A Word From Guest: Dr. Naima Johnston Bush

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The Women’s Ministry Council is pleased to introduce you to Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, from Refreshing Life with Naima.  Naima is a supporter of our ministry work.  If you will be attending our live training event in Florida, on June 30th, we will have a few door prizes from Naima to give away.  PLUS… expect something special from her at our LeadHer Conference on October 6th in Hobe Sound, FL.

It is summer time, and perhaps your ministry is taking a break.  This break from ministry obligations is a perfect time to lean in the Lord, seeking His guidance and direction for you personally.  Dr. Naima Johnston Bush has a few words on what hinders us & how to move beyond those hinderances.  

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4 Things That Keep You From Achieving Your God Given Dreams!

Inside of each of us is a purpose, a destiny only we can fulfill. As the cares of life encompass us we often lose sight of those original dreams that the Lord has placed in our hearts and settle for living a life of just getting by. Take a moment and ask yourself right now, are you truly living a life filled with Christ’s purpose? Are you walking in the fullness of your ministry and applying your gifts to advance the kingdom of Christ?

Most of us are not. I wasn’t. Until I quit my job in 2002 to form Broken Box Ministries. It wasn’t always easy, I didn’t have the tools, resources or information to do what I felt God was calling me to do. Furthermore, I felt that I was just too old to move forward and begin pursuing my dream. It seemed impossible…. I was so unsure of what to do or how too even do it. I needed to trust the Lord. All this is summed up in one of my favorite Tweets;

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible!”

Maybe you’re not called to quit your job and go into fulltime ministry, but you still have a dream! To start a business or nonprofit? Be a missionary? Start or grow a ministry at your church? There is a problem you are assigned to fix, something only you can accomplish! So what’s holding you back? After traveling the country and talking to tons of people I’ve discovered 4 things that keep people from achieving their God given dreams, and I’m working hard to help people overcome these issues. Ask yourself, are any of these me?

Number 1 –  Fear

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

We’re all afraid of something, but moving forward in spite of this fear is a true testament of not only courage but of faith. Perhaps you’re not moving forward to pursue that dream because you fear that God didn’t really call you to it, you’re not good enough, you don’t want to face rejection, you’re afraid it won’t work out… The list can go on and on.

Maybe you tried once and you believe you failed. But did you really fail?  Ask yourself if there was any fruit at all from the situation, did you learn anything, get closer to God, bless anyone? What we think of as failure can be a part of God’s plan for us. Just look at Thomas Edison, how many times did he fail before he got the light bulb right? Look it up… and I’m sure we can believe that electric lights were part of God’s plan!

But the first step to overcoming fear is admitting it to the Lord; then taking a step in the direction you feel He’s calling you to. You can move forward to overcome your fears. God believes in you, so you just need to believe in yourself.

Answer the following questions:

What Are Your Greatest Fears? Take these fears to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help you move past them. After praying how do you feel? Keep praying and believing and you will see change!

List five practical ways you can overcome your fears. For example if you fear you’re not good enough to do what God is calling you to do or you don’t have the ability, make a list of all the scriptures you can find that tell you who you are in Christ and what you can do through Him. Read that list daily until the Word is hidden in your heart. What other ways can you think of?

Number 2 – Lack of Resources

You may feel you can’t go forward because you don’t have the proper resources to do what you know you’ve been called to do. There is always a way to get started, even if you don’t have a million bucks in your hand. If God called you to do it, then you have what you need in your hand – Read Judges Chapter 6 and use Gideon as role model, I do!

There is one simple fact that cannot be denied when you are facing a lack of resources to move forward in your God given dream. You know someone somewhere who has what you need or knows someone who has what you need. All you have to do is pray and then ask. I’ve gotten more stuff that I’ve needed in the last few months from folks simply by asking! Staff volunteers, recording equipment, financial donations, assistance in booking just to name a few. The Word tells us to ask and we shall receive, so get to asking. And remember God’s law of reaping and sowing, if someone asks you, be sure to give it if you got it!

Answer the following questions:

What are your biggest needs to get started?

Who can you ask for assistance to get moving? List those folks:

Select a concrete date on when you’ll ask them for what you need:

Remember!

  • Don’t be afraid to ask them for suggestions if they don’t have what you need

  • Take what they are willing to give, God can do much with a little

  • Apply the 2 Step Approach, “Pray and Then Ask!”

Number 3 – You Think It’s Too Late

One of the things I hear from people is that they think it is too late for them to achieve their God given dream.  But, I believe that as long as there is breath in your body there is time to achieve some part of the dream that God has placed on your heart, for the advancement of the Kingdom.  It may be modified, it may not grow to be exactly what you thought it would be, but if you still have strength, you still have time.

