Characteristics of Godly Leaders: Self Control & Temperance

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As we continue to look at I Timothy 3:2 we see that a church leader must be someone who exercises self-control or demonstrate temperance.

This hits hard to some of us. I, for one, struggle with my weight. I’m going to be vulnerable here and just admit it. Food just really tastes good. And it’s fun to eat delicious food. It’s also such a social thing to do in our society. And not only that, but for some of us, food is an escape from reality as much as alcohol or drugs.

Some may say, “Well, those things are different!” I will agree that in some ways they are. We have to eat food to live, but we don’t have to have drugs or alcohol to live. In fact these things could kill us. But if we are truly honest, food can kill us too. Certain foods have been proven to be unhealthy. And overeating to the point of being overweight causes health issues, which can eventually cause death.

Ouch! Gracious! This article started out straight up and to the point.

But lest I appear to just be picking on those of us with weight issues, let me mention a few other areas I believe we need to demonstrate self control and temperance.

What about how much TV we watch? Or actually WHAT we watch on TV? There’s much too much junk on there.

What about those books we are constantly reading? Are we reading God’s Word too? What about all the time we spend on the internet?

What about our talk? What about that gossip? What about those harsh words that come out of our mouths to our spouse and children?

What about the way our homes look? Are we so busy doing other things that we don’t take care of the things with which God has blessed us? Are we so busy doing “godly work” that our families are suffering?

We as leaders in our churches must pray and maintain balance in our lives so that we are being good examples, demonstrating the qualities listed here in this scripture. Even though we are human like everyone else, we as leaders are looked up to and the world is following our lead. That is a sobering thought.

Is your life measuring up? Are you living as a good example of self control?

God help us to be diligent in rising above our human desires and let the Holy Spirit maintain control of our lives in every area so that we are truly leading the world into a relationship with Christ. And in doing this, we will be happier women. How so? Because following God’s way is always best.

Self control is not just something that is found as a qualification of a godly leader, but also listed as a Fruit of the Spirit.  We are all called to be self controlled, and leaders are expected to set the bar.  

Trailblazing {Devotion by Jenny Andrews}

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I became the director of a mentoring ministry in my local church at the age of 28. To say that I was scared would be an understatement. I don’t know how many times I questioned God and His calling in my life at that moment. I thought to myself, often, surely this is a mistake.  Who am I to lead in this area?  But, the Lord knew just what to do with me. He gave me the strength and courage to persevere through the unknown many times.

I didn’t grow up in the church or how to start a ministry. I started to read books and educate myself on ministry; meanwhile I was in college going to school for a degree in accounting. It then hit me one day that I could use the tools I was learning in my business school to apply them to my new ministry. I became organized and started to see the tools the Lord was giving me in the business world as blessing for His kingdom. After 6 years in the ministry I had everything down pat. The ministry grew, and I am now teaching others how to start their own ministry in mentoring. What I also came to understand was that I was a trailblazer in this type of ministry for my church.

The word trailblazer is defined as:

1.a person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness; pathfinder.

2.a pioneer in any field of endeavor:

Isn’t that what leadership is? We are all leading in new areas of our life whether in ministry, at home, in the work place, or other areas. We are all trailblazing in leadership. I think it is amazing that there are no two people alike in this world and that the Lord has a specific call on our individual lives.

Most recently I was speaking at a Native American Women’s Conference and I met a woman who said to me, “Jenny you are pioneer for your people the Lakota.” Her statement impacted me in a positive way and made me reflect on all the Lord was doing in my life at that moment. He used her to remind me that He is the leader of my trailblaze and that He will be the one to set the path before me. I now trailblazing in a new area with a new season of calling in life, but I am embracing it thanks to that one sentence said to me.

We all get to be trailblazers. I know it comes with unchartered territory, but can I remind you that the Lord has already equipped you. I leave you with this passage in the Bible because it assures me that although this may be new area of leadership to you or me it isn’t to the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The Call to Leadership – Devotion

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The Call to Leadership

By Jenny Andrews

I sat in a bible study as I heard a woman ask a question that was foundational to our Christian faith.  She had been a believer for over 10 years and I thought to myself, why doesn’t she know that answer? I was a newer believer and knew the answer to her question. In that moment my heart was burdened because it seemed to me that no one had really taken the time to teach her.  This scene played over in my mind as I went home that night to pray and ask God what could I do.

