gena McCown

In a day and time where we are more connected than other digitally, our communities are responding with an increasing level of feeling alone.  When we look to the scriptures we see that community was a vital aspect of the local church.  Not only did they worship together, but they cared about one another on a personal level.  They tended to one another and carried each other’s burdens.  Communities worked together for the common good and because they were connected they were aware of what was happening in the lives those they called neighbor.

This led me to come to the very recent conclusion that we are not disconnected, we are just misconnected.  Experts have suggested that the problem with social media connections is that when one feels alone in their real life, they may turn to social media to connect and feel that void, and when that feeling of isolation doesn’t go away they dig deeper into social media to create more connections.  They are still seeking and looking for their tribe.  On the other hand, these experts have also suggested that once we are connected virtually the fear of missing out on what is being posted/shared may chain us to our devices verses going out and living life among others.

Disconnected seems so firm and final, like someone who has gone off grid or cut themselves off from society.  Disconnection happens when effort has left the equation of human relationship.  We have either made the decision to disconnect with another, or we have accepted their decision to connect with us.  I can’t believe a person who continually is seeking their tribe on social media outlets is seeking or accepting disconnection.  Instead they are trying to connect but in a different way, for whatever reason, and thus they are misconnected.  They are making connections but not the ones they need, which leaves the void they can’t fill.

What Can Women’s Ministry Do To Connect the Misconnected?

  • Connect the Women to Jesus – helping our women to understand who Jesus creates a foundation of self value and worth.  We connect them to Jesus through the Word which opens their eyes to a God who knows, hears, sees, and loves them… but who is also always with them.  We are never alone, when we are in God.
  • Connect the Women to Women in the Church – connecting women to other women who are also believers builds the foundations of community.  We have identified something we share in common, our faith, and embrace our connection as sisters in Christ.  As they begin to realize that they are not only walking this life with Jesus on their side but also a family of believers, the isolation will begin to dissipate.
  • Connect the Women to Community – through connecting the women to our community we begin to introduce purpose into their lives.  The more we connect with Jesus and our family of believers, the deeper our desire is to reach into our communities and serve others.  By connecting into our community we extend our community beyond what we could ever imagine.

How Do We Connect Women to Jesus: Bible studies, small groups, conferences, guest speakers, Sunday services, women’s brunches, retreats, workshops, etc.  It comes as we connect them directly to His Word via study, or as we share our testimonies via events.  

How Do We Connect Women to Women in the Church:  Ladies night/day out, women’s trips, retreats, brunches, fellowship events, concerts, movies, lunch dates.  Whether we start building connections through high attendance events or small intimate coffee dates, we are putting the building blocks in place for relationship.

How Do We Connect Women to Community:  Service projects within the church, local community, volunteering with local organizations and non-profits, local and international missions projects, etc. are all great ways to bring the women out of the church and into the community to serve.  By serving others, we often get to know them on a deeper level because we are meeting them where they are at.

Characteristics of Godly Leaders: Not Quarrelsome

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1 Timothy 3:2-3, speaks about the qualifications of overseers.  What does this mean to us as ministry leaders?  In 1 Timothy 3:3, Paul addresses quarrelsomeness.

Can I be honest with you, I love to debate.   I actually enjoy it.  I’m one of those people who can have my beliefs/opinions challenged and find debate a great way to learn.  I’ve changed my mind, held firmer to my beliefs, or walked away at least with a better understanding of how other people view topics.

My love of conversation and debate, however, can often be misinterpreted as quarrelling.  I’ve been accused of being argumentative, divisive, confrontational, and angry/upset.  99.5% of the time, I’m not.  I’m actually enjoying the process.  Over time, I have had to learn that how others perceive me is worth consideration.  I’m learning to temper my love of a good debate in order to protect relationships (personal and professional) and to make sure that my integrity is not questionable.

Now, after sharing that my intentions were not intended to be quarrelsome but often perceived that way… imagine what others think of you when you are intentionally quarrelsome.

Do you know that person?  The person who has some sort of a negative response no matter what you say or do.  Who argues about everything, can’t be agreeable; my mom would call them a “Contrary Mary”.  I remember once, as I finished assisting a gentleman, stating “Have a good day!”, and he curtly replied:

“Don’t tell me what kind of day to have!”