I always think of Abraham and the promise that the Lord gave him and Sarah, the promise became Abraham’s dream and although he saw some of it come to pass, he didn’t see it all come into fruition. But he did what God called him to do after getting hemmed up in Egypt, messing around with his nephew Lot and having a child with the handmaid. Delays, these were delays, but they did not take the Lord by surprise! God still brought forth His promise to Abraham, his dream of being a father. In essence Abraham set the foundation for a dream that would belong to the entire world. A dream that would turn into a blessing for the whole world.

So the past does not matter, the time to start is today. What if the dream in your heart, is simply this, the foundation of a bigger dream that will meet the needs of millions of others?

Get Moving! Don’t wait another minute, the Bible tells us…

If you wait for perfect conditions you will never get anything done.

(Ecclesiastes 11: 4)

Ask yourself, what does your dream entail that you feel is limited by time? For example, what if you felt you were suppose to be a champion figure skater, you love ice skating, but now in your 40’s you’re to old to pursue that dream. But you know the Lord has placed that passion in your heart. After much prayer, you could found a ministry that reaches out to figure skaters, or arranges free lessons to children who can’t afford lessons while also training them in the truths of the Word of God. Or maybe you could become a coach’s assistant and win a future world champion to the Lord, who will then share the gospel with millions through their athletic efforts. Time does not diminish the promise of God!

Answer the following questions:

List the limitations you feel you’re facing because you feel it’s to late.

Spend some serious time in prayer asking the Lord to reveal to you how your original dream should look now. Journal those answers, then make a commitment to do one thing everyday to achieve the dream.

Number 4 – Lack of Trust

Ultimately, the real reason we don’t move forward to achieve our God given dreams is a lack of trust. We either don’t trust ourselves or we don’t trust the Lord. Nobody wants to admit that they are having trouble trusting God, but I think most of us are not even aware that we’re not trusting the Lord.

Maybe you don’t trust that you heard from the Lord and you don’t want to make a mistake. Maybe you’re not sure what the Lord is telling you to do. Maybe you don’t trust that you can do what God has called you to do. But this is where your faith must kick in. This is where you have to walk by faith. I’m sure Noah must have wondered if he was really hearing from the Lord when he began building the ark. But God had placed in his heart a dream and the dream saved the future.

The truth of the matter is if you really desire to please God, if you really want to follow Him and you start to take steps to do what He’s placed in your heart to do if you are out of order the Lord will correct you. Failures may occur, and things may not always work out like you think they should but that does not mean God has not called you to move forward in this dream.

Nothing replaces prayer and fasting and the word for getting direction from the Lord. Make up your mind that you will walk by faith and not by sight, trusting that Lord will lead you, outline the dream and lay it on the altar, pray over it, speak life over it and then begin to move forward in faith!

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

(James 2 :17)

To Build Trust:

Spend time practicing listening to and for the voice of the Lord, so that you are attuned to hearing His direction for the advancement of the dream that He has given you.

Commit each step to the Lord and ask for confirmation of those things, which He has called you to do. Get wise counsel.

Remember you can hear from the Lord for yourself, sometimes you have to just trust that you know and take a step.

Simply take a step in faith and see where God takes you!

Answer the following questions:

Give your dream a name, describe it, what is it and what does it look like?

List all of the ways that God has come through for you in the past:

Ask yourself, how is this any different?

For Further Reading: The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkerson

Remember, your God given dream is not for you alone, but for the advancement of the Kingdom, the glory of the Lord and in the service of His people. On that last day you want to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

So get cracking, the HARVEST is ripe and the LABORERS are few!

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This article is taken from: Go With What You Got, Dr. Nay’s Guide To Develop Your Dream, Pursue Your Passion and Achieve God’s Will For Your Life.   © Dr. Naima Johnston- Bush, Refreshing Life with Naima www.ministryofnaima.com
A dynamic singer, speaker, educator and author, Dr. Naima Bush uses her artistic gifts to communicate the love of Christ across the nation ministering at over 100 dates a year. Naima has written and produced her debut album entitled, Everything, her sophomore album, This Place and her latest CD, The Deeper Project. Naima is the author of Called To Sing, 13 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting In Music Ministry, Dr. Nay’s Random Life Lessons, Go With What You Got; Dr Nay’s Dream Development Manual, Confessions of a Big Girl and her newest book, Lessons from the Back Seat or How I Learned to be a Wife.
Originally from New York City, Naima holds a BA in Sociology/Women’s Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University, a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration and a PhD in Educational Foundations from The Ohio State University. Naima is the founder of The Refreshing Life with Naima, a Christian lifestyle organization dedicated to empowering women to live lives of exuberant joy, powerful prayer and sincere gratitude.
Naima is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Christian Songwriters and Musicians International, and ASCAP. Naima is an ordained minister and is married to Pastor Jon Bush, they live in New Llano, LA with their doggy children, Bianca and Bucho.  

