By the Numbers

DoYouKNow

 

I have been involved in Women’s Ministry for over twenty years.  This last month I was challenged with a question that I could not answer.  The question:

What is the demographic of the women in your current church?

Truth be told, I’ve never known this answer about any ministry I have served.  Women’s Ministry.  MOPS.  Drama Ministry.  VBS.

I could answer questions like… average attendance at events.  Why?  Because, I planned those events.

Here are the things I didn’t know:

  • How many women (18+) attend your church?  (Or what percentage of the adult church is female?)
  • What is the percentage of… insert age, race, new vs. seasoned, etc.
  • What is the percentage of… working, stay at home, single, married, etc.
  • What is the percentage of… single mothers, empty nest mothers, widows, etc.
  • What are the economic percentages of the women in your church that you serve?

I also didn’t know these numbers related to the community we serve.

  • What is the percentages of single mothers, homeless women, unemployed women?
  • What is the percentage of homebound, nursing home residents, disabled women?
  • What are the biggest factors that our community faces? (Drugs, homelessness, gambling, unemployment, abuse, etc).

I really had no idea what the numbers and statistics for our area, for my church, were.

How can I serve a community that I don’t understand?  How can I serve a church full of women that I know little about their circumstances?  How can I build a Women’s Ministry program to address the needs of the women in our community… WHEN I DON’T KNOW WHAT THOSE NEEDS ARE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

The crazy part about this, from my perspective, is that everything I have ever been trained to do in the corporate sector focused on these demographics.  Knowing my client, knowing my area, interpreting that date into product acquisition and sales marketing plans, etc.  I KNOW THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION.

Yet, somehow, I had managed to minimize the importance of knowing this information in relations to ministry work.

Many Women’s Ministries take the summer off or at least slow down a bit.  Use this time to learn more about the women you are serving.  Ask your Pastor for the information.  Or, send a survey to the women in your church.

Survey Monkey is a great service and you can build a survey online with TEN questions for free.  Anything above 10 questions requires a fee.  It also allows your ladies to complete the survey anonymously.  Not everyone is eager to share their personal details to the public.

For information about your community, look to your local community organizations and ministries.  Some may have the information already posted on their website, if not you should be able to get the information via a quick phone call or email.

Sex, God, & You – Feb 10

aifeb2017

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

Click on Register Today and watch a short video about event or to purchase tickets.

 

A Leader’s Heart by Trish Jones

biblehand

So thankful that Trish allowed me to share her heart for Women’s Ministry with you all.

~ Gena McCown, Co-Founder WMC

Our newly-rebooted women’s ministry leadership team met recently with Jenny Andrews to learn more about mentoring. The day before that meeting, I was moved to spend several pre-dawn hours trying to put into words what God had placed on my heart. This was an unedited letter sent to my team, with certainly no idea of sharing it with a larger audience – who would know or care? I did, however, copy Gena on it as another means of further introducing myself to the Women’s Ministry Council. To my surprise, she asked if I would allow for its publication. This is pretty much as it flew off my fingers – meaning it’s quite long and wordy – but it does express my firmly-held beliefs about women’s ministry – beliefs that appear to be shared by many. So, I offer it without apology, with the prayer that you may find it challenging and helpful, and for the glory of our King and Lord Jesus Christ.    ~ Trish Jones

Dear Sisters: To use perhaps an overworked “Christianese” term, but an apt one – I’m heavily burdened with many things that right now are all connected, in one way or another, to “women’s ministry.”

I don’t know about you, but the events in this country over the past two weeks have left me almost literally nauseous and terribly sad. The hatred and division that is spewing forth from multiple sources and appearing in full blown color on our TV screens – indeed, everywhere we turn – is ugly and frightening. And growing. The women’s marches that took place across the US the day after the Inauguration were breath-taking in their scope of lostness, vitriol and perversity. But – if we were to engage any one of those woman on an individual basis, we would have found someone just like us – lost, hurting, angry, with brokenness and pain in their lives, just looking for hope and peace in the only ways they know or believe in.

