The Women We Serve

The WomenWeServe

When speaking with Women’s Ministry Leaders, a very common concern is reaching a particular demographic of women.  In a church that has predominantly older women, they will desire to reach young mothers.  In a church that has a larger number of younger women (married, unmarried, kids, no kids), there is a desire to reach the older women.  More stay at home moms?  They are trying to reach the working moms.  There is a desire to be inclusive of all the women in the church, but not always the knowledge on how to do so.

The first practical change you can make begins by really knowing WHO are the women in your church, community.  Using a service like Survey Monkey or Facebook Polls in your Women’s Ministry Facebook Group (or the church page), you can put together a simple survey of less than 10 questions.  At this point it is about getting an overall picture, versus knowing each woman’s life details.   

You may want to include basic questions, such as:

  • Marriage Status:  single, married, divorced, widowed
  • Parenting Status:  single parent, co-parenting, married with kids, grandparents raising their grandchildren, foster parents, adoptive parents, step parent or blended family, military family, etc.
  • Employment Status:  full time, part time, work at home, unemployed
  • Age, either specific answer or within a range 18-29, 30-39, etc.

If you are a large church, where certain statistics are not as obvious, you may want to dig deeper.

  • Ethnicities represented in the church.
  • Education level, may be a good time to ask about formal biblical education.
  • Of the parents, how many use public school, private school, or homeschool.

In addition to this information there may be other specific questions you want to ask.  If you are a non-denominational church… you may be interested in knowing the denominational backgrounds of your women.  You may wish to know how many years they have been a Christian.  All of these questions give you a very broad overview of who you are serving, so that you can serve them better.

The second practical thing you can do, as a ministry leader, is to build a team that reflects the finding of your survey.   If you have a mixture of older and younger women in your church, so should your team.  If you have a mixture of ethnicities in your church, the ministry team should reflect that mixture.  Once you have added these women to your team you will benefit by:

  1.  Their perspective.  While certainly one woman can not speak for that entire demographic, having at least one person from that group helps key us in when planning on how our ideas impact each of the groups we serve.
  2. Their presence.  Not only does it send a message to the entire body that the ministry is inclusive, the presence of these differing women will help your leadership team broaden their own personal circles.
  3. Their influence.  When these differing women become a part of the planning process, they take ownership in the events.  Because of that ownership, especially if the event was their suggestion, they will want to ensure the success of the event.  This means the women are going to make sure to invite, and encourage to attend, the women in their circle of influence.

You cannot please all of the people, all of the time.  A healthy women’s ministry CAN please some of the people, some of the time.  A diverse ministry team, creates a diverse ministry calendar, that reaches the diverse group of women we serve in the church and the community.

Eat, Drink, and Remember.

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Women are inherently emotional creation, emotional in how we connect with others and respond to the situations we are in.  Men work on a different level, entirely.  It’s why you can meet for your women’s study group every week and wish you could meet more often; yet your husband might be content with meeting once a month to check in with the guys.  It is for this reason, emotional connection, the Women’s Ministry Council has a heart for building up a broad view of Women’s Ministry.

Brunches are great, as they fulfil our need to connect personally with others.  Yet, they often lack deep instruction.  Bible Studies are a great way to find instruction and wisdom.  Yet, they often have a changing of attendees that prevents real relationships from forming.  Small Groups, of set members who change study materials, may create a community;  but too often those community groups can close out new people who bring their own wisdom and value.

A Women’s Ministry that solely relies on monthly brunches is not going to a have a long term deep impact on the spiritual growth of women in their church.

A Women’s Ministry that solely relies on Bible Studies and Small Groups is not going to connect the women in corporate worship and instruction.

We must strike balance.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

~ Hebrews 10:23-25

The same can be said about how diverse our ministries are.  A Women’s Ministry that sits in the safety of the programs and offerings it has always provided is going to continue bringing like minded women.  However, it will be a near impossibility to diversify that ministry program to include a broader representation of your church or community.

During the last WMC meeting, one point that both Aimee Nelson and Jenny Andrews was made is our common identity.  Before all things we are Christian women, daughters of the King.  This is our common unity.

I can eat, drink, and remember how Christ changed my life… regardless of what food is on my plate or drink fills my cup.  I can do this at a table in a local café, or the home of a new friend.  To sit and break bread with a fellow believer sharing our testimonies with one another is a blessing beyond measure.  Regardless of our skin color or backgrounds, we love the same God.