Leadership Calendar – June 2018

June 2018

We really appreciate your patience through our technical difficulties with this month’s calendar.    We are really excited by the response to our monthly calendars, they are our most visited and revisited posts!  As always, we have created it in a coloring sheet style that you can add your own flair too.  Use the comment section below to share ideas you think we should include on future calendars.  

Past calendars can be found on our download & printables page.

Before they will linger, you must invite.

THE BFF

If the women who attend our events are given an opportunity to linger, they are going to connect.  And, sometimes, reconnect.  At an event a few weeks ago, I happened to check my Facebook account and saw a familiar name had checked in at the event.  It was one of my closest friends from early elementary school.  Changing schools and time had disconnected us.  Now, 30 years later we were in the same place at the same time.  Had there not been some time to linger after the event, I wouldn’t have know… possibly ever.  Since the event, we have reconnected to find out that God moved our families into our current city in the same year… we have kids attending the same schools.  How crazy?  God crazy.

The thing is, you can’t embrace the linger until you send out the invites and follow up on them.  Your invite needs to include all of the pertinent information:

  • The name/purpose of the event.
  • Date and time.
  • Location.
  • Cost and registration deadlines.
  • Childcare availability or suggestions.

In addition, you can include things the guests should bring (Bible, notebook, etc.) or even if there is a dress code for the event (funny hats, comfy clothes, art smocks, etc.).  I also recommend informing your guests ahead of time if there will be opportunities to purchase items from the speaker, event themes, etc. that they may want to budget for.  Also, let your attendees know if there is going to be time to linger.  “Join us for the after party” or “lunch on the lawn after the event” are quick ways to let anyone registering for the event know to add a little extra time in their day to linger and mingle with others in attendance.

20 years of ministry leadership has taught a very important thing about inviting guests: an invitation without follow up will dramatically impact your attendance and registration.

If you mail an invite, it can get lost in the mail.  If you just simply mention it over Sunday announcements, people may forget to write it down or late comers will miss the news.  Not everyone is on social media, and emails can fall into the abyss of junk mail with ease.  To reach the most people, it is wise to use multiple avenues to share your invitation.

  • Service Announcement + Printed in Bulletin + Email + Website/Church Calendar
  • Printed in Bulletin + Email + Facebook + Posters in Women’s Bathroom
  • Announcements + Hand out Flyers in Church Lobby + Social Media Posts

Any combination of these is a sure fire way to extend your invitations reach, the more the better.

Yet, there is one SURE FIRE way to up your attendance…

PERSONAL INVITATIONS

A personal invitation is just that, personal.  When you call, email, or text a person (not as a group) and express your interest in whether or not they will be attending the event ensures that your guests feel wanted and valued.  It shows that the ministry really cares about who is coming to the event.

You may be thinking that calling every woman in the church and personally inviting her is going to be quite a task.  It is, but here is how to handle it:

  1. First publish the event and allow your more motivated, committed guests register.  Now you only need reach out to the women who didn’t.  You have reduced the number of calls/texts to make.
  2. Every church has “connectors” people who just naturally seem to attract others.  Make sure your “connectors” are sharing on their social media and with friends that they are attending the event, and encourage their friends to do so.  Having connectors on your planning committee is another way to up your attendance.
  3. Divide up the remaining women that you want to extend a personal invitation to between your Women’s Ministry Team and volunteers.  It may be a lot for 1 person to call/text 100 women from the church.  But, it is a far smaller task to have 10 team members reach out to 10 women from the church.

As you begin to invite more people, the chatter will begin.  Women will begin talking about the event on their own and this will help your reach anyone who fell between the cracks.  This is especially important for new members in the church or for reaching out into the community where official contact information may not be available.  Word of mouth is a great way to gain traction and spread information about your event.

Get your guests to the event.

Provide excellent content.

Let them linger.

10 Quick Questions

Survey SaysWMC Friends,

It’s that time again, for a quick survey of just 10 questions to get to know our readers better.

As we get a better grasp of how your ministry functions, we can create content that fits within that function.

