How Do you Thank Your Team?

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I am always thankful for those who serve alongside me.  When they accomplish a task or pitch in when the going gets tough, I’m always certain to say thank you at the moment.  But, I think it is also important to recognize these women in a more tangible way.

Thanksgiving is coming up and then we will be in the full swing of Christmas.  Chances are you are having some sort of women’s event with either a Thanksgiving or Christmas theme, what a perfect time to publically recognize the women who have spent the year working hard to serve the women of the church.   A small trinket, devotion book, or even a small denomination gift cards is always appreciated.

There are other ways you can show the women you serve with that you appreciate them and recognize their efforts.  You may not even realize how much it means to them to receive some of these ideas.  Prayerfully consider how you can make a point to show appreciation all year long.

  • Order your team members official name tags w/ their position (if applicable) to wear at events.
  • If ministry budget allots, pay for your team members rooms or registrations for women’s conferences.  If funds are limited, see if you can pay for a room upgrade or a special gift basket to be left in their room upon arrival.
  • Take the women out to a special brunch for fellowship and bonding, no business!  You can do this all at one time with the entire team, or one woman at a time to get to know her better.
  • Give small gifts that are personalized to each woman’s personality/gifts letting her know that you see who she is versus getting every one on the team duplicate gifts.
  • Register the team for a special leadership conference, or even hire a speaker to come in and invest in their leadership skills.  Or, plan your own leadership retreat.
  • Plan a spa retreat day, mani pedi day, or craft day for the team.
  • Write a letter to each team member sharing how much she means to you and has blessed the team with her gifts.
  • Remember her birthday or the anniversary of her serving on the team, and celebrate it with a card or flowers.
  • If you have an area where you display Women’s Ministry event information, make sure to include a list of who the team members are.
  • Pray for the women specifically, and let them know you have prayed for them by dropping a card in the mail.
  • Make sure to schedule periods of rest for the team, especially have taxing events.  Giving the gift of rest recognizes how hard they worked, as well as your appreciation for a job well done.

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.

I… We… They – Women’s Ministry Event Attendance

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Perhaps you have noticed that the women who attend your ministry events are the exact same women, consistently.  New fresh faces are few and far between, the same familiar women show up to be served.

When it comes to Women’s Ministry events I have always believed that God brings who He knows should be there.  An event is a success if there are two or two hundred women in attendance.  However, sometimes there is a reason other women are not attending.  It is a lesson we can learn from the church as well.

I believe that there are women who simply do not want to just attend a Women’s Ministry event, they want to be a part of it.  Perhaps there hasn’t been an opening on your Women’s Ministry Team, or they may not be able to commit long term to the team but can commit from event to event.  As Women’s Ministry leaders we can get caught up in SERVING our women that we forget about the women who are also called to serve.  I believe for each woman of God, we are called to seasons of serving and seasons of being served.

When the Church staff realize they want people to be more connected to the Church, one of the most effective ways to make this happen is through providing multiple avenues where they can get involved.  When we are involved in our Church, we become invested in our Church.  When we are invested in our Church, we have ownership… and with ownership comes commitment.

There are women in your church right now that are just waiting for someone to ask for their help or expertise. 

  • The women who can sing or play an instrument, but can’t commit to the Worship Team.
  • The women who love photography, and would find great pleasure in taking pictures at the WM events.
  • The women who have a testimony to share, experience in a particular area they can teach others about.
  • The women who have a heart for hospitality and would happily come in and help decorate, make centerpieces, or come up with cute favors.
  • The women who are organized, gifted administrators, who would love to help you find a way to coordinate sign up sheets, manage ministry business.
  • The women who love to write who would be thrilled to tackle writing devotions on the WM facebook page, or communicating information to the women in the church for you.

These are just a few examples of women who may be in your church.  What I have learned is that when you can give women something to be responsible for, their attendance doesn’t just change for that particular event.  Over time they become increasingly more involved, and it may lead to eventual leadership positions.

If a woman from your church approaches you with a specific idea, and it fits into the vision of the church, why not allow her to run with it?  If she has a gift or talent, see if there is a way she can use it in the ministry.  The more connected she is to the ministry, she is also more apt to invite her friends.

Planning a Retreat Budget

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It is a brand new year, and for many of us that means that we are in the midst of planning a retreat for the women in the church.  Quite often a retreat may be an alternative word for any sort of women’s getaway, including going to a conference.  As we begin the planning process for this retreat, one of the most important factors we need to consider is the budget.