It can be difficult to facilitate change in a ministry where many area already accustomed to certain events. We cannot facilitate change if we do things the same way we have always done.  Yet, if you change everything you may bring in new faces and your women already invested may leave, which doesn’t help bring people together either.  Change is hard.   However we can begin to implement change in smaller measures.

What if…

What if I invited a worship singer from a local African American church to sing for the worship portion of our brunch?

What if I went to a local, family owned, ethnic restaurant and catered in dinner for our next guest speaker?

What if our next speaker was born in another country?

What if our next keynote speaker at our retreat was a woman rescued from sex trafficking?

What if our next Bible Study was written by an African American author or a woman from another country?

What if we began a series of events where we brought in women from various ethnic churches in our community to learn more about who they are, what their ministry goals are, and how we can help?

You don’t have to dismantle and rebuild a ministry to bring change via a total overhaul.  You can begin to take small steps, over time.

Eat, drink, and remember…

we are all precious in His sight.

The Panel Recording

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Panel Moderator:  Gena McCown      Panel Contributors:  Jenny Andrews, Aimee Nelson

Click Here To Listen to the Audio Recording of the Panel Session

PLEASE NOTE:  We allowed questions to be submitted anonymously.  We made the decision to read the question as it was written, we were not going to adjust the questions at all.  This kept our session authentic.  We all agreed to receive the questions with grace, and good intentions.  However, the answers may have been adjusted as this is a learning opportunity.

The first question was missed, which was what is the correct terms to refer to people of other races/ethnicities.  The answer begins with the uniqueness we have in S. FL as we are an entry point and home to many first generation immigrants.  In S. FL.  African American does not apply to everyone who has dark skin.  The audio carries on the answer defining the various ethnicities we encounter in S. FL and the rest of the questions.

Unfortunately we were moved outside for the meeting, which inhibited our ability to video the panel, and hit the audio with some unexpected noises.  Praise God we have this to share with those who couldn’t attend.

We have decided that this subject is going to be continued in future discussions.

The Starting Point

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It can be hard to come to terms with a subject that is just completely outside of your scope of understanding.  To have someone think less of you for nothing more than the color of your skin, or your country of origin.  To be treated as less than, to have lower expectations on your ability, or marginalized by how you look before someone even takes the time to get to know you.

Something else that is also hard is a willingness to call out sin for what it is, especially when it a sin you don’t want to admit is still present.  Even more so when that sin is being committed by yourself or others you know, particularly when you know that they are a good person.  From tasteless jokes to out right discrimination, we must come to terms with the fact that racism still exists in our country.  Yes, there are areas in the country that are more progressive than others.  There are people who have fought for civil rights in the past, and those who are still doing so today, because they believe in equality for all people.

Yet, there are still places where racism exists in very blatant ways.  Many more where racism is far more subtle.  If we call racism what it is, SIN… then we know exactly what we are supposed to do with that sin.  Which is tackle it head on.  It can be far easier to justify someone’s sin, by pointing out a persons checkered past or giving a good person a pass for an inappropriate joke.  Jesus never gave sin a pass.  Nor should we.

As our eyes become more open to the wounds that have not healed, we feel conviction over our thoughts and words.  We make the effort to change ourselves, to influence those around us.  For others, and for any number of reasons, their eyes are still covered by scales.  They can not see the sin, and as leaders we have a responsibility to not allow sin to go unchecked.

What are some practical ways you can be apart of change in your life, Women’s Ministry, Church, and community?  To confront sin, we must identify it and then actively work against it.

  1.  Take the time to understand the feelings of others by choosing to be quiet and listen.  Ask people who come from other cultures and ethnicities to share their experiences with you, and do not interject your opinions.  Allow them to speak, listen to what is being said, and take time to reflect on that conversation before you respond with more questions.
  2. Read.  There are plenty of books on the subject of racism and also on racial reconciliation.  You can watch interviews online, panel discussions, and more.  Google “Race and the Church” or “Racial Reconciliation and the Church” and you’ll find a trove of useful information.  I recommend “UNITED” by Trillia Newbell.
  3. Challenge your Women’s Ministry team (or church leaders) to go through “The Bridge to Racial Unity” Bible Study as a team.   You can access this through the ministry Be The BridgeEnter this study with humbleness, willingness to listen, and as the leader of the ministry set the tone of respect.  If you do not have any women of color serving on your ministry team, considering inviting a few willing women to go through this study with your team.  Women who are willing to field your questions with grace and mercy.
  4. PRAY for your own life to become open to diversity, that the Lord will bring the women to add to your Women’s Ministry team, and convict the heart of your church leaders to create a space that is welcoming to all of God’s people (even when it means getting out of our comfort zones in how we worship) including bringing people of color onto staff positions.