2 Timothy 2:24-26 reads:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.   (NIV)

There is so much in those words.  A quarrelsome person isn’t kind, they can’t teach because of arrogance, they are not patient, they don’t correct with gentleness but are often demanding, and they can be so caught up in being right/heard/followed that they are ensnared by pride… they end up doing more harm than good.

James 4:1 questions:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  (NIV)

The scripture in James is eye opening in that it puts the blame for quarreling not on the other person, but instead on ourselves.  It’s easy to justify our quarrelsome nature by trying to put all of the weight on another person.   But, an argumentative nature says more about who we are on the inside.  Matthew 12:34 tells us that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

If you find that you are constantly engaged in quarrels, arguments, controversies, and confrontations… as a Leader, it may benefit you to ask God to examine your heart and open your eyes to what your heart is full of.

 

Characteristics of a Godly Leader: Hospitable

Hospitality

I Timothy 3:2 speaks of another quality of a leader. Hospitality. It even says “…He must enjoy having guests in his home…” So you might say, “What? I have to enjoy having people over to my house? My house is not nice enough. It’s never clean. My kids and husband always have a mess going on. I can’t have people over. I don’t enjoy that at all!”

But let’s do a little thinking about this. If this is listed as a quality a leader should have, what can we do about this?

Did it say your house had to be clean and neat? No. Did it say you had to be perfect and have the most delicious meal prepared? No. Did it say you had to have the perfect children? No.

Okay. So let’s talk about the word, hospitality, first of all. Here’s the definition: “Hospitality: 1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. 2.the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.”

Are you friendly? Can you treat people nicely? Can you be generous? Surely you can.

Did it say anything about your home being perfect, looking like it came straight from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine? No. Did it say you had to have perfectly behaved children? No.

Can you invite someone over, open your front door, pour a cold glass of water for someone, and be warm and friendly? Most likely you can.

People are lonely and craving love and attention. They just want to know someone actually cares.

Now all that aside, let’s talk about your house. Those children. That husband.

The Word actually mentions everything being done properly and in order (I Cor. 14:40). Now it was not talking about our homes in this scripture, but if God thought it important enough to mention it regarding our church services, don’t you think He probably would love our homes to be orderly? I believe so.

When I first got married, I was still in college. My husband and I were busy with studying, working, trying to make a good start in life. I was so busy that I didn’t always put things away where they belonged. I thought I’d do it later. But I learned a hard lesson. If friends dropped by, it was a little embarrassing to have to clean off the sofa for them to have a place to sit.

Maybe I would be in a rush to make lunch, but would have to stop and wash a knife or pan before I could prepare lunch. Why? I had not done the dishes since our last meal. Oh, yes, I had the excuse that I had been in class all morning. Or I had worked all afternoon.

But I soon learned that “Do it Now!” was a good motto. Put that thing where it belongs now, not later. Do those dishes now, if possible. They will come clean easier than waiting until the gunk has dried and gotten hard.

I had friends whose homes always looked nice. Not that they had expensive furniture or decor, but most everything was usually in its place and clean.

It didn’t take me long to realize the difference. I began telling myself, “Do it now!” I also read books on home organization.

As children came along, I began to teach them the habits necessary have a clean, neat and orderly home. Trust me. It didn’t always look that way. We were not perfect. But at least we weren’t slobs.

What about those husbands? Ladies, here’s what you do about them: Pray! Pray! Pray! I learned that God could change my husband more in two days through my praying than I could accomplish in a year’s worth of nagging. Prayer changes things.

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So regarding hospitality, what’s holding you back? Make a list of things. Then start another list of what you can do to make changes. Start with one thing. Maybe it’s just establishing the habit of “Do it Now!”, not LATER.

Don’t wait until you’re perfect to start being hospitable. You’ll never do it. Find that woman who looks lonely or that couple who looks lost. Invite them over for dessert. That’s a start. No one said you have to “put on the dog” as we say in the south.

Just be yourself. What did that definition say? Warm, friendly and generous. That’s it.

Hospitality. It’s almost a “lost art”. Try it. You may like it.