The open war that has been declared and is increasing daily between “conservative” and “liberal” viewpoints, values, opinions, and stances is growing bloodier and more vicious, as the media – and I mean both sides of it – have taken off the gloves of even rudimentary politeness. There is no such thing as “news” anymore – it’s simply slanted headlines delivered by talking heads who have their own agenda. And yes, that’s just as true of Fox News as it is CNN. And it is tragically but increasingly true of “conservative, Christian” news sources.

Our country is staggering towards – what? Only God knows. But the pace of change and the bloody carnage it is leaving in its wake touches each of us, whether we choose to believe that or not. We may try very hard to pull the comforting blanket of our own church-based, family-oriented little worlds tighter around us to ward off the ugliness and protect our children and our grandchildren – but it isn’t going to work. It’s here. And it’s growing.

And it should not surprise us at all.

 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

You know one of the things that has struck hardest at my heart, oddly enough? The recent deaths of famous people – people who have entertained me, who are of my generation. Most recently, Mary Tyler Moore. She was 80. I’ll be 70 in April. She appeared to be – because of the characters she played – sweet, loving, wholesome, kind – a woman to be admired. Really? Where do you suppose she is now? She’s alive – somewhere. Where?

Alan Thicke. He was only 69. Again, apparently one of the good guys. Where is he now? And Debbie Reynolds, for goodness sake! Dying one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher – who admittedly led a fairly rough life. Golfing’s greatest, Arnold Palmer. A good guy, to be sure. Florence Henderson, Hugh O’Brien. John Glenn – the American hero. George Michael: a great musical talent who led a dark and twisted life. And then there’s Fidel Castro. Where are they now?

Their achievements, their careers – their movies, the pleasures, fun, entertainment they brought to our lives – what do they matter now? How important are they now? Oh, it may have been fun while it lasted – but was it enough – for eternity? Fidel Castro – his destiny is fairly obvious. But Debbie Reynolds? Mary Tyler Moore? Robin Williams?

I don’t know why their deaths have impacted me so, except to say they have reminded me of my own mortality and the swiftness with which my life here can end. I’m not afraid of death at all; it’s nothing more than a welcome door to eternal happiness with my Lord. But what about everyone else? Death is real – but what lies beyond that doorway is even more real – and everlasting.

So what does that have to do with women’s ministry? Well – everything. As I’ve been seeking God’s will and direction through prayer and His (living!!!) Word for such a ministry at our church, I keep coming up against one major question: What’s the point? What are we trying to do – and why?

Let me share two more verses from that same passage that hit me like a ton of bricks. And keep in mind, Sisters, I didn’t write them – God spoke them:

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:6,7)

Whoa. This letter isn’t meant to be an exposition of this passage. There is much here to be learned by careful study, comparison with other Scripture, and the wisdom God has given other commentators. But those are pretty strong words – about us. Women. There are 1,000 things that can – and probably should – be said about this, but there’s one phrase that sticks out to me: “let astray by various passions”.

As I’ve been wrestling (correct word – this has been and is a battle) with the idea of “women’s ministry” and what it is supposed to be (in God’s will) for our church, I literally wrote down the names of many women I know who attend there. I won’t share them – you could make your own (in fact, I encourage you to do exactly that). I wrote them down as fast as they came to me – women from all ages, lifestyles, and spiritual maturity (as much as I can discern). Every one of them I know personally, some better than others. But I know their lives and at least some of what they wrestle with and what they are suffering – their “various passions:” sinful strongholds, financial difficulties, physical ailments, relationships gone wrong, family pains and tragedies, fear, anxiety, lack of knowledge of and faith in a sovereign, loving God, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, defiant, rebellious living, the consequences of past sins, repented of but the consequences remain, loneliness, sexual desires and sins – the list goes on. You may know many of the names on that list; women whom you may think “have it all together.”

