Back to School!

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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?

  1.  Mentoring.   It is so valuable to any mother to have in her circle of friends and mentors the woman who has already walked this road.  We lean heavy into those who have gone through these days, learn from them about the beauty of what is to come.
  2. Calendars.  When you are planning your Women’s Ministry events, consider your local school calendars.  Find out important dates like school vacations and major events like Prom and Graduation.  Try your best to schedule events away from these times, as parents may be out of town on holiday or celebrating milestones with family who have traveled into town.  Be sure to consider private school schedules, which may differ from public.  If your church services more than one county, be sure to take into account the other county schedules as well.
  3. Clothing Swaps.  Back to school can be an expensive year, bring in all of your school clothes that the kids grew out of and swap with other moms.  Or, take those collected clothes and bring them to shelters for homeless women and children.
  4. Supply Drives.  Use your women’s ministry events as an opportunity to collect school supplies and take them to schools in need, or local children’s group home.  Bless the moms in your church who could use a hand offsetting back to school expenses.
  5. Connections.  Connect moms who have children in the same schools, so they can get to know each other better.  Help establish car pool groups, after school child care volunteers for working parents, etc.
  6. Volunteer.  Start a after school program for children in your local schools, teach them about Christ, friendships, character qualities, etc.  Moms would love to know their kids are being invested into vs. babysat at after school programs.
  7. Celebrate.  For the moms who are becoming empty nesters for the first time, meet up with them during these first weeks especially and celebrate!
  8. Small Groups.   Add a day time small group that meets when the kids are school, this is a great opportunity for our stay home parents.  They can meet with a local small group to study the word, without taking away valuable family time at nights and on the weekends.

Prayer & Worship, Training Event Recap

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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 MattersMoody Publishing provided our women with sample chapters from two newly released studies I am Found and An Unexplainable LifeCrossway 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….

Worship Matters

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.

Praying Matters

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.

Ministry Spotlight: One Child Matters

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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 websiteOr, 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.

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.

Pray Top Down

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A standard protocol for any ministry is to pray for God’s protection and favor over their work.  At a Women’s Ministry team meeting, we may pray for each others’ personal requests, for the event we are planning, and the women in the church. How often do you make sure to include praying for your Pastor, Staff, Church, and the Community it is serving?

So often we are focused on our own ministry needs that we forget that we are part of a bigger ministry in our community.  We are focused on our own ministry, and our own church… and we may forget about the other ministries and churches that are serving in our areas as well.  We also may be so focused on our role in serving in our ministry area that we forget that we are part of a body larger that we serve as well.

As we delve into the topic of Prayer & Worship in your Women’s Ministry at this weekends training event, we want to make sure that we don’t neglect to remind our leaders the importance of praying beyond your ministry.  We are grateful for The Good Book Company’s book “5 Things to Pray for Your Church”, which walks you through the ways you can be praying for your church, your role within it, and beyond your church walls.  The women attending our training event will be receiving a copy of this book courtesy of The Good Book Company.

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A posture of prayer needs to start from the top down.  As ministry workers who are part of a larger church body, before we begin praying for our own ministry needs and direction, we must begin with the church from the top down.  We pray for protection over the building, and we pray that our Pastors will be protected & have wisdom in shepherding the flock. We can even go a step further up, as we pray for our country and elected officials and how they will respond, represent, and protect the rights of the church.

As we lead the women in our church to a posture of prayer, and model the behavior and practice before them, we can also help them to foster a position of prayer over the church they call home.

Model the Prayer

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For some people prayer seems to come naturally, it pours off their lips like sweet nectar.  We can even be envious of another person’s ability to pray, as their heartfelt words sound like music to the soul.  For others, prayer is like walking through a room full of mouse traps with a raw egg on a spoon… hoping you can make it to the other side with out falling.  We can recognize the preciousness of what we are carrying (sweet words to the Lord), we understand the importance of our task (to honor and praise Him, to confess and surrender to Him), and yet the words just do not flow at all.

There are those whom the Lord has anointed the spiritual gift of intercessory prayer.  While we are not to covet or try and take a gift that was not intended of us, prayer is not an exclusive gift that only some of us get.   The scriptures give us multiple examples of people who cried out to the Lord, written prayers of the saints, and even Jesus himself was asked:  Lord, how do we pray?  He answered with The Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer is something that we are all called to participate in, and yet a common area new believers (and even some seasoned believers) stumble through.

Here is the GOOD NEWS… a prayer can be as simple as crying out the Lord… Oh, God!  For the Lord knows what is on our hearts and what burdens us.  He knows the trouble we face, He understands the words that we fail to utter in our despair.  The Lord is also patient, and He will listen as you unload every word running through your head… whether it is in eloquent sentences or broken up by sobs.  He mourns when we mourn, because He loves us so deeply.  He rejoices when we pray to Him in thankfulness and praise.  He hears the hushed tone Thank you, Lord as much as the loud Thank You JESUS for your blessings of which I do not deserve!