As leaders our homes should be hospitable, warm … friendly… inviting… welcoming, to our spouses and children; as well as our neighbors, friends, and those we serve.  As we set the standard, let’s keep in mind that when those we serve see that we can still be welcoming into our own homes (as imperfect as they may be)… so can they.

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Characteristics of Godly Leaders: RESPECTABLE

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Character

We are called to be different from the world, to develop and display Christ like attributes.  We choose to be common, or we choose to be holy.  Just as the articles in the temple were consecrated and set apart as holy, we too must be holy and not allow ourselves to be used for common purposes.  Both our speech and our actions should reflect the character of Christ. If we do not lead by example, we are no better than the religious leaders in Christ’s day whose actions did not match their words.

Respectable

Paul calls godly leaders to be respectable in 1 Timothy 3:2.  The Greek word used is kosmios, which means orderly, modest, and virtuous.  This is where Latinized form of the word cosmos originated, with which we are more familiar.  We use cosmos to refer to the universe, but it also means to order, arrange, equip, adorn, and dress.  God put the universe in perfect order and dressed it in an array of light and color that mankind could never imagine, and is just beginning to discover.  He was deliberate and intentional in His creation. 

To be orderly is to adorn ourselves with purposeful and intentional speech, dress, and behavior.  What we say and do should always point to our savior and not to ourselves.  This means we should not be attention seekers.  Attention seeking takes on various forms, such as coarse language, suggestive dress, or unseemly actions, the opposite of which would be modesty.

Speech

Obscenity is used today by many for its shock value. It is also used by people who wish to be perceived as intimidating, and/or to sound common and fit in with what is considered the norm.  Paul says we should not use obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking (Ephesians 5:4).  This extends beyond using the Lord’s name in vain, for how does it glorify God when we use obscenity in our everyday speech or when we are angry? Likewise, we do not need to use obscenity to persuade unbelievers.  The Holy Spirit will appeal to unbelievers. We are to deliver the message in the manner prescribed by God and allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. 

Actions

Leaders should not engage in activities that bring disorder into their lives.  Examples would include the use of mind altering substances (legal or otherwise), such as marijuana.  Don’t allow the enemy to tear your testimony apart by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, and be very mindful of the effects of prescription medications.  We need to avoid being drawn into arguments, gossip, or negative talk.  When we enter a room, leave the desire to be noticed behind.  Avoid “showing off”.  

God gave mankind the gift of free will.  He does not order us to make the right choices.  We also need to understand that we cannot control others.  We need to step back and allow those around us to make their own choices, good or bad.  This includes husbands, we are to trust God to work with them and not engage in telling them what to do.  Asking and accepting their answer is keeping God in control.  A leader should be a good example of godly humility and trust, especially in our home.

Lastly, suggestive dress should always be avoided.  The enemy uses this as a snare and it will not lead to anything God honoring.  Immodest dress creates ungodly chatter among women, and lustful desires among men.

Always be mindful that as leaders we are being observed and often emulated.  What we do and say can be used by God for His glory, or by the enemy as entrapment.

 

Leading Well Starts With My Character

Screenshot-2017-11-6 InstagramWhat does it mean to be a leader?  If leadership is directly related to our character, then we can begin to dig through the Word and learn what God has to say about leadership characteristics.

We are going to begin to explore those characteristics over the rest of 2017.  That seems HUGE but remember, 2017 is almost over.  Plus, we will still have our regular contributors Jenny Andrews and Aimee Nelson providing leadership devotionals.  Sheila Thomas and Trish Jones will also continue to contribute to our teaching from the Word.  Make sure to like our page on Facebook so that you can keep track of new posts.

Trailblazing {Devotion by Jenny Andrews}

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I became the director of a mentoring ministry in my local church at the age of 28. To say that I was scared would be an understatement. I don’t know how many times I questioned God and His calling in my life at that moment. I thought to myself, often, surely this is a mistake.  Who am I to lead in this area?  But, the Lord knew just what to do with me. He gave me the strength and courage to persevere through the unknown many times.