Before the Conversation

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In the past, the Monday after our Women’s Ministry Council meeting, we will usually publish to the site a recap of the events.  This particular meeting was probably one of our hardest subjects to date, and a conversation we know that we are not done with.  Before we even attempt to put into words what happened at our Diversity and Unification meeting, I would like to thank those who contributed to the success of equipping women leaders on an important subject.

Thank you to Moody Publishers, who donated a copy of Trillia Newbell’s book UNITED:  Captured By God’s Vision for Diversity for each of the women in attendance.    We pray that each leader is able to use this resource not only for her own benefit but also to share with her team and church.

Thank you to International Missions Board, who donated their Limitless material and the Gospel in Henna Tattoo and Explanation Card sets.  To be diversified in the church requires a diversity in how we reach out to other cultures.

Thank you to MOPS International for the donation of these awesome tote bags, MOPS groups are a great way to open our church doors to the community at large and bring many different people to the table.

Thank you to Be the Bridge, who created the Bridge to Racial Unity Bible Study materials.  Also thank you to the donors from the community who provided the funds to print the study, allowing each woman to take home a physical copy.

Please pray with us that all of these materials will be a blessing to the churches in which they make their way back to.

Additionally we announced a few exciting pieces of news:

  • 2018 We will begin to roll out WMC groups in other cities!
  • 2018 the WMC will offer our first full day event for women leading in the church, LeadHer Conference.  The 2018 theme is: LeadHer with Wisdom

Please pray along with us over these next steps, as we remain faithful and obedient to do as God asks us in HIS timing not our own.

Over the next several articles, we will begin to break down the content from the training, point our readers to resources, and share the ways we are going to keep this conversation going.

Diversity and Unification

unitedIn April, our local Women’s Ministry Councils will begin the start of what we hope is an ongoing conversation toward understanding the value of diversity in our lives and our ministries; as well as the role the Church should play in unification among God’s people.

We recognize that not all of our readers and Facebook friends are local, but that doesn’t mean that we do not want you involved in this conversation.  In fact, we’d love to see these conversations starting in your ministries too.

As we prepare for this important conversation, over the next several weeks WMC is going to share resources with our Women’s Ministry Leaders and teams.  These resources are ones that we are using for research and preparation, recommended reading, and tools that you can use not only for your own growth but for facilitating change in your church.

All of our churches in attendance at our April meeting will receive a copy of Trillia  J. Newbell’s book UNITED from Moody Publishers.  If you are not local or will not be attending that meeting, this is a great book to start with.

http://www.trillianewbell.com/books/united-captured-gods-vision-diversity/

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.

 

 

A Heart of Worship

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We are excited this weekend to have a new speaker at one of events.  Sheila Thomas is going to be sharing with our local leaders about the importance of having worship as part of our Women’s Ministry events.

Do you put much thought, as a Women’s Ministry Leader about incorporating worship into your events?  Whether you are choosing a formal worship event, that is all about singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, or having a few minutes dedicated to opening an event in worship… here are a few quick thoughts to consider.

Events tend to be a place where we feel very comfortable inviting guests.  These guests may not be familiar with old hymnals, your church’s go-to song list, or even what is being played on local Christian stations.  Therefore:

  • Look for songs that are easy and do not have complex melodies that are hard to follow.
  • Select songs that use more common vocab words vs. “Christianese”, so that our guests understand what it is they are singing.
  • Print out the lyrics or have the lyrics displayed on a projection screen for those who are unfamiliar, never assume people have memorized the lyrics to a common song or can follow along.
  • Even though women do tend to naturally sing at a higher octave than men, consider the untrained voice may have difficulty with high notes and use them sparingly.
  • Consider the theme of your event, the emotion you want to evoke from the women, and select songs that fit the theme or desired response well.
  • Don’t be afraid to bring in a male worship leader for a women’s event.
  • If your church worship team is taxed for time already, consider using someone from the body who has this gift but can’t commit to the regular schedule of the worship team.  There may also be someone from your youth group that could lead worship.
  • Contact local Christian Colleges with music programs for potential worship leaders.   Many of these colleges require volunteer hours of their students, and leading worship may count.  This is a win for the student, to gain more hours.  It’s a win for the ministry too, as it helps offset budget concerns.  Make sure to ask the college if you are allowed to compensate the student for travel time/expenses or give a monetary thank you gift even though they are volunteering.
  • Consider balance in the planning stages regarding how much time you want to allot for worship songs, where in the course of the program do you want to utilize them (beginning, throughout, ending).

