Team Series: Hospitality

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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:

  • Women of influence.  Typically if they go to an event, they bring and encourage others to come too.  My Pastor’s wife calls them “connectors”.
  • Genuinely are excited to see every woman who enters the room, and make it a point of meeting the new faces.
  • Generous with their homes and time.
  • Quick to organize meals for the sick, new moms, new families, etc.
  • Find joy in the details of their tasks.
  • Have vast amounts of knowledge when it comes to finding locations for events from luncheons to weekend long retreats.
  • Are usually effective event planners, or at least great on event teams.
  • They have an eye for femininity that pragmatic leaders tend to lack, but those attending our events will appreciate.

Their Role in Ministry:

  • Event Planning Leader/Team – brunches, luncheons, retreats, teas, etc.
  • Meals Ministry Leader/Team – sick, new mom, etc.
  • Welcoming Committee Leader/Team – how do we welcome new women to our church?
  • Hosting Team Meetings or planning meetings (even if they are on the team)

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: Taking the Lead

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Taking the Lead, By Gena McCown

I think many of us would love to be apart of a Women’s Ministry Team in which everyone works together as a team, pulling their own weight, making decisions cohesively, and leading in turn with one another as a group effort.  However, I find that as ideal as that may sound… it is very rarely practical.  There are two reasons that have brought me to this conclusion:

  1. Every group needs that one person who can make the hard, final decision.  This is the person who has the tie breaker vote.  The person who can make decisions on behalf of the group when there is not enough time meet and discuss.
  2. As the church and ministry grow, clear distinct roles help avoid chaos and a team of women who have no idea who is responsible for what.

The conclusions came not from reading books on Women’s Ministry, but from years of personal leadership experience.  I’ve been on the “group effort” teams and also on the “structured” teams, and I assure you the latter is the one that works the most effectively and into the long term.

Sometimes, a team may start off small and so the “group effort” style seams to work well.  However, as a ministry grows that becomes less effective and even worse hard to change.  Therefore, I have always recommended that any ministry start off with the future in mind when it comes to their structure.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a team of fifteen titled women when your small church has only 30 women in the whole congregation.  What it does mean is that from the very start everyone on the team understands that they have a specific roll to play that may become more defined and even divided as the ministry grows.

The first position we need to fill is that of the Leader, the head honcho, the decision maker, and the one whom all accountability for the ministry is going to fall upon.  This leader should have the following characteristics:

  • Genuine love and concern for the faith walk of the women in the church.
  • A heart for community outreach and service beyond the walls of the church.
  • Dedication to the church, personal study and prayer life.
  • Good standing with other church leaders.
  • Ability to balance her responsibilities (home, work, ministry).
  • Organized, punctual, detail oriented, able to delegate.
  • Eyes that see the big picture, a mind that dreams Kingdom sized dreams.

A leader stands in the gap between the Church Staff and the Women’s Ministry Team.  She should care about the Church’s vision, and be in communication with the Pastor or Elder that oversees the Women’s Ministry.  As the leader, she will need to understand when to put her own desires for the ministry aside when they do not align with the vision of the Church.   She needs to be able to encourage the team to do the same in a way that is positive and beneficial.

Depending on the size of your ministry, as a leader she may be very hands on.  This leader will be serving on committees and working along side the team in various ways.  She may pick up the slack when volunteers are lacking, or wrangle up more help when needed.  Or, she may be more of a coordinator who has delegated out duties to various team leaders. Her job is to manage those leaders for the end goal. 

The Women’s Ministry Leader should be seeking and developing new team members and even her own eventual replacement.  Her heart should be open to bringing in a diversity of women with varying gifts and experiences, not creating a team of women who are exactly like her.  Discernment will help her find the women, develop their skills, and when to begin giving them more responsibilities. 

Whether she is a volunteer or considered a member of the paid staff, she has the responsibilities of ensuring the ministry is a good steward of their budget.  She will research ministry trends, ideas, and resources to help the long term growth and development of the ministry.  And, she will recognize the responsibility she has taken on for the aiding in the spiritual development of the women in her charge.

As the leader, she should make an effort to get to know her team members more personally so that she can be on the look out for signs of ministry burn out, or when their gifts are not matched the tasks they have been assigned.  She should feel comfortable correcting women on her team, but engaged in equipping these women as leaders.  She sets the tone and the example the rest of the team will follow. 

Your Women’s Ministry Leader is the face of the ministry to the church, and she will be burned with their suggestions, criticisms, opinions, and requests.  Therefore it is imperative that the team members are praying for their leader’s heart and wellbeing. 