It was that day I felt weeping in my heart for women to know who Jesus is and for women to see who they are in Christ. That day challenged me.  I recalled a bible study that I had went through, at my last church with an older woman, so I pulled it out and thought to myself: this is it! I want to do this bible study with her so she will know how much Jesus wants her to know him.

I spent several weeks in prayer and then went before Pastor of Ministries to share my heart and burden for this woman. I asked him if I could do the bible study with her, and he took the study to review. A short while later I was invited into a women’s ministry team meeting and was asked to lead a discipleship ministry. God had heard my prayers (and I was not quite ready for that) but I found favor with the pastor. I took the material and begin to use the study to influence other women in my church, and I asked other women to help me in the process of building up women too.

That was over 6 years ago, and during that time I had many challenges and obstacles. Yet, through it all the Lord helped me each step of the way.  He got me through the darkest times in my life.  During that same time frame of building this ministry I lost both of my parents to illnesses, and those days seemed the hardest, but God is getting me through that as well.

I am reminded of a great leader in the Bible his name is Nehemiah. Nehemiah had a burden for God’s people and the Lord used him greatly. He wept for his people and prayed for the God of Israel to help them. (Neh 1:3-4) Nehemiah didn’t just pray though, he went into action. (Neh 2:11) He then went before the king and asked for help, and he found favor with the king (Neh 2:4-6). He was a man of influence before his people and called them to help with the building of the wall (Neh 2:18). He not only leads the people he encouraged them in the work they did even when other opposed them (Neh 2:20).

As leaders, we must remember the call to leadership and why we do what we do. We do it, because we know that is what we are called to do. We will have opposition along the way, but remember the favor we have in Christ. We don’t give up, but we persevere through trials and tests; because we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. When all is said and done, we will one day hear our Savior say,

Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!'” (Matt 25:23)

Budgeting Event Recap #2 of 3

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Wouldn’t it be lovely if we received an email tomorrow morning from the finance committee that the church was granting our ministries and unlimited budget?  Oh the things we could do, the Kingdom work we could accomplish!  However, that is highly unlikely to happen.  Funds are limited, there are many ministries that need financial support, and plenty of people in need.

What do you do when your budget is zero (or not enough)?

You have a couple of options.

  1. Request a budget.  You can request a flat budget amount from the church, to work within.  Or, you can type up a formal budget request which details your ministry plans and the costs to accomplish those plans.
  2. Request a budget increase.  If you already have a budget to work with, but you need an increase, you must request additional funds by identifying your needs for these additional funds (amount, purpose, etc).
  3. Fundraise the gap.  If you have zero budget from the church, or need an increase, and the Finance Committee doesn’t approve your request you can fundraise the needed funds (or the difference) in order to ensure your ministry plans move forward.

Ministry budgets are one of the reasons why I am personally a fan of having a ministry vision and plan.  You need to know what your ministry is doing, and what the costs will be, in order to request funds from the church.

Start with What You Have

A zero dollar budget may not seem like much to start out with, but you would be surprised by the assets you have in the church.  If you can use the space, tables, chairs… that is a start.  Can your borrow seasonal décor to decorate the tables with?  Can you utilize a woman in the church to share her testimony versus paying a speaker?  Do you really need a sweet little gift to send home with each woman.  Are there women in the church who don’t mind using their gifts to sew table runners for you or craft centerpieces?  What do your women have sitting in their garages and hall closets that could be donated to the ministry?  If you don’t have a plan, you don’t know what you need, and if you don’t know what you need… you will never know what you actually have.

Practical Tip:  Come up with a list of things you need or want for the ministry and post it onto your facebook page (personal, church, or ministry) and see what people have lying around.

Track Measurable Growth

Finance Committees or the Pastors who oversee the budget are charged with being good stewards with the church funds.  Therefore they want to see that the ministry is a value to the church and community and worthy of support.  This means that not only do they need to know what you are spending money on, and how much, but also the why.  Why are you having this event, what is the outcome.  They also want to know the who.  Who is growing from these events.  Are we seeing numerical growth as women transition from guests at events to Sunday morning attendees, and plugging into small groups?  Are we seeing spiritual growth, as the women in the church are being baptized or becoming small group/ministry leaders?

Practical Tip:  At the services following brunches or fellowship events, make sure to have a booth set up for your ministry.  Instruct guests at the event to stop by the booth that weekend if they come to services.  You’ll have a free gift for them.  Whether the gift is a .25 cent scripture bracelet or a $2 devotional booklet, you now have trackable inventory.  You can report to whomever oversees your ministry the number of guests who ended up at services too.  Instruct your small group leaders to inquire our new members found out about their group.