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Many thanks to Ligonier Ministries and their magazine “Table Talk“, for gifting the women in attendance this weekend a copy of their back issue Worship Matters“.  It is a great addition to our speakers thoughts on why we need to incorporate worship in to our programs.  It’s a valuable resource on a beautiful topic.

The Small Group Series #2 – Obstacles

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Written By:  Gena McCown, Women’s Ministry Council Co-Founder

Small Groups are a beautiful part of a successful Women’s Ministry program, however it can take some effort to get a program rolling.   This week, we are going to look through some of the obstacles we face in trying to get small groups started, maintain them throughout the year, and encourage growth toward the future.

To start with, we need to establish clear goals for our small group.

  1. The purpose of the small group is to help women in our church and community deepen their knowledge of the Word, through group study and individual study time.
  2. As the women deepen their knowledge of the Word, we help demonstrate how to apply Biblical principals to our every day lives.
  3. Additionally, the small group should foster a sense of community and fellowship that leads us into a relationship of vulnerability, trust, and accountability.

We also need to establish boundaries for our small group.

  1. Small group is a place to share our vulnerable selves, not to spread gossip about others not in the group under the guise of prayer requests.
  2. Small group is a sacred space of communion and we agree to keep our small group conversations within the confines of the small group.
  3. Small group is exactly that, a small group.  50 women are not in a “small group”, that is a bible study or fellowship ministry.  We need to have an expectation that growth will result in the formation of a new small group, splitting the members among them.

Once we have these basic parameters in place, we can then begin to look at what obstacles may come our way and how to address them as they arise.  There are a few things I have noticed over the years that are pretty consistent obstacles that show up in the small groups.  These obstacles show up from the preparation stages through the last day of your study, and I’m going to address them in that order.

We Lack Small Group Leaders

A huge struggle for many Women’s Ministry Leaders is getting enough women to lead small groups.  I’d like to first address the first half of this obstacles which is defining what you are looking for in your small group leaders.  Are you looking for a facilitator, which is a woman who is happy to host the study in her home or willing to use prewritten curriculum that requires no actual teaching or preparation on her part.  Or, are you looking for a small group teacher, which is a woman who is a seasoned believer who is willing to dig deeper into the scriptures and serve as a discipler.

Once you know what type of leaders you are looking for, it becomes easier to find them.  Why?  Because, now when you start asking women in your church you have a clear expectation of what you want from small group leaders.  I would suggest that both facilitators and teachers have their place in small groups.  Facilitators will generally guide the group through written curriculum, and are learning alongside those in their group.  There are less expectations on them to “have all the answers” and it is a great group for new believers.  Teacher led small groups are perfect for the women in your church that are looking to challenge themselves by digging through the scriptures in an expository style or even seeking the wisdom of seasoned believers on tough topics from the scriptures.

Additionally, if you are developing small group leaders… facilitating is a GREAT first step.  It allows the leader to familiarize herself with the general format of how a small group runs before putting her in charge of developing her own materials.  Which leads me to the next obstacle for small groups, leadership development and support.

We Lack Small Group Support

It is really easy to find a small group leader if you tell her that her only responsibility is to hit the play button on the VCR.  It is also much easier to tackle tough subjects that no one wants to teach if they know they don’t have to come up with their material on their own.  I’m doing this now myself, leading a study as a facilitator because I know this is an area that I too need help in.   It is harder to find leaders who are ready to teach a group, where the bulk of the preparation lies on their shoulders.  I do not believe this is because God doesn’t have the women in the church already… I believe it is because they lack the confidence to do it.

How often have you approached a women in your church to teach a small group and she replies that she doesn’t know enough about the Bible to lead a group.  How do you respond to it?  If you are like most leaders, you will ask for her to pray about it or give her the option of letting you know should she change her mind.  How many times have you followed her objection with the question:

Would you be interested in being trained to lead a small group?

If we never challenge our women to rise to the occasion, they may never do so.  If we have a plan in place to help them learn how to facilitate a small group, and then eventually teach a small group… we have opened up the potential of endless teachers.  Ask questions about why they don’t think they can lead.  You may find they feel Biblically illiterate, not certain how a meeting runs, concerned they can’t command the attention of the group, or they may think there are costs associated with the role which are not in their means. 