Yet, there is MORE good news.   When we want to understand more about how to pray, the scriptures are there to answer that need.  We will learn what TO DO and what NOT to do in our prayer life.  We have the example of The Lord’s Pray, and the prayers of others who have come before us.   In addition, we have books that can help us improve our prayer life.  Whether it is a book of sample prayers, books that have pulled out the prayers directly from the scriptures, and books that walk you through the process of praying from your own heart.

As Women’s Ministry Leaders we can help foster an attitude of prayer in our church by modeling prayer in our personal lives.  We can also help foster a posture of prayer in the lives of the women in our church by helping them develop prayer habits.  Prayer teams do not need to be made up of only those who excel in prayer.  They can be a great place to put women who desire to deepen their prayer life.  Prayer rooms can provide direction and resources, as well as women who are available to help model prayer to those who walk in those doors.

Another option is to begin an intentional step toward developing good prayer habits by adding Prayer to your Small Groups menu.  This weekend the women in attendance at our training event will be receiving a copy of Susan Hunt’s Prayers of the Bible study book and leader guide.  Not only is this a great opportunity to talk with your existing small group leaders, about having a small group focused on prayer… but it is a great introduction to get NEW small group leaders in place.  If you have a woman who is already a prayer warrior, but didn’t think she could be a small group leader… WHAT A GREAT WAY TO GET HER STARTED!  This would allow her to get her feet wet in the leader process while leading a subject that is already near and dear to her heart.

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Thank You P&R Publishing for your support in our upcoming Women’s Ministry Council training event on Prayer and Worship & their role in our Women’s Ministry programs!

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Lead Them to Pray

This week, in preparation for our Prayer & Worship Training Event , the Women’s Ministry Council invited member Jenny Andrews to contribute to the conversation.  Jenny is going to share with us practical tips for Starting a Prayer Team  in your Women’s Ministry. 
Before starting or agreeing to start either ministry in the church be sure to go before the Lord in prayer  about what it takes to start either or both. Both take time and both require diligence. Like any good steward we are called to count the cost of starting a ministry or team.
After you have done that if you are feeling called go see the Pastor who would be responsible for such ministry. My Senior Pastor was not over this particular ministry, the Associate Pastor was so I went to him. Or, connect with current prayer team leader and ask to how you can help.
I would ask a few important questions:
1. What is your vision for prayer in the church/women’s ministry?
          a. Most likely the pastor and other leaders are aware of the weak areas in the body of  Christ and they can help you be intentional on specific areas of prayer.  (i.e. prayer  chain, prayer team, prayer room, prayer night)
2. How can I help you in that vision?
Once you get those questions answered it is now time to pray about building a team for the prayer ministry.  Use the pastor’s vision as your guideline for the prayer vision for the year. Meet with them yearly around the same time the recast vision and assess prayer needs.
1. Start with key leadership and ask them if they are aware of any women who they would
consider women of prayer.
2. Begin looking for woman in your small group or in casual conversations who are desiring to pray with you and others.
3. Make a list of people and begin praying over them.
4. Make a list of responsibilities that would be required to be a part of the team.
          a. i.e. no gossiping, live life of godliness (not perfection), willing to learn.
          b. You can also look online fore prayer guidelines that will help you make up your list.
          c. Do a separate list of responsibilities for prayer team and for prayer room if you are   doing both.
 5. Send out personal invites to the potential team members for a meet and greet.
 6. Plan out a year of prayer events before meet and greet
          a. Have your dates in writing, you don’t have to have details of events or meetings       just that they are happening.
          b. Get on the church calendar schedule so they know you are having events.
 7. Pray for a potential assistant or co-leader for team they will help you tremendously.
8. At the meet and greet:
           a. Share the vision of the team/room.
          b. Share the responsibilities
          c. Allow them to have input on needs of prayer
           d. Share with them calendar
          e. Do brainstorm for prayer event ideas
          f. Look for potential leader to help you in this meeting
 9. Follow through with events
10. Keep team up to date on everything and encourage them often.
Remember this is not a to-do list it is a suggested list and can be tweaked to fit your particular church  body needs.
Study to show yourself approved. I would encourage you to study spiritual warfare as it  goes hand and hand with prayer. My encouragement would be David Platt’s series on Angels, demons and spiritual warfare. Pray for discernment and wisdom often as you will need it. Research praying scripture and praying God’s will in accordance with the bible.
It will be a slow process and it does take time but your efforts and diligence will pay off in the long run.  Remember to keep Christ as the center of you prayer team and never be afraid to ask for help in area unknown to you. Remain teachable and steadfast in prayer.
Prayer meetings can happen anywhere.   You can host them in the main sanctuary of your church, or even at a local park.  A popular trend is the establishing of a prayer room in your church.  This is usually a quite space, where women can come to pray alone or in groups.  Some are decorated and stocked with resources on prayers, and others are just a friendly space with some chairs.  A door that can close for privacy is recommended.   You may even choose to have a prayer garden or walk on your church property.  For some ideas on Prayer Rooms, visit our Pinterest Page.

Jenny Andrews is a wife of 14 yrs, a mother to 3 wonderful boys and a devoted followed of Jesus. She desires to encourage and equip women to be all that the Lord has called them be.  She enjoys speaking and teaching the Word of God. For more information you can find Jenny Andrews on her Facebook page.