I wrote them down – I sat back – I studied the list, I pictured each woman – and I asked: what do they need? I added myself to the list: what do I need?

Wham! Good question – but wrong question to ask first. Is a women’s ministry – or any ministry – supposed to be based upon what people need? Really?

Why are we here? What is our purpose in this life, on this earth? Why did God leave us here after He saved us? “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Combine that with Jesus’ words in Matthew 22 and you have the basic structure of women’s ministry:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,38)

I picked up several books on women’s ministry, but started with one from The Gospel Coalition called Word-Filled Women’s Ministry, edited by Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielson – two major names and leaders in women’s ministry. I would strongly encourage each of you to get one and read it. But here are a couple of quotes that I highlighted:wfwm

“Women’s ministry is ultimately not about women. Nor is it about programs. It’s about the glory of God and the health of his church.” (Melissa B. Kruger, Women’s Ministry Coordinator, Uptown Church)

“Profitable ministry among women is grounded in God’s Word, grows in the context of God’s people, and aims for the glory of Christ.” (Kathleen Nielson)

What do all those women need? What do I need? To be about the Father’s business. To be part of having His will done on earth as in heaven; to see and be a part of His Kingdom expanding. To know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and to share in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

How do we do that – in women’s ministry, or any other area of “Body life?” Back to 2 Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:16,17)

If our Women’s Ministry – in fact, if our Life Groups, our Bible Studies, our church services, our service to our community, our evangelistic trainings and church-planting efforts, our children’s ministry, our youth groups, our church itself – if any of that is not based upon the personal, God-breathed, living Word of God, taught and practiced and obeyed for the glory of Jesus Christ – it is an absolute waste of our time and efforts, is outside the will of God, and will be consumed by fire on that Day. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

Well. As usual, when I get started writing something, I’m off to the races. I’m a fast typist, so I can get a lot done in a relatively short period of time – but then I wind up with pages and pages. But – if you’ve stuck with me this long, I’ve got a few more things to share that – for me – have set the tone of why I’m even involved with this leadership team and where I think God is leading us – and why.

I’m simply going to quote what I have written in my “Women’s Ministry Journal” (I set aside a specific one for this very purpose). Some are questions I asked myself; some are my thoughts and beliefs. I offer them as starting points for your own reflection and comments. As I’ve already said (for three full pages!) – I had to wrestle with why I was even involved in this; was this something God wanted to do; if so, why? and what was the point of it all? You’ve seen the answer I came up with. What forms that will take, what that will look like, in practical ways, is still to be determined. But I had to lay a foundation in my own mind before I could go any further.

What do I want in this ministry? What do I believe God wants?

    • For women to see Jesus as central to their lives, regardless of circumstances
    • For women to have a hunger for the Word of God – to know it, study it, live it
    • For American women to be focused on the Kingdom – not our comfort; focused on the Glory of God, not us
    • For women to live with eternity in view – in our lives, the lives of our children and families and our world
    • For women to be instruments of healing, of reconciliation, of peace – across racial, socio-economic, political lines
    • For women to look up and out – to be the hands and feet of Jesus (example of Dorcas, Acts 9:36-42)

Why a specific women’s ministry?

  • Women used to (and in many other cultures, still do) congregate around a communal well, or river, or fire pit – to draw water, cook, wash clothes
    • They “did life” together naturally
    • Older women naturally shared/mentored/trained younger women
    • Life stories were shared, lessons learned
  • American life just a generation ago was still very much this way, especially rural American life – quilting bees, church socials, active neighborhoods – in and out of church, women knew one another and shared life
    • This is no longer true in our Western, American culture. We are withdrawn, independent, separated
  • We all need supported, encouraged, loved, nurtured, admonished, trained, held accountable and made to feel safe with each other

How do we live for the glory of Jesus Christ; the expansion of His Kingdom; and the service of His people through the women’s ministry of our church? That’s what we need to determine – in that order.