I didn’t grow up in the church or how to start a ministry. I started to read books and educate myself on ministry; meanwhile I was in college going to school for a degree in accounting. It then hit me one day that I could use the tools I was learning in my business school to apply them to my new ministry. I became organized and started to see the tools the Lord was giving me in the business world as blessing for His kingdom. After 6 years in the ministry I had everything down pat. The ministry grew, and I am now teaching others how to start their own ministry in mentoring. What I also came to understand was that I was a trailblazer in this type of ministry for my church.

The word trailblazer is defined as:

1.a person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness; pathfinder.

2.a pioneer in any field of endeavor:

Isn’t that what leadership is? We are all leading in new areas of our life whether in ministry, at home, in the work place, or other areas. We are all trailblazing in leadership. I think it is amazing that there are no two people alike in this world and that the Lord has a specific call on our individual lives.

Most recently I was speaking at a Native American Women’s Conference and I met a woman who said to me, “Jenny you are pioneer for your people the Lakota.” Her statement impacted me in a positive way and made me reflect on all the Lord was doing in my life at that moment. He used her to remind me that He is the leader of my trailblaze and that He will be the one to set the path before me. I now trailblazing in a new area with a new season of calling in life, but I am embracing it thanks to that one sentence said to me.

We all get to be trailblazers. I know it comes with unchartered territory, but can I remind you that the Lord has already equipped you. I leave you with this passage in the Bible because it assures me that although this may be new area of leadership to you or me it isn’t to the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Worship in Women’s Ministry by Sheila Thomas

Hurricane Irma Recovery & Relief:  We are still collecting data on how and when our long distance friends can help the recovery and relief efforts.  Many areas are inaccessible until the power company can clear downed lines and ensure the area is safe.  We will update on how you can help as soon as information is available.  Please note, if you have family in The Florida Keys:  Power, landline phones, and cellular service is out throughout the keys.  However reports of those who stayed behind on the islands has so far been good.  They are ok, just unable to call family to check in.

What in the Word Series contributor: Sheila Thomas on:

WHAT IN THE WORD DOES IT SAY ABOUT WORSHIP IN WOMEN’S MINISTRY?

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Several months ago I was asked to speak about the importance of worship in women’s ministry today. I was honored and happy to do it. Why? It’s my heart. I love women’s ministry and I love worship.

So when thinking and praying about writing my article for this month, I felt led to share my thoughts again on this subject.

I feel it’s so important to ask God to show us how to worship. What does he want from us? He wants our adoration and praise. He wants us to “be in the moment” of praise and worship.

So many times it’s easy to be in a church service, but not really be there. You know what I mean? Our minds wander. We start thinking about our next day’s activities. What’s for dinner? What do I have to do tomorrow at work? Does my child have her homework done? Or worse yet, maybe you’re like me and you are easily distracted with the people surrounding you at church. “Oh, my! What was she thinking wearing THAT??!” Or “Gracious! She has a major sleep hole in her hair!”

Okay, maybe you’re not like me. I call it my crazy sense of humor. But really and truly, it could be me having a critical spirit. Lord, help me.

Years ago I found myself in a church where the musicians were less than good. Bless their hearts. They were doing their best, but for a music teacher (that’s me), I found it very hard to be able to focus on worship.

I began to talk to God about it and here’s what I heard Him say: You’re a music teacher. You are a trained musician. Your job all week long it to critique your students. It’s normal that you find yourself doing that in church. But close your eyes. Sing a little louder yourself and think of what you’re actually doing and not what they sound/look like.” I began to do that and found that I could actually worship God in spite of the less than excellent quality of the music.

Many things can distract us from worshipping God. Not even just in church, but in our everyday lives. We can find ourselves grumbling and complaining. We are sometimes just plain tired from all our necessary duties in our lives.

But God wants to be present in our everyday lives. Our days will go so much better if we will learn to praise Him instead of grumbling and complaining.

Worship is not just singing at church. Worship is done in our hearts and minds. So let’s look at what worship really is.

Worship:

The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.

Honor given to someone in recognition of their merit.

Take part in a religious ceremony.

A divine encounter with God.

You can see from these definitions that it does not necessarily mean to sing. However we have come to think of worship as music done in a church service. For the sake of time, I’m going to be focusing on that today.

As a voice Teacher, I was interested to know that there are actually health benefits to singing.