Zero Budget Does Not Equal Zero Money

There may not be enough money in the church budget to create a line on the annual budget for your ministry.  But that doesn’t mean there are no funds available to be used by your ministry.  If you are planning an outreach event, your church may already have a budget for outreach programs you can draw from.  Ask.  If you are hosting an event (like a retreat) and you will be taking payments, but need a down payment… ask.  The church may have available funds to provide the deposit so long as you reimburse the budget once the tickets are sold.  If you already have an approved budget and an unexpected opportunity presents itself, ask.  There may be funds that can be shifted from another area in the budget, or you may be able to receive a special one time increase.

Practical Tip:  If you need a budget to start with, or just additional funds, don’t forget to ask about fundraising.  Can you fundraise?  What restrictions or boundaries are on those fundraisers?  

Thursday, we’ll finish up this recap on our Budgets and Fundraising event with some practical tips on how you can stretch your ministry budget.

Fishers of [Wo]men

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This weekend, I attended a workshop on the topic of branding.  As the leader of a ministry, and knowing the direction we are taking in the coming years it is important that I am learning about all aspects of ministry building.  The speaker, Faith James, said something that caught my attention.  She was giving an illustration related to fishing, and pointing out that to have a successful fishing trip you must know “what you are fishing for”. 

Do you know who your ministry is fishing for?

As a ministry leader, you may be tempted to give the most obvious answers…

Everyone.  Women.  The Lost.  The Unchurched.

I am going to challenge you to take that a bit deeper.

As Faith James continued her illustration she said, “You can’t boil the ocean”.  Her point rested in that we have to have a more focused vision of who we are trying to reach because everyone is a concept that is as big as the ocean.  This doesn’t mean that there is not an ocean of people who need help, but rather it is going to be impossible for us to help everyone with our resources and time.  We need to have focus.

Putting this in terms of Women’s Ministry, let’s explore the following questions.

If every Women’s Ministry started a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, that meets during the week… who is serving our single mothers, or teen mothers?

If every Women’s Ministry was focused on serving homeless women and children… who is serving our women who have suffered the loss of miscarriage?

If every Women’s Ministry chose to stand with their local Crisis Pregnancy Center… who is supporting the women who chose life, or supporting the local foster/adoption agency to care for these children who were given this chance to thrive?

If your Women’s Ministry is spread thin trying to serve too many different organizations at once, are you really making an significant impact vs. making the choice to choose one and serve it at full capacity?

What if instead of each Women’s Ministry focusing on a broad scope of issues, we each chose one that we were going to give our full attention to?  We come together as leaders and identify the needs of the community of women we serve (in and outside of the church walls), then each Women’s Ministry leader picks one that will become their ministry focus?

Imagine a wheel with spokes.  The center of the wheel is the Cross, that is where we are trying to bring women… to Jesus.  The outer ring of the wheel is all of the women in our community.  The spokes are the individual Women’s Ministries.

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Quite simply, there are just too many needs in our communities (and within our church walls) for one ministry tackle it all.  However, if we work together and decide which needs each of our ministries will focus on… then we are working together to meet all the needs more effectively.

How do we do this?

  1. Collectively identify the needs in the community we serve.
  2. Check with other WM Leaders to determine which needs are already being served, need more help, or have not been addressed by the local church.
  3. Meet with your Pastor to determine if the church already has a focused need, that you can bring the WM under to address the women of that “need group”.
  4. If there isn’t a specific “need group” that your church is currently focused on, meet with your WM Team.  Pray that the Lord would help your team identify which need will become the WM focus.
  5. Connect to local ministries and organizations serving these need groups to determine how you can come along side their work.  Research online if there are national organizations already working in this area that you can partner with and introduce to your area.  Or, research online the ways you can begin to serve this need through your ministry directly.

 

 

Women’s & Men’s Ministries – Statistics

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In the past, I’ve spoken to the topic of successful Women’s Ministries are usually in churches that also have active/successful Men’s Ministries.  Over the last few weeks, several articles have crossed my desk about women leaving the church and what the impact of that exodus will have on the church.  I decided to do a little bit of research on the topic.

What we know, and research supports, is that post industrial revolution there was a shift in the home and thus in the church.  As the men went to work outside of the home, women began to take on a larger role in the spiritual development of their children.  They also began to take on a more prominent role in the church as leaders and volunteers.

