Special Ladies Night Event this weekend, for our S. FL Friends!
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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?
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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.
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.