There are two types of retreats/getaways that we can consider in our planning:

  1.  Joining a Women’s Retreat
  2. Planning a Women’s Retreat

When we join a women’s retreat, that means we are looking for an existing event that we can simply take part in.  It could be a national conference, a regional women’s ministry retreat, or partnering up with a larger church in our area.  The benefit to this event is that you don’t have to do anything other than promote it, collect the money (if there is not a website to register), and make travel arrangements.  All of the planning and work has been executed by the hosting ministry.  Whew.

However, there are times when we really want to do something more personal for the women in our church. Perhaps this is an opportunity to create tighter bonds among the women in the church, or maybe the Lord has laid on your heart a very specific theme/message to present.  When we plan a retreat on our own, there is a LOT more work involved.  To be honest, they are usually NOT less expensive either.  If you are attempting to plan your own retreat to save money, consider yourself forewarned. 

Generally speaking, from a business perspective, the MORE people who attend an event the LOWER the per person cost becomes.  The expenses for print materials, for example, will reduce in price per person because it is fiscally more advantageous to print a larger run than a smaller limited run. A speaker may have a flat fee that is not affected by the number of attendees to the conference.  The fewer people you have means that your expenses are divided up among a small resource pool.   For a retreat that I planned a few years ago, it would have cost me exactly the same if I had 50 women in attendance, or 100. 

Another point to consider is where the money for your retreat is coming from.  There are women’s ministries that have a budget from the church, or at least have an account where they have raised funds to pull from.  Yet, the reality for many women’s ministries is that they have little to zero budget.  When planning your own retreat, if you are going to be holding it off the church grounds, you need to anticipate having to make a deposit to reserve your date.  Will this money come from the Women’s Ministry account?  Will you need to get a “loan” from the church fund until the payment for the retreat are received, at which time the church is given back that advancement?  Or, are you going to hope for the best & begin accepting your payments… hoping that the space will still be available when you have enough to put in the deposit?  It’s a risky move, but I have known women’s ministries that have had no other choice.

I believe these considerations are why most women’s ministries will join in a retreat elsewhere, frankly it is easier.  Plus the cost you are given, is the cost.  There are no surprises.  If you are given a ticket price for a conference, we generally know that it doesn’t include our meals and hotel room.  We have options to stay in the hotel hosting the conference, or at a nearby less expensive location.  If we are aware that our food is not included, we can do research ahead of time to find out what the local restaurant choices are & their menu pricing.  If we decide to take our women to a retreat location, in most cases the cost includes your lodging, food and materials.  Then the women’s ministry need only decide if they are going to carpool or rent a bus. 

Planning a women’s retreat ourselves is entirely different, and we need to expect the unexpected.  Our ticket costs are dependent on the number of people in attendance, if we don’t get enough people the ministry pays the difference.  So, keeping all this in mind, we can begin to explore how to budget for planning a  women’s retreat.  Typically the expenses for planning your own retreat will include lodging, food, materials, speakers, and sometimes transportation.  There are ways to cut expenses, such as pulling your speakers from within the church versus hiring a professional speaker. 

In my years of serving on and leading ministry teams, I’ve seen several different budget styles.

  1.  The team plans the event as they want it, determines the number of people they want to attend the event, divides the cost up by that estimated attendance, and then you have your ticket cost.
  2.  The team sets a per person ticket cap, trying to get everything they want in within that budget.  They prioritize their wants for the event, until they run out of room in the budget cap.
  3. The team sets a per person ticket cap, does everything they want for the event, and the ministry makes up any difference between the final expense and the collected funds from the attendees.

The first option is risky, because you could create an event that is just too expensive.  The higher the price the event, the less people who will be able to afford to attend.  This means you will have a harder time getting the minimum number of attendees in order to make the event break even. 

The second option has less risk, however it does mean that you are going to have to let go of some really good ideas.  Or, you are going to have to get really creative (which also means you will be doubling your work load trying to acquire your event components for less money). 

The third option is beautiful option, but only feasible if you are leading a women’s ministry that has the funds to pull it off.  The majority of women’s ministries do not have excess funds that they can put into a retreat.

My preferred option is the second, it is a conservative budget that you can control.  The first and third options leave too much room for your budget to get away from you. 

