Team Series: Hospitality by Gena McCown
Hospitality is probably one of the most beautiful words in the English language, especially if you are a Southern Girl. Hospitality smells of fresh brewed coffee on the other side of an unlocked door, where the mat says “Always Welcome”. It reminds me of a time where friends just stopped by to shoot the breeze, and inviting people into our home was a regular occurrence. Women gathered around the kitchen table or in the livingroom, bibles open and snacking on homemade lemon bars. Sweet Tea on the back porch as we prayed over each other. My Great Aunt’s perfumed powder wafting across the nose of every woman she greeted with a hug as they crossed her threshold.
Hospitality is what makes us feel welcomed into a space, warm and relaxed… at home.
There are some women who are simply PRONE to hospitality, it is their genetic code. They will look for ways to invite people into their home. Quick to volunteer to host a luncheon or meeting. There will always been enough food, and drinks. The bathroom will smell of fresh dried lavender. There will be a chocolate mint on every pillow at the retreat center. She lives to make people feel special, and loved.
This woman is important to your Women’s Ministry, this is a role to be on your top priority to fill. Why?
Hospitality Leaders are:
Their Role in Ministry:
A note of caution, women who have the gift of hospitality are often creative types. Which means for events like retreats, you may do best to pair them with an A type personality. One is in charge of the schedule, finding the speakers, planning the technical side of the event; the other is responsible for the meals, special touches, speaker gifts, etc. It is important to know your women, their gifts and strengths… as well as their weaknesses. Occasionally you have the blessing of a woman with the gift of hospitality and administration, and she’s the gal whom you can give the whole task and trust she’ll get it done.
Women with the gift of hospitality are also typically generous and will have beautiful ideas to make women feel special and welcomed at events. However, these special touches can impact your event budgets. It is important to be clear with your hospitality leader the budget she has for her tasks. I have known many of these women who would be happy to pay out of their own pockets to make up the difference, but I do generally ask them not to. Simply because we need to keep up a budget that all team members present and future can work with. If she supplements her budget, out of pocket, yes the event will be magnificent… but it may be hard for a future leader who replaces her to do the same. Encourage these women to do the best they can within the agreed budget, but don’t be surprised if they “gift” a thing or two over time.
Team Series: The 2nd in Command by Gena McCown
One of the first tasks any good leader should do is to find, appoint, equip, and build up second in command. A President has a Vice President, executives have junior executives, even Pastors have Associate Pastors or Elders they can call on. Why is this an important role to fill on your ministry team?
What if the Lord removed you from your Women’s Ministry right this second? What would happen?
A family emergency takes you unexpectedly out of town. One of your children become hospitalized. Your spouse gets reassigned and you have to move this weekend. You are threatened with a health crisis of your own.
Any number of things can happen that will unexpectedly pull us away from our ministry work, sometimes it is temporary and other times it is not. Could your team function in your absence? I’ve always felt the mark of a good leader is that their absence is not noticed.
I have been on a team where this happened, and we were left scrambling. It wasn’t that she was a bad leader, in many ways she was a great leader. However, she had never taken any one under her wing to serve as a second in command. When she left, we had a lot of plans on the calendars but none of us knew all the background info that she had been working on. There we many decisions that needed to be made and a weight of uncertainty in the air. Had there been someone working directly under her, who had knowledge of these details… it would have been a much easier process.
There are primary two ways you can work with a second in command, the first is similar to a hierarchy structure. This leader in training is kept up to date with the details of the ministry, but doesn’t have any more power than other members of the team. You will walk them through the ropes of running the ministry, but you hold all executive power in the final decision making. Their purpose is to be ready to take over the reigns of the ministry, should the time come.
The second way is as a Co-Leader, this woman will have a bit more power/pull/weight to her opinion than other team members. She may not have the ultimate say when it comes to the ministry decisions, but her opinion carries greater influence. Her role is to slip in and out of leading the group as needed. This is the woman who can fill in while the leader is on vacation, or take over for a matter of few months when a leader is going through a crisis. In a large ministry, you may even have more than 1 co-leader and even give them particular team members that they oversee.