“Women’s ministry must be first and foremost grounded in the Word. We must not start with the needs of women – although we must get to those needs. As in the case of any church ministry, in women’s ministry we must start with the Word of God at the heart of everything we do.” (Kathleen Neilson)

So. On this early Friday morning, as I prepare for our meeting tomorrow – this essay is just to share what’s on my heart. I hope it helps in some way to spark your own passions and thoughts and prayers for what we are doing. But even more importantly – for the why of what we are doing. Or to be even more exact: the WHO. He is able – and He is worthy.

Women’s Ministry Road Trip

roadtrip1

Women’s Ministry Road Trip by Gena McCown, Co-Founder

The kids at our churches gather for a weeklong VBS, or go off to a fun camp during summer breaks.  Our youth groups go on missions trips, off to camps, and weekend Christian concerts held by big amusement parks.  Dare I ask… what about us?

Yes, there are a lot of great Women’s Conferences that we can shuttle off to.  We may have a two hour luncheon every other month too.  But, have you ever gotten in the car with a group of women from your church and taken off on an adventure?  On a non structured, registration not required, sleep in until 10am if you like… full of fun, food, and fellowship… adventure?  Or, have you ever considered taking your Women’s Ministry on a women only mission trip to minister to women rescued from the sex trafficking industry?

Why not?

Rent a cottage on the beach or in the mountains for a weeklong retreat with your women’s small group.

Have a sleepover when the men are away camping or hunting, and have a great time bonding with the leaders from your Women’s Ministry team.

This fall, rent a bus, take off to Washington D.C. and check out the new Museum of the Bible .  Then, go sight seeing or visit museums.  Eat good food.  Shop. Laugh.

Plan a Women’s Ministry trip to the next Acquire the Fire, Night of Joy, or Hillsong Concert.

Organize a mission trip for the Women’s Ministry, either within the US or outside.

Buy group tickets to a Food Festival or even a local carnival/fair and eat funnel cake and get stuck at the top of the Ferris Wheel together.

The women we are serving are not targets or projects, but real women who desire to laugh until their sides hurt.  They want to have memories to put in their scrapbooks, ticket stubs to collect, and moments to look forward to on their calendars where they can simply enjoy life with their sisters.

Do you have any fun or out of the box ideas that were successful in your Women’s Ministry?  We’d love to hear about these ideas!  Comment here, or consider writing a piece for our site on your event and how you coordinated it.

The End… or is it???

theendorisit

At the end of the year, we reflect back on the past twelve months.  This reflection period helps us to determine what was working in our lives and what wasn’t.  We will make resolutions about our hopes for the new year.  Things we want to change.  New adventures we want to take.  Big decisions that need to be made, and small ones too.  We look to make our bodies healthier, and our minds stronger.  Some people will choose to leave a job that is not fulfilling, others will dedicate themselves to trying harder to land the next promotion.

The end of the year isn’t really the end, but rather the beginning.

The end of a chapter that leads us to the next step in our journey.  The end of a book is an opportunity to start a new adventure.  As long as we wake up on this side of heaven, there is still a place for our gifts and talents in this world.

What does this mean to Women’s Ministry?

It means that it is time for you and your team to reevaluate your ministry work, determining what events and programs stay and which should go.  But, it is also a time for self reflection.

* Are you still called to be the Women’s Ministry Leader?  (Or, other position title)

* Are you still called to serve on the Women’s Ministry Team, at all?

* Is the Lord calling you to a new ministry, or a season of rest?