Where the Money Goes:

One of the most shocking things I learned in retreat planning, is that PER PERSON… you greatest expense is FOOD.  Unless you are blessed with a team of ladies who loves to cook, and a location where you can prepare your own food, estimate 50% of your cost going to food for the weekend. 

The next most expensive item is going to be the lodging.  Campgrounds will always be less, since you are typically sleeping in a dormitory style space.  Hotels will always be the most, because it includes all of the extra amenities.  Additionally, I found that staying TWO nights almost always costs as much a ONE night in a hotel.  You also will need to consider how many people are sleeping a room, I found less and less women are interested in shacking up four to a room to save money.  They want their own bed, they want the space less crowded, and some hotels are no longer allowing this as an option.

It seems to me, no matter how you shake it, up to 75% of your money is going to food and lodging.  This is why more women’s ministries have opted for single day retreats.  It removes the lodging costs entirely, reduces the food cost drastically, and since they are usually local there is really no transportation cost either.

For small women’s ministries, you may actually find that is CHEAPER to rent a mansion on the water, preparing your own foods for the weekend than to go to a hotel.  And, something to consider, you almost always pay for the week.  The WM team could head up early and spend time preparing the space, bonding, even planning the year before the rest of the women arrive. 

Once you have secured the location and arranged your meal plans, then you can begin to look at speakers (if you are going to pay them), and finally move on to materials.

By choosing women from the church to speak, you can save money on speaker fees that can range from $50-$100 per session (not including their lodging, meal, transportation).  In our church, when we use a woman form within the church as a speaker we give her a discount on her event registration & usually get her a small gift.  If you have women who are comfortable speaking, but not necessarily preparing the materials, there are kits from companies like Group Publishing that provide all the content.  All you have to do is find a few women to present it, it’s a lot less pressure on the women overall.

Now that you’ve gotten the big three components out of the way, you can subtract those expenses from your budget.  At this point it will be very clear if you are working from a budget with a large margin that will accommodate renting a charter bus, or if transportation to the event will be left up to the attendees.  Coordinating carpools can be a helpful way to “provide” transportation options without incurring the expenses of a charter bus.  In the past, when coordinating carpools, we have made sure to provide the drivers with any road tolls and gas money as a token of appreciation for their willingness to drive.

Once you have addressed any transportation costs, the remaining available funds are what you will have left for all the other materials for the retreat.  These materials can include notebooks, pens, take home favors, or supplies they will need for the event.

If you are planning on doing a craft:  Try to build your craft off of items that are in the clearance section, ask for donations from local craft stores, or contact the manufacturer to see if you can get a bulk order discount for your supplies. 

If you are planning on a tote bag of gifts:  Ask local businesses if they are interested in sponsoring the items.  At a past retreat we had a local business woman who donated 50 water bottles, with her business card dropped inside. 

If you need supplies for activities:  Ask around the church, you never know what people have lying around.  A few years ago, we need 100 golf balls for a special activity at one of our retreats.  A woman happened to have a bucket of golf balls from her husband (who couldn’t play anymore) and they donated them to our event.  That saved us a lot of money.

Also consider that some local businesses will give non-profit groups a percentage off their purchases, like Hobby Lobby.   Others will give a gift card to their store that you can use for whatever you like, we got a $50 gift card to Target to use on our craft project because the end product was going to a local children’s home.

Getting creative can help you dwindle down your expenses and make that last big of available budget stretch further.

My final piece of advice is to budget conservatively, if you want a 100 women to come… but all of your pricing is based at 51 women minimum,  plan for 51.  You can hope for 100, you can pray for 100, you can even expect God to deliver 100.  However, base your budget at that minimum number.  This way anyone who comes to the event after that 51st woman is now putting you in the place to ADD to your budget. 

Adding to your budget will allow you to:

  • Offer scholarships for women who can’t afford the retreat.
  • Allow you to move things back into the Retreat Plan that you may have had to remove.
  • Provides a small budget that you can purchase thank you gifts for all of your volunteers, or even get a special gift for each woman in attendance.
  • It also allows you to have funds that you can roll over to future women’s ministry events.
  • You could opt to cover the registration for the retreat for the Pastor’s wives, as a gesture of appreciation.
  • Upgrade the food menu, add in access to an amenity on the location that was not included.