It is anonymous.  Please share with other ministry leaders in your circle.

 

CLICK HERE TO TAKE SURVEY!

If you would like to send us any additional PRIVATE comments about how we can better serve your ministry,  please use the form below.   These comments will NOT be published or visible on our website.  If you would like to include your name, email should we have any questions related to your comments that is an option but is not required in order to send your comment/suggestion/question.

Welcome the Linger

THE ART OF LINGERING

Earlier this week, in the piece “An Amazing Event”, we explored how a local church hosted an event for women by pointing out areas of excellence.   The sixth point was that this church welcomed the linger.  This point resulted in a few questions that will be unpacked in this follow up piece.

At the end of the women’s event “Amazing”, the women in attendance were directed outside to the after party.  This consisted of lunch, places to sit and have conversations, a small market to shop, activities, etc.  I have no idea if there was an official cut off time, as I left after about an hour.  However it didn’t appear they were in a rush to send their guests on their merry way.  Speaking with one of their leaders, I learned that this is a very intentional decision, because they find that when they allow people to gather after their events better and deeper connections are made.

In theory, this sounds wonderful.  But, you may be asking about how it is logistically possible for smaller churches.  I believe it is fair to say that most of us are hosting events at our church, whether it be a simple brunch or a more expansive women’s conference.  I believe it is also fair to say that most churches don’t have a separate conference center or banquet hall on the property, but instead use a shared space.  With services on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, our events are most commonly held on a Friday evening or Saturday morning.  Once the event concludes those shared spaces must be reset for services.

How do we let our guests linger when we have to prepare our space for the church services that same day or the next morning?

Extra Volunteers – many hands make light work.  If you have more volunteers on hand, specifically after the event, it will take less time to reset the church.  

Move the Party – consider other spaces.  If you held an event in the sanctuary, once the event is over move to a new location.  This frees up the sanctuary to be reset by volunteers, while your guests can linger and talk in the lobby, parking lot, etc.  You can use the overflow room, lobby, or even outside spaces.  Keep in mind that if you choose to move the party off the church property, you may lose guests.  More people are apt to stay and linger, but once they get in their car it can be more tempting to just head home.

Designate the Space – if moving your guests into a new space to linger, define that space.  Clear signage indicating where the conversation space is located and volunteers to direct your guests from one space to the other is helpful.  Your church parking lot can be a great space, so long as you consider the weather, set up seating/tents, etc. 

Provide Food – if you feed them, they will stay.  This does not mean that you need to over extend your budget by providing free food.  Some churches can afford this, some will include it in ticket prices, others simply invite vendors and let their guests pay.  Just make sure if you are going to expect guests to pay for their own lunch that this is included in the promotional materials.  Food can be a meal or even just light snacks.

Create Conversation – give them something to talk about and engage with.  Set a space or few that are great photo ops.  You can create these spaces with things you can find around your home.  While waiting in line to take a photo, women will start talking.  As they walk the space, the décor itself is a conversation starter.  Food will ignite conversation, as your guests discuss their options or the quality of the food.  People love to talk about good food.

Fun Activities – so long as there is something to do, your guests will linger and connect.  Whether it’s a mini-market place they can stroll around and shop, photo ops, or games and activities, having something to do will encourage women to stay and engage.

Something else to consider…

As a woman who has attended many local events over the last 20 years, let me share what usually happens when I return home.  I’m walking in the door, feeling encouraged, inspired, motivated… I don’t want that feeling to pass.  Then I hear these words…

“Mom?  What’s for lunch?”

Within minutes of returning home, mom is back on duty.

If you are scheduling an after party similar to the event I attended this past weekend, that will include food… activities… etc.

Why not invite the family to meet them women afterwards?  Turn the after party into a family event.  A few food trucks or food vendors, activities for the kids to engage in, conversation areas for the women… but also opportunities for the men to connect too.  It adds to the community.

 

The Fellowship of Breaking Bread

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There is just something about sharing a good meal with another person.  I think, in part, it is because in this moment we are using all of our symptoms.  We are listening to good conversation, smelling savory aromas, tasting a scrumptious bite, looking at beautiful plated foods and into the eyes of a friend or loved one. Even our sense of touch is engaged regularly… as we embrace as we meet up, feel the texture of the napkin we set in our lap, engage with the various food items, etc.  I believe that when we are in moments where all of our senses are engaged simultaneously, and for a long period of time, it helps embed the moment into our memory.

In the Scriptures we see so many moments where people were breaking bread together as a community.   Two specific moments to consider is the feeding of the multitudes (Matthew 14) and when Jesus washed the disciples feet (John 13).