In both cases the Women’s Ministry Leader is responsible for developing these future leaders to take over her job. However in the case of a Leader in Training, this is your ace in your back pocket that you bring out only when you need to. Whereas a Co-Leader has a far more active role in the ongoing ministry work.
A Second in Command Leader Should:
What She Should Know:
In the past, Women’s Ministry Leaders have created binders full of important ministry information that could be passed like a baton to incoming leaders. Now, we can share documents online via google documents (if you have a gmail account). This helps leaders stay connected, work and update tasks between meetings, etc. If you are interested in starting a Women’s Ministry Binder… check out Pinterest for GREAT suggestions, printable worksheets, and more.
I love to see these developing leaders active versus people I siphon information into. So, intermittently as part of training, allow her to completely lead a meeting from start to finish. You can work her up to this by giving her small responsibilities and increasing them over time. Give her a larger task to oversee, like planning a brunch or finding new small group leaders. See if she has a passion for something to add into the ministry that you can put her at the helm, like a prayer ministry or mentoring program.
While it is great to have a second in command who has a similar ministry vision as you, it’s also great to bring someone along side you that has new ideas to bring to the table. You may wish to strategically develop a younger woman, select a woman who is transitioning out of another ministry leadership role (previous MOPS Leaders are great for future Women’s Ministry Leaders), or you could find someone that just has a HUGE heart for women. While experience isn’t necessary, their level of experience will determine how much time you need to spend developing their skills.
We can predict when a changing of the guard is going to happen, but when it is within our ability we should make sure this woman is fully ready to assume command of the ministry before we retire or voluntarily step down. You can begin by steadily increasing her leadership, while culling your leadership back. This also makes for an easier transition for your team members who have served loyally with you over the past years. Give your team members advanced notice that you are planning to step down in a few months and that you are transitioning the new leader into place. When they come to you with questions or concerns funnel them toward the new leader instead of dealing with it yourself. You are not only training a new leader, but the team to trust her leadership.
If you plan on still serving with the Women’s Ministry after stepping down form leadership, I recommend taking a few months off. Allow the women to get accustomed to serving under the new leadership, and then ease yourself back in. Leaders leave a legacy even when they don’t intend to, and it can take time for members to adjust to a different leadership style and new ideas. Change is hard, even in ministry service.
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!
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.
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?
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.”
It’s back to school season! Women’s Ministry groups around the country are full of mothers who are navigating the waters of back to school.
Some are watching their children enter their school years for the first time, tear soaked tissues in hand.
Others are wrapping their heads around new teachers, dress codes, schedules, and shopping.
Then there are those who have their hands on a whole box of tissues as their children enter their senior years or head off to college.
How can we minister to our mothers?
The Women’s Ministry Council had another great training event on the value and importance of integrating Prayer and Worship into your Women’s Ministry Programs.
We would like to thank P&R Publishing for their donation of Susan Hunt’s Prayers of the Bible Study and Leader Guide, for each woman in attendance. Additional thanks to The Good Book Company, who donated copies of 5 Things to Pray for Your Church. Table Talk Magazine (from Lingonier Ministries) also donated copies of their back issue on Worship Matters. Moody Publishing provided our women with sample chapters from two newly released studies I am Found and An Unexplainable Life. Crossway sent our women sample chapters from their book Praying Together . Talk about a great group of resources for our leaders and their teams!
If your Women’s Ministry is looking to partner up with some ministries, for the first time at a council meeting we highlighted two ministries that are doing great things in the world! The first is The Freedom Challenge, which works to free women and children from sex trafficking, sex slave industry. If you have women in your ministry who love physical challenges and have a heart for these women, be sure to look into this great ministry. However, if your women have a heart for children in impoverished nations… One Child Matters is a ministry that opens up the doors to sponsor children, have missions trips to their development centers, and impacts the communities abroad as well as in our church. Both of these ministries were featured in our July and August Ministry Spotlight articles.