Solutions for this obstacle will begin with simply answering those objections.  Biblically illiterate, would they be willing to meet with you for 1:1 discipling?  Concerned about how to run a meeting or command attention, consider setting them up as a co-leader to an established leader you respect.   Concerned about material costs, then explain to them who is responsible for paying for the materials (the church, split among the participants evenly, everyone buys their own, or using materials the church already has in stock).

Support doesn’t stop after we have trained small group leaders, we need to continually develop them and encourage those leaders to also find and develop leaders in their group.  If you small groups take a break over the summer, use this time to put together a brief training for your leaders.  Find a book or develop your own material, if need be.  Check in with your leaders throughout the year to see if they are having any issues in their groups.  Consider having one of your Women’s Ministry Leader team dedicated to overseeing the small groups.

We Lack Interest in our Small Groups

It’s the week of small group sign ups and your group is filling up nicely.  Your first meeting goes off without a hitch, however by mid-study the number of women attending as decreased.  By the end of the study you are down to a few dedicated women.  Or, perhaps this scenario sounds more like your experience:  After weeks of promoting small groups, only a small percentage of the women in your church have signed up.  How can you have small groups if there are no women signing up?  Why continue them if the women are not committing to see it through until the end?

The first question we need to ask ourselves is a tough one, which is are the small groups important in this church at all?  I’ve noticed that there is a certain culture to churches where small groups are really successful.  The church is made up primarily of people who grew up in church and know how to “do church” without prompting.  The church is made up primarily of people who have a strong sense of community, and their church family is their biggest area of community.  In churches where I see small groups struggling, I notice these are churches with a larger percentage (not necessarily majority) of new believers.  I’ve also noticed that members of these churches are having their community needs met outside of the church.  They are involved in outside organizations, live in areas that are extremely busy offering a lot of options for socializing and fellowshipping, and may have a community of friends who either do not go to church at all -0r at least not all go to the same church. 

Another aspect affecting small groups, that I have begun to notice, is the attempt at churches to utilize technology to streamline sign ups.  I’ve had far more success getting women to sign up for ANYTHING when they can do it on the spot vs. online at home.  For no other reason than they forget, out of sight… out of mind.  Certain areas of the country are also populated with either older generations who are not computer savy or live in an area that is economically disadvantaged and those congregants lack access to computers to sign up digitally.  If you live in a major city, with lots of professionals and technology is common knowledge… online or app sign ups are perfect.  In other areas, if this is your goal, you are going to have to slowly transition to it.  Be sure to provide both options until you begin to see the change of habit.   This can including offering digital signs ups and old fashioned paper sign up forms.  Or, you can choose to set up some tablets in the church lobby for quick sign ups before they leave.  Have a volunteer there to help your older members with the process.

If you have made the sign up process simple, meaning everyone can see the details of the study (what it is about, when it meets, how much materials cost) and you have an easy way for them to sign up… and you still lack interest?  Then you may need to face the reality that Small Groups are simply not the method in which you are going to best disciple your women.  Perhaps they are more interested in workshops, retreats, conferences, and other events of this nature than long term group studies.  You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink. 

The second question you will need to ask, when you see declining numbers, is whether or not the materials you are providing are of interest to the women in the church.  A church that is made up of 80% young families will definitely have success offering Parenting and Marriage related topics in their small groups.  However if the majority of your studies are taught by your older women, on the topic of Empty Nesters… you just won’t see the numbers you want.  We must be intentional about how many, and what types of groups we are offering.   If every study you offer is a video series from a major publisher, and your numbers are in decline, perhaps it is time to add in some expository groups or topical groups.  If every study group is held on weekday mornings, you are neglecting your working women.  Variety and diversity in the topics & scheduling will help increase the number of women attending.

We Lack Returning Participants

If you have noticed that your small groups are a revolving door in regards to attendance there are few immediate considerations.  First, women may be looking for their right fit.  Don’t take it personally if they leave and join up another group.  Be glad they are still in a group, and praise God that He will be sending someone else to fill that spot.  Second, women in our current generations are busier than ever before.  Perhaps your group was the perfect fit in the fall, but their spring season runs on an entirely different schedule.  Another group may be more convenient for spring, and you may see the women return to their original groups the following fall.  Third, women may be hopping groups based on the topics.  If you jumped from a Galatians study to one on parenting, don’t be surprised if the single ladies without kids jump ship to another study.  To combat this include your group members in choosing the next subject/topic for the group instead of selecting material that you are interested in and hoping they are too.