Singing helps you to live longer, produces endorphins (the “happiness hormone”), helps the body produce oxytocin, which helps reduce stress, improves your cardiac rhythm, reducing the risk of heart disease. And if you sing correctly, if helps train your stomach muscles and diaphragm. It is a great exercise for your lungs, strengthens your immunity, increasing the concentration of immunoglobulin A, helps your brain develop, and it’s the best method to get better memory. If you sing with other people, you’ll find yourself feeling more self-confident! That’s how positive singing can be!

God thinks music is very important. There are at least 63 scriptures on music in the Bible.

Psalm 104:33: “I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”

Psa. 47: 1-2: “Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the LORD Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.”

I Tim. 2:8: “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.”

One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

The Bible even speaks of winning battles through music. In II Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise him for the splendor of his Holiness as they went out at the head of the army, giving thanks to God because his love endures forever! And as they began to do this, the Lord sent ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, who were invading Judah, and they were defeated!

Battles are definitely won through our praise. When we sing and worship God together, we are creating an atmosphere for God to move. So important!

Our enemy, the devil, knows how important it is. Why do you think he messes in musicians’ lives so much? If he can cause them to be full of pride, jealousy, envy, lust, etc. , he can thwart God’s plans.

Many believe that Satan was the worship leader in heaven.

Christian and Jewish Biblical scholars draw conclusions from Ezekiel 28:12-17 and Isaiah 14:12-14, claiming that Satan was once an angelic musician; a great worship leader of Heaven. Equally studious examiners of the Word debate that these Scriptures are not referring to Satan and/or that referring to him as a worship leader is not indicated.

Whether or not Satan was a heavenly worship leader before his fall from heaven may be an ongoing debate until Jesus comes back. That he is an adversary of God is supported obviously in both New and Old Testament Scriptures (Zachariah 3:1-2;Job 2; Matthew 4:1-11; I Corinthians 10:21; Revelations 20:10).

Satan hates those who choose to praise and worship the Creator and he fights against them. He is especially concerned when believers gather together for corporate times of praise.


Focus on God creates the humble heart that attracts the favor of God. So Satan attempts to redirect the believer’s focus to anything but God. The most common way the enemy tries to interrupt the flow of corporate praise and worship is by stirring up pride and/or fear.

Whether it’s true or not that Satan was the worship leader, he definitely hates worshippers. How many times have you seen him affect the music as well as the people involved in church music?

Praise is a weapon of spiritual warfare. We must use it!

There will be music in heaven. The Bible speaks of it. Rev. 19:1-7 talks about singing, mass choirs, harps and being played.

We know that music is a gift from God and is important to Him. And not for just our pleasure, but to worship Him, to conquer the enemy, and for our own well being. I believe that our participation in worship is getting us ready to worship in Heaven.

In women’s ministry, worship is needed. Women are tired. They come to a church event needing to be refueled. Not only do we need to know the Scriptures and have fellowship and discussion time. Not only do we need to know ABOUT God. But we need to experience, worship and show our love to God. He loves our adoration and praise.

Battles are won through our worship. It takes our minds off ourselves. We put our thoughts and hearts on God. We lift our hands in praise and worship to Him.

Heaven is going to be a place full of worship. We are getting ready to participate in the BEST WORSHIP EVER!

“When we, God’s people, come into His presence with thanksgiving and praise, warfare is waged against our enemies, and our battles are won by the supernatural power of God. In the face of challenge and persecution, God’s people are to unite and praise Him. The enemy has no chance of winning against people who are consumed with praising God. There is no victory against those who rejoice in God’s great glory.” (From “Extravagant Worship” page 52 by Darlene Zschech)

II Chron. 5:4-8, 11-14 says that they were joining in unison in one voice giving praise and thanks to God. There’s something powerful about being in one accord. They were accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, and they raised their voices singing, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

Then it says that the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filed the temple of God. Who knows what would happen if we as women would get together and just praise Him together in unity.

God wants to meet with us. He wants us to have an encounter with the Holy Spirit as we worship together. It’s not just a duty or a part of the program to have a few little songs to sing. What would happen if we totally abandoned ourselves in worship and didn’t care what anyone else thought?

I realize there are programs and time constraints. We have to be considerate of those things. I don’t know about you, But I’m hungry to experience the fullness of God. To really see Him move. See permanent change in women. In our relationships. In our marriages. In our children and grandchildren. In our finances. In our health.