Now for the meeting recap, in case you missed it….
Our first speaker, Sheila Thompson, addressed the importance of including Worship as an intentional part of our Women’s Ministry events. While worship can be defined in various ways, Sheila (who has a music background and credentials) talked specifically about the musical forms of worship. Highlighting scriptures that reference of song and musical instruments as worship, Sheila was able to provide us with the biblical foundations of this style of worship. However, Sheila dug deeper and covered the physical, mental, and health benefits of singing. The Lord is so good to give us an act of worship that helps us in not only spiritual ways… but our bodies and minds.
Sheila shared how in the scriptures (and it is referenced over 63 times) that music is a posture of worship to the Lord, a weapon in battle, invites the power of the Lord into our lives as we praise, and that the Lord even sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). We discovered how many of our worship songs are rooted and sometimes directly quoted from the scriptures to provide us strength, encouragement, hope, and trust in the Lord … as well as, songs of praise and thanksgiving.
In our Women’s Ministry events, Sheila pointed out that by starting out our events with a few praise songs… we are setting the tone for the event. Women are able to surrender and let go of all the junk they came in with. They are preparing their hearts and minds to receive the word the Lord has for them. They are in a better mood going out than they were coming in. These songs stick with us as we move through the day, and we find ourselves returning to them. Additionally, there are times where despite the troubles and the trials we are going through, we can choose to sing in victory!
Integrating worship into your Women’s Ministry program can start with simple steps… such as including Worship songs as part of your Women’s Brunch or even at the beginning of your small group sessions with a song or two. One of our council women spoke up and shared how they conclude their meetings with a song, so the women leave on a note of praise & hope. As a Women’s Ministry Leader, you can take this even a step further by planning Christian Concerts into your calendar by either attending local concert events OR by hosting a night of Worship at your own church.
Our second speaker, Gena McCown, addressed the importance of having a posture of prayer and fostering a solid prayer life among the women in our churches. Gena began by pointing out the relationship between singing and praying. As we look to the Psalms and other areas of scriptures we see many prayers were lifted up by the body in the form of song. There are numerous references in the scriptures about our call to prayer, why we pray, what we pray for, and how we are to pray.
The call to pray is marked as something we are to do continuously, without ceasing. Prayer is not an occasional thing we do when we need something from God, but a regular habit. As ministry leaders we model this posture of prayer for the women in our churches, but we are also put into a position to teach people how to pray. Some are gifted by the Holy Spirit with the gift of prayer, others need to be helped along the way. Even the disciples asked Jesus, “How do we pray?”.
The scriptures tell us that men ought always to pray (Luke 18:1) with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2), without fear or doubting (1 Timothy 2:8) and calling on Him in truth (Psalm 145:18). We pray to seek Him, in our distress, to seek provision, for healing, in confession, seeking forgiveness, and in thanksgiving and praise. It is part of our daily habit, without ceasing (Luke 6:12, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
How do we pray? We can use the scriptures, such as The Lord’s Prayer or the Psalms. We can allow the scriptures to inspire our personal prayers, use our own words voiced outloud or written down, and we pray even when we can’t find the words. Romans 8:26 reminds us that through the Holy Spirit the Lord hears our groaning. We are praying in our lengthy conversation with the Lord, or when we simply cry out “Oh, God!”.
As leaders we model prayer when we use it at the start, ending, or even in the midst of our events and small group studies. We model it when we stop what we are doing to pray for someone on the spot vs. telling them we will pray for them later and adding it to our list. We pray and share those prayers within notes of encouragements, a quick text that says the Lord put you on my heart today and I wanted you to know I was praying for you, and when we specifically ask people how we can pray for them.
We foster prayer life among our women, when they hear our prayers. When we start off our leadership meetings praying for the church leaders and our communities. We set the example, but we also teach. Include a small group on how to pray, or invite one of your prayer warrior women to lead a prayer ministry in your church. Have a workshop series on different prayer methods and habits, invite a speaker for your next brunch that will guide your women to a posture of prayer. As it becomes a more common practice in your Women’s Ministry leadership team, it will spread to the women in the church, and into our communities.