There are times where we are called to step down from authority positions, but not necessarily to leave the team.  Your heart might still be dedicated to Women’s Ministry, but you are in a season that lacks the time to dedicate to the leadership position.  You can step down permanently or even select an interim leader and take a leave of absence.   However, there are times the Lord has a new place for your gifts and talents, and it may be time to leave the ministry altogether.  It is important to pray for discernment so that you know which is the path the Lord would have you take.  Keep in mind that the Lord may also call you to a season of rest.  I once had a friend tell me that the Lord won’t move you until He has somewhere for you to go.    I’ve learned that is not always the case.  Sometimes we are called into a desert period, where we have left what we knew… but we are not ready to go to the promise land yet.  The Lord may move you to a season of rest, where your priority is your direction relationship with Him; a season of growth and maturity to prepare you for the next leg in your journey.

If you have been feeling as if the Lord is moving you out of Women’s Ministry, then there are some other questions you should consider for the new year.

* Have I begun training my replacement?

* Have I made my team or Pastors’ aware of my intentions?

* Do I have people praying over me, my decision, and the ministry?

* If the Lord is calling  you to a specific ministry, have you reached out to their leadership team and expressed your interest in joining their work?

* If the Lord is calling you to a season of rest, have you prayed for clarity on what that looks like and shared this with those who will keep you accountable?

If you know in your heart that your season with Women’s Ministry is coming to a close, the greatest gift you can leave your team and church is a team that is going to function well in your absence and in the transition period.  Giving advance notice of your intention to step down, identifying and developing your replacement, and assuring your church leaders that you will be available to the new leader in an advisory role during the transition can make the process move smoothly. 

Final considerations, should you determine it is time to leave your role in the Women’s Ministry:

* How will you handle your exit?  Will you step away completely or ease out over a period of time?

* How am I going to handle team members coming to me with WM issues, now that I am not the leader?

* How will I handle members of the church coming to me with WM issues, now that I am not the leader?

Something I like to remind WM Leaders is that they leave a legacy.  Some women don’t like change, and when a new leader steps up it usually brings change along with it.  If you feel called to leave, then you have a responsibility to support the leaderWhether you choose to step away complete or ease out, make sure that you are encouraging the women you serve with (church leaders, church members) to take their concerns to the new leader and not to you.  Or, you can reassure them that all changes take time to get accustomed to and to be patient.  Being supportive of the new season allows you to leave a legacy that includes exiting with grace.

The People We Need in Ministry Work

hands.jpg

I’ve always loved the hands in group huddle.  I believe what is most appealing about this type of encouragement is how no one person stands at the center.  Hands from every direction reach into the center, combining together to create a woven tapestry of people working together to accomplish a task.

Our lives as Christians are not meant to be lived alone, in solitude.  The Lord calls us into fellowship with our family of believers.

Leadership is not meant to be lonely either.  Jesus had his twelve.  The apostles traveled in groups, sometimes with one another or at minimum among their supporters.  They relied on one another to discuss the matters of faith.  When a lot of mixed messages were being sent out, they convened at the Council of Jerusalem in order to set things straight.

I would dig even deeper to point out that the twelve who followed Jesus were not mirrors of Christ, nor each other.  Each person had a different history and story to tell.  They had different personalities and roles to play in the every day work of the ministry.  We too, as leaders, need people who fulfill different roles in our inner circle.

We need a mentor, and we need someone we can teach.  We need an encourage, as much as we need the skeptic in our lives.  We need someone with wisdom and discernment, as well as someone who has the gift of prayer.  We need those who will walk along side us, willing to disagree with us, willing to discuss difficult matters with us.

And, as we build our Women’s Ministry teams… we should seek these same types of people to fulfill those roles.  We can’t have a team made up only those who encourage.  We need people who have passion for teaching and hospitality.  We need people who heed the call to pray for the church, the ministry, and the community.  Women who are fiscally gifted as just as important as they are good stewards with the ministry budget.

Over the next few weeks we are going to explore some of the roles of our leadership teams.  What is the role?  Why is it important?  What does the Bible say about it?  And, how do we find a person to fill that role?

Don’t forget to visit our EVENTS page and RSVP for upcoming events!

Ministry Spotlight: MOPS International

 

mops

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.