In order for this to happen, we have to spend some time with God. It just might be a sacrifice worth making. Granted, some are not comfortable with that. What if something weird happened? What if someone gets out of order? You know, I just think God is big enough to handle that. Are we really willing to forfeit the move of God because we fear something will get out of order or weird?

In God’s presence is where we get revelation and transformation. It’s where miracles happen. Lives are changed. People are delivered and we become more like Christ.

Let’s be willing to get out of our comfort zones. Let’s ask God to come visit our women’s ministry. Let’s not have our plans so firm that we can’t allow God to do what HE wants to do.

It’s not OUR ministry. It’s GOD’S ministry. Let’s welcome Him. Maybe more people will be changed than just in following our little ideas for ministry.

I’m tired of status quo. I’m ready for God to move. We need God. Our nation needs God. We could be the change the world needs to see! Let’s pray.

The People We Need in Ministry Work

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I’ve always loved the hands in group huddle.  I believe what is most appealing about this type of encouragement is how no one person stands at the center.  Hands from every direction reach into the center, combining together to create a woven tapestry of people working together to accomplish a task.

Our lives as Christians are not meant to be lived alone, in solitude.  The Lord calls us into fellowship with our family of believers.

Leadership is not meant to be lonely either.  Jesus had his twelve.  The apostles traveled in groups, sometimes with one another or at minimum among their supporters.  They relied on one another to discuss the matters of faith.  When a lot of mixed messages were being sent out, they convened at the Council of Jerusalem in order to set things straight.

I would dig even deeper to point out that the twelve who followed Jesus were not mirrors of Christ, nor each other.  Each person had a different history and story to tell.  They had different personalities and roles to play in the every day work of the ministry.  We too, as leaders, need people who fulfill different roles in our inner circle.

We need a mentor, and we need someone we can teach.  We need an encourage, as much as we need the skeptic in our lives.  We need someone with wisdom and discernment, as well as someone who has the gift of prayer.  We need those who will walk along side us, willing to disagree with us, willing to discuss difficult matters with us.

And, as we build our Women’s Ministry teams… we should seek these same types of people to fulfill those roles.  We can’t have a team made up only those who encourage.  We need people who have passion for teaching and hospitality.  We need people who heed the call to pray for the church, the ministry, and the community.  Women who are fiscally gifted as just as important as they are good stewards with the ministry budget.

Over the next few weeks we are going to explore some of the roles of our leadership teams.  What is the role?  Why is it important?  What does the Bible say about it?  And, how do we find a person to fill that role?

Don’t forget to visit our EVENTS page and RSVP for upcoming events!

Ministry Spotlight: MOPS International

 

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This month, across the country and in many parts of the word, mothers of presechoolers are gathering at local churches for fellowship, support, encouragement, resources, and relationships.  An exciting facet is that Jesus is always invited too.

When my husband and I relocated to a new city, over an hour away, we didn’t know a single person here.  At that time we had an 8 year old and a 4 year old… however within just a few months I found out our third was on the way.  We were still trying to find a church home, our neighborhood didn’t have any other families with young children, and I was so very alone.   My first thoughts were:  “I need to find a MOPS group”.

I was already familiar with MOPS from my previous city and I knew that finding a local group would be a great way for me to meet people in my community that were in the same stage of life.  I also knew that MOPS groups were made up of women from various churches, which gave me an opportunity to be a part of a group while we were still searching for our home church.  For me, MOPS was a way to plug into community.

Over the last 17 years, I have watched women come to MOPS for many reasons.  What I also saw was how much MOPS became an avenue that led women and their families into the church.  MOPS Moms would sign their kids up for VBS.  The next year they were signing up as VBS volunteers.  They would trickle into family or kids events at the church, and then you would begin to see them at church on Sunday mornings.

There were some moms who ended up staying in our MOPS group, but their families would attend a church closer to their home.  Some would even start MOPS groups in their new church home.  MOPS is a blessing to both the mothers who are served and the churches in which they become part of the community.