We must also be willing to share our testimony on prayers, so that women not only understand how we pray… but how the Lord responds to those prayers. We share our answered prayers, praising God. We share our unanswered prayers, trusting God. We share the prayers that were not answered how we expected or hoped, acknowledging His ways being better than our own.
Finally, it is important to create an environment of trust and authenticity among the women. As we share our prayer requests, they begin to see that we as leaders have struggles to. We have unanswered prayers, we seek His will and favor, we pray without ceasing for our prodigals to return… our husbands to find Jesus… our addictions to be healed… and our good news too! In our vulnerability, they will find authenticity… and then our anonymous prayer requests will begin to disappear and a community of sisters walking in faith, praying for one another will begin to form.
This summer, at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, I happened to come across a great ministry in the Exhibition Hall. After spending quite a few minutes talking ministry with their representative Curtis Wilson, I fell head over for the work that One Child Matters is doing for children all over the world & the impact that they are having on communities. What is beautiful about partnering up with a ministry like One Child Matters, is that there is a impact not only abroad but in our churches, communities, and in ourselves.
The very first time my family ever sponsored a child from another country, we specifically chose a child who was similar to age as our children. It’s been beautiful to watch her grow up and turn into a young woman who is not only growing in her faith but dedicated to being a positive influence on her own community. One of my most treasured possessions is a letter she wrote to us where she shared how she prays for us. When I think of the difference in our lives and opportunities, to know that she is praying for us is a humbling reminder that we are all in this life together. We are all family, brothers and sisters… sons and daughters… of the King. Family cares for and prays for each other, regardless of the number of miles between us.
If your church or Women’s Ministry is looking for an organization to partner with… I am thrilled to recommend One Child Matters as a suggestion. There are children available for sponsorship, as well as missions trip opportunities, and you can request a speaker from One Child Matters to speak at your church or next Women’s Ministry event.
For more information, please visit their website! Or, you can contact Curtis Wilson directly at 614.560.5742 and on Twitter @CurtisDWilson
If you are a local Women’s Ministry Leader or Pastor’s wife, in the Treasure Coast or South Florida, visit our facebook page. Curtis Wilson will be traveling to our area to share One Child Matters with local churches, and there will be a special dinner event for Women’s Ministry Leaders/Pastor’s Wives. You can add your name & church name to our list & we will make sure you receive an invitation to the event.
A standard protocol for any ministry is to pray for God’s protection and favor over their work. At a Women’s Ministry team meeting, we may pray for each others’ personal requests, for the event we are planning, and the women in the church. How often do you make sure to include praying for your Pastor, Staff, Church, and the Community it is serving?
So often we are focused on our own ministry needs that we forget that we are part of a bigger ministry in our community. We are focused on our own ministry, and our own church… and we may forget about the other ministries and churches that are serving in our areas as well. We also may be so focused on our role in serving in our ministry area that we forget that we are part of a body larger that we serve as well.
As we delve into the topic of Prayer & Worship in your Women’s Ministry at this weekends training event, we want to make sure that we don’t neglect to remind our leaders the importance of praying beyond your ministry. We are grateful for The Good Book Company’s book “5 Things to Pray for Your Church”, which walks you through the ways you can be praying for your church, your role within it, and beyond your church walls. The women attending our training event will be receiving a copy of this book courtesy of The Good Book Company.
A posture of prayer needs to start from the top down. As ministry workers who are part of a larger church body, before we begin praying for our own ministry needs and direction, we must begin with the church from the top down. We pray for protection over the building, and we pray that our Pastors will be protected & have wisdom in shepherding the flock. We can even go a step further up, as we pray for our country and elected officials and how they will respond, represent, and protect the rights of the church.
As we lead the women in our church to a posture of prayer, and model the behavior and practice before them, we can also help them to foster a position of prayer over the church they call home.