Something else to consider is this… these women may be seeking.  They know that they want to dig deeper into the word, but they are not sure what or how.  They may not even be able to articulate that they are searching or even what they are searching for.  However this study is just not “doing it” for them, and they drop out mid way.  In some respects we do need to allow our women the freedom to keep seeking, however our leaders need some sort of consistency for their group (especially if people are sharing personal details).  It is perfectly acceptable to either have the small group leader inquire as to why a member left, or if you have a Women’s Ministry Team member who oversees small groups to check into it.  Do so without judgement, but with the hopes of helping to guide them into a group that might meet their needs better.  This also may be a perfect candidate for 1:1 mentoring vs. joining a small group.

Ultimately the greatest solution to our Small Group Obstacles is COMMUNICATION.

  • Ask why someone is not willing to lead, facilitate, or teach a small group.  Offer a solution, by having a training plan in place.
  • Ask why a group member has left, and offer guidance into finding a small group or mentor relationship that is a better fit.
  • Ask your small group members for suggestions on what they would like to study as a group.
  • Ask yourselves honestly if Small Groups are the right fit for the church you are serving, or develop a plan to cultivate Small Group culture over time.
  • Ask yourselves about the quality, variety, and diversity of the materials, groups, and availabilities you are offering.  Seek to create a menu of Small Groups that fit the climate of your church.

***** In our fourth installment, we will cover obstacles that occur IN or DURING the course of small groups that are more individually based. *****

Women’s Ministry – Diversity Starts with You

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I am a listener.  When others speak about the ministry experiences, I listen very intently.  I am looking for things to write about, great ideas, or common problems within in the ministry.  A problem that I hear repeatedly, with slight alterations, comes down to how to attract a particular group to the Women’s Ministry events.

“I don’t know why the older women in our church don’t come to our events.  How can we get them to engage and mentor with the younger women if they are fellowshipping together?”

“We invite the MOPS moms to the Women’s Ministry events, but for whatever reason they just are not interested in attending.”

“The younger women in the church never attend anything the Women’s Ministry holds.  How do we reach them?”

You can exchange the description of the type of woman depending on church, location, demographic, etc.  We want a diverse Women’s Ministry, but we are not sure how to meet all of the needs, of all of the people.

What we may realize in the end is that our Women’s Ministry events are comprised of the same people.  But why?

THIS IS YOUR WOMEN’S MINISTRY

One thing we must consider is the most simplistic answer, which is that these women are your Women’s Ministry.  In other words, not every woman is going to buy into Women’s Ministry.  Perhaps Women’s Ministry was not prominent in their community or church growing up, so they don’t see the need for it.  It is also a possibility that women coming into your church have a preconceived idea of what Women’s Ministry is, which doesn’t appeal to them.  Another factor lies in the fact that women are far busier today than they were historically.  Between balancing home, work, church, and kids activities… well, there may be little time for Women’s Ministry.

As a leader, we must be willing to accept this.  One thing that I have always believed when it comes to planning Women’s Ministry events is that the guest list is up to God. Whether God brings two people or two hundred, those are the people God is trying to reach through that event.  He may bring them to an event in order to hear His word, or to help them find fellowship among other believers. 

God will bring the women, for sure.   However that doesn’t mean that we sit back and do nothing either.  We are charged with creating an ministry that is inviting, welcoming, and inclusive of all women that walk through our church doors.

A DIVERSE MINISTRY BEGINS WITH YOUR TEAM

The second thing we need to consider, is whether or not we have been intentional in reaching these women.  Take a moment and look at your Women’s Ministry leader team.  Would you consider this group of women diverse?  Are you serving in a ministry along with your friends?  Is it a group of women who are the same age or in the same stage of life as you? 

When we build a Women’s Ministry team that is comprised of women who are just like us, we tend to plan events that appeal to our idea of fun, our needs, our concept of what ministry should look like.  If we want to reach our single moms, we need to have a single mom as part of our team.  If we want to reach the younger women in our church, she must be represented on the leadership team. 

Our Women’s Ministry team should be comprised of various women that represent the church, and the women we are trying to reach.  It should be an array of ages, life stages, and ethnicities.  I am not suggesting your hand your existing team pink slips at your next leader meeting, and rebuild your team from scratch.  What I am suggesting is that when an opening comes available on the team, or if you have room to add some women, be intentional about who you bring aboard the team.

Reach out to a prominent woman in the church that is part of that group you are attempting to reach.  As your Pastor’s wife for suggestions if you are not sure who the influential women are in that particular demographic in the church.