Many communities, like our own, have MOPS groups with waiting lists because they’ve reached maximum capacity.  MOPS is one of those ministries, that in my opinion, you simply can’t have enough of.  Staring a MOPS group is an easy process that begins with the desire to serve our mothers with preschool aged children.

If you are interested in starting up a MOPS group in your church and community, visit their website or speak with another local MOPS leader.

 

 

Is Your Ministry Visible?

commserv

On a Saturday morning, when your women’s ministry gathers to serve… who are you serving?   Is it the women of your church?  Their friends, family, and coworkers whom they invited to share in the day.  Or, are your tables filled with unfamiliar faces?  Faces that wear the marks of pain, struggle, loneliness, and longing for something they can’t put their finger on.

On a Saturday morning, when your women’s ministry gathers to serve… where are you serving?   In the comfort of your sanctuary, singing praise music, taking an offering, listening to a speaker?  Are you in the banquet area of your church, detailed centerpieces, a spread of homemade foods to feed an army, watching a bible study video, and having table discussions?  Or, are you out being the hands and the feet to those who are living on the streets, struggling to pay their bills, pulling weeds, painting houses, reading to the blind, shopping for the invalid, and serving the “least of these”?

Let me assure you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with serving the women of our church.  The women in our churches need encouragement, accountability, opportunities for growth, mentorship, and in their times of need we have a responsibility to minister to those needs.  However, this can not be the extent of how we serve our community.  We need to be willing to step out of our comfort zones and church walls.

When we serve the community, we serve like Christ.   When we serve those who are overlooked or outcasts, we serve like Christ.  When we serve others who serve, we serve like Christ.  Look to your community and ask yourself… if I was looking for Christ, where would I find him?  Who would He be talking to, who would He be serving.  Then go, and serve.  I guarantee that He is serving along side you… as you serve the body, He touches their spirit.

What are some tangible ideas for serving your community?

  • Host a luncheon for those who are serving the community in your area, to thank them for their service and to help them refuel their bodies for their work.  I would not limit yourself to only “ministries” either.  For example, you could contact a local food bank and offer to host a thank you luncheon for their volunteers.   Treat the teachers who work in the most troubled schools to a breakfast treat or catered lunch.
  • Host a baby shower for the local crisis pregnancy center to restock their inventory of goods they distribute to their clients.
  • Pack up bags for the homeless that contain a snack, hygiene items, etc. and plan a date to hit the streets and distribute them.  Pinterest has a ton of great suggestions for this project.
  • Host a luncheon for women who are being freed from the local prison, as part of their transition process.  Feed them, pray over them, find out what needs they have for reentering society, and then see what you can drum up.  Coordinate with a local salon to host a day of free haircuts for the women, a local thrift store to give each woman a certificate for 1 complete outfit for interviews.  Find out what items they can take ba the prison with them, and make gift bags filled with those items to bring back with them.  Or, find volunteers willing to go to the prisons and pray/minister to the women.
  • Volunteer at local soup kitchens, women’s shelters, etc.  Give time, or even begin a regular process of collecting donations for their needs.  Include bringing those needed items as part of your admission to an event.
  • Find local speakers for your events who are willing to donate their time, while the money from the tickets goes to organizations in need within the community.  Use your brunches as an avenue to collect money or goods.
  • Hold your next brunch somewhere in the community, a local restaurant or park.  Post signs that the community is welcome.
  • Find empty nesters in your church who love children, and pair them up with young teen or single mothers for mentoring.  These are women who need childcare in order to go to work. Foster a real relationship building opportunity.
  • Partner with other churches and create a support group for our Female Combat Veterans.
  • Create a tutoring center for single mothers who are trying to earn their college degree (or high school).  Or, a workshop that teaches English to speakers of other languages.
  • Bring gift baskets to the local strip club for the women who work their, remind them of their value.
  • Host bible studies in community centers, retirement homes, nursing/rehab facilities.
  • Find a neighboring church and host a lunch for their ministry leaders (Pastors, staff, study leaders, ministry leaders).

These are just a few ideas on what you can do in your community to let them know they are seen, known, and cared for.  Just close your eyes and pray… “Lord, give me your eyes to see the needs.  Give me courage to step out of my comfort zone in order to serve those whom you love.  Point me in the direction in which you want me to go.  Here I am Lord, send me.  Amen.”