If your ministry currently doesn’t have an official leader, prayerfully consider making that decision.  You can do so as a group, taking nominations and letting everyone vote.  You could even ask for a volunteer.  However, I would suggest as a group to come to agreement with the need of a leader.  Writing down names of those who volunteer, and then handing that list to your overseeing Pastor/Elder to make the final decision.  This can eliminate hard feelings among the team members toward each other.

Women’s Ministry Leader, The First Tasks:

  • Talk with your Pastor about the vision for the church, and how the WM can support it.
  • Build your team by assessing spiritual gifts, allow the team input into the WM vision.
  • Finalize your WM Team vision, goals, and action steps to get there.
  • Start developing your future replacement, and encouraging your team members to do the same.

Women’s Ministry: The Childcare Conundrum

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Whether you have a formal program for mother’s like Mother’s of Preschoolers, a variety of Bible Study groups, or your Women’s Ministry likes to host brunches … inevitably childcare becomes an issue.

  • Not enough volunteers.
  • Not enough budget to pay childcare workers.
  • Background checks are expensive.
  • Limited space in Sunday School rooms.
  • To feed or not to feed the children.
I have yet to speak with a Women’s Ministry team where this hasn’t been an issue at some point, if not currently.  Growing churches will often outgrow their Sunday School rooms or nurseries if there is a surge in births.  The more kids you have, the more childcare workers you are going to need.  For the safety of the children and for the church, more and more churches are requiring background checks of anyone working with children over the age of 16 -18.  This is an expense that the ministry may not be able to afford.  Many women’s ministries will share stories of volunteers who don’t show up at the last minute, leaving members of the ministry team to miss the event in order to properly care for the children.  However, paying for childcare workers (especially on top of paying for background checks) might eat up the entire event budget.
What do you do?
There are many churches that have opted to NOT offer childcare because it causes so many issues, and would prefer to avoid the headache.  However, this will virtually eliminate any of the single moms or women who have husbands who work odd hours from attending your events.  Yet, these are quite often the women who need to be reached the most.  Fellowship events may be the only time they get to mingle with other women who are believers.
  • Paid childcare workers are more reliable than volunteers.  If paying a childcare worker isn’t in your budget, consider charging or taking donations for childcare services for women’s events.
  • Offer childcare only to those who are truly in need.  To do this you can opt to not include it in the event publicity, but direct those who may have childcare concerns to speak with a WM team member.
  • To offset costs of childcare workers’ background checks, pool with other ministries in the church or neighboring churches.  You can split the costs of the background checks and share the approved list of workers.
  • Cut childcare expenses in half by utilizing paid childcare workers and volunteers.  Many churches have teens who need volunteer service hours for high school graduation or college applications.  Or, you may have a group of teens who receive funds for youth trips in exchanging for volunteering at the church.
  • If you know some of the women attending have teens that can serve as childcare workers, or tweens you can help your workers, ask mom to bring them along.  I find directly asking mom is far more effective than going directly to the teen.    (Volunteer or Paid)
Some other suggestions:
Partner with another Women’s Ministry team that has a schedule similar to your ministry.  If you always have a brunch on the 1st Saturday, and they have theirs on the 2nd Saturday…. your team could provide childcare for their event, and they could provide childcare at your event.
There are many different online services for babysitters that include background checks for their sitters as part of their service.  Baby sitters will list their experience, availability, and their rate of pay under their profile.  This may be an option, if you are comfortable hiring childcare workers that are not from within the church or personally recommended.
Another facet of childcare that can prove to be difficult is estimating how many childcare workers you need.  Consider having your mothers pre-register their children, even if the childcare service is free.  Then you are only securing the amount of childcare workers you actually need, but do be prepared for the couple of moms who didn’t know or forgot to register.
If the brunch is a potluck, considering having a few of the women’s ministry team members prepare dishes for the children instead of the brunch/luncheon itself.  Be sure to skip things that are known allergens, or to ask moms when they pre-register.
A final thought, for women’s ministries who have chosen NOT to offer any childcare for their events.  There are times where it just isn’t feasible to have childcare available, or despite our best efforts we just can’t get the workers (such as during holiday seasons).  If you are not going to provide childcare:
  • Give plenty of notice about the event.  Even if all the details are not secure yet, a simple “Save the Date” is enough to allow moms to begin planning for childcare needs on their own.
  • Provide a list of known baby sitters, and suggest moms’ pool together and hire two sitters, for one house, and the group brings their kids to that home for the duration of the event.
  • Plan women’s events during the same time the kids events are happening at church.  If the kids are having an Awanas meeting, you could have a special event nearby.
  • Some nearby churches may sponsor “Mom’s Days Out” programs periodically.  You can schedule your activity during this time frame, and only suggest these locations to the single moms.