When We Feed the Many

In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus had just found out about the death of John the Baptist and had withdrawn to a quiet place.  But, the crowds followed.  Even though he was mourning, he had compassion on the crowd.  When evening was approaching the disciples suggested that Jesus send the crowds away to the towns so that they may eat.  Jesus instead insisted they stay and that they would feed the crowd.  The disciples indicated they didn’t have nearly enough for the thousands of people who had gathered.  Jesus taking the humble amount of fish and loaves, raised them toward Heaven, giving thanks for the food, and instructed the disciples to distribute it among the people.  There was so much that even after everyone ate and was satisfied, twelve baskets of left over pieces were collected.

As a Ministry we often will host small brunches and large events.  Most often brunches are potluck where everyone brings a dish with them to share.  But, with large events… we often do not consider the meal (unless it’s a weekend long retreat).  I’ve been to conferences where meals were included, and to ones where we were dismissed to local restaurants.  While I can understand the logistics of sending people off premises, I think we forget a few key things that make offering an onsite meal a blessing that outweighs any inconvenience.

  1.  Single Guests – when a bunch of gal pals head off to an event together, they often don’t mind slipping away to a local café and having some girl time.  However, this can be an uncomfortable and lonely time for someone who is flying solo.  When there are tables set up and lunch provided on site, it is much easier for the single guests to mingle with others over a good meal.  This is a very compassionate stance to take as we care for the guests that God has brought to our events.
  2. Budget Friendly – larger events will generally have a cost associated, regardless of the size or wealth of the congregation.  If this is an event that is requiring travel, lodging, etc. then the budget for your attendee is affected.  First, purchasing in bulk is generally less per serving.  I’ve hosted events where lunch was just $5 per person due to the catering discount of a bulk purchase.  Had those guests gone off site, their meal with tip would have been at least $10 and up to $15 per person.  
  3. Warm & Welcoming – nothing says to people that they are welcomed into a space than allowing them to linger and connect with people.  The cliché saying “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” shouldn’t be part of our ministry playbook.  Just because an event ends before meal time, doesn’t mean you can’t provide a meal option.  A recent event I attended ended just before lunch.  Instead of ushering everyone home, they had an “after party” that included a free lunch and beverages and a fun market place we could walk through made up of local businesses.  There were plenty of places to sit and mingle.  

The example Christ sets for us in how we engage “the many” is exactly what we should be employing.  Jesus said “don’t send them away”.  If our event is at our church or under the banner of our church, do we really want people to feel unwanted or unwelcomed?  If we have the space to host events in our own buildings, do we really want to close those doors and send our guests elsewhere?  What if instead we invited them to sit down, rest, and break bread with us?

When We Feed the Few

In John 13:1-17, Jesus has gathered with the disciples for dinner.  He knew that the hour of his return to the Father was approaching.  It says that the evening meal was already in progress, when Jesus began washing the feet of the disciples.  It was here, that Jesus would instruct the disciples to do for others what Christ had done for them… in his absence. 

This meal, unlike a large event, is far more intimate.  There are times, the Lord calls us to serve many at one time… and then there are times He calls us to gather our closest to us and to serve them directly and humbly.  Who are our few?  What if we have multiple groups that are close in different ways?

  1. The Leadership Team – the people whom you are serving with on a team are connected by how/who we serve.  Getting together occasionally outside of serving others, to draw closer as a group will bless your ministry as a whole.
  2. Your Study Group – whether you make the meal part of your small group, or choose to spend an evening breaking away from the normal study and instead fellowshipping as a group, you are creating new connections.  This could also be a great option for a small group that is for couples.  What if the wife of the leader met with the women in the group for a meal, just the ladies?  What if the men did the same?  What deeper connections can be made as you break bread with one another.
  3. Your Mentors – there are those who are pouring into you, consider making a point to not only thank and honor them for investing in you but also connecting them to each other.  
  4. Those You Send – perhaps you have had the opportunity to be a Paul to a few Timothys that you are preparing to release out into the world, gather and serve them one last time to set the tone for the leadership you hope they will share with those the Lord puts under their charge.
  5. The New Girls – what a great way to welcome women into the church by making a point as a Women’s Ministry leader to get together with new members of the church.  Talk with your Pastors or Finance Committee about creating budget and space for a smaller monthly luncheon for new ladies.  Take them on a tour of the church, answer their questions, get to know them better, and most of all make them feel welcomed and valued.

Breaking bread with others is about creating a moment that stands in memory, fosters community, and serves others well.