What we know, currently is:

 

  • The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.  (Some churches the % of female members can reach up to 70%)
  • On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches.
  • This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands. (Even if their husbands profess to be Christian)
  • Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.

There are more women attending, and participating in the active life of the church.  This is why you may see that Women’s Bible Studies outnumber their male counterparts. Or, why Women’s Ministry is still a vital ministry in the church… but Men’s Ministries are waning.

Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish

or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.

 

As I try to discover the roadblocks and obstacles for Women’s Ministry, one of the first questions I have asked is in regards to the presence of a Men’s Ministry.  Until I began this research, I didn’t realize that Men’s Ministries had declined to such numbers.

But why?  We have less Men’s Ministries because we have less active men participating in the church.

 

  • Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.
  • More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.

 

We have a realization now that in order to get the family to attend church on Sundays, we need to reach the women.  When the women come, they bring their husbands and families.  I’ve heard from several Pastors that they notice when the wives are not at church due to retreat, business, etc. that the men do not come and bring the children.  They take the weekend off too.  However a healthy church needs the men to attend… married or single, with the family or not.

When I was in MOPS Leadership, one of the most common complaints that I heard from these young mothers was a deep desire for their husband to return to the role of Spiritual Leader of their home.  They didn’t want this burden on their shoulders, and the Bible tells us this was never their burden to bear in the first place. 

A study from Hartford Seminary found “that the presence of involved men was statistically correlated with church growth, health, and harmony. Meanwhile, a lack of male participation is strongly associated with congregational decline.”

We must, as a church, begin to really understand WHY men have been on the decline in attendance and participation.  We must, as a Women’s Ministry, become advocates for Men’s Ministry in our church.  I have seen the effects of a waning Women’s Ministry on the church.  When a Women’s Ministry slows or stops functioning, we see the impact on the church as a whole.  Women’s small groups decline.  Women’s attendance and volunteerism in the church declines.  Women will begin going to parachurch events or events at churches which do have active Women’s Ministries.  This will often result in the matriarchs of the church moving to churches which do have active Women’s Ministries.

I would suggest the same could be said for Men’s Ministries.  As men’s ministries declined, the community connection or family connection of church went with it.  The men feeling less connected to their church and more connected to the people they spend 40+ hours a week with in their workplace, or people they have connected with over hobbies have taken precedence.   With their free hours, they would rather be actively doing something than seated in the pews.

New statistics are showing that one of the major reasons people are leaving the church is due to their desire to not be passive participants in church but active members.  Church has become a spectator sport for the majority as churches seek volunteers to fill the holes they need vs. allowing people in the body to use their gifts and talents as God has called them to.  They want discipleship, mentoring, and spiritual growth more than entertainment.

What can we do about it?

  1. We should engage the women who are already attending.  We are starting to see the exodus of women, and we need to stop that in it’s tracks.  Create and support Women’s Ministries that are discipleship focused, out reaching into the community with the purpose of bringing women to Christ.  Encourage the women to attend regularly and support their husbands attendance and participation.
  2. We need to encourage the creation and development of a Men’s Ministry.  This may begin with a conversation with our own husbands.  Just because they start the ministry doesn’t mean they have to stay in the leadership.  I’ve seen women take over or begin a ministry with the goal of finding and developing the eventual leader… Pauls finding their Timothys.  If your husband is willing to help get if off the ground, you can offer up your ministry skills & experience to help him.  This is not only an investment into the Men’s Ministry but the Women’s Ministry… and the church.
  3. Think ahead and work directly with your Pastors on the occasions that your women will be absent from church.  If you are taking your women to a weekend long Women’s Retreat or Conference, have a plan in place with your Pastor and Children’s Pastor about ensuring that weekend has something special for the men and children.  A post church barbeque, special kids program, special speaker for the men, etc. are all ways to entice the men to attend in the women’s absence.
  4. Begin a movement of spiritual gifts testing in your church, where you are actively helping people to identify what their spiritual gift is and figure out where they can be plugged in to the church.  The statistics suggest that men need a reason to attend church, so let’s give them one.  The same for our women who may have one foot out the door, lets find a place to help them connect to the church in tangible ways.

If the Women’s Ministry is supposed to be a ministry that supports the vision of the church, then that means the whole church.  While our focus may be on taking the vision to the women in our church, our leaders need to connect back into the church by supporting the other ministries and our Pastors.

Aimee Nelson once told me that “where the women go, so goes society”.  So, where do we want our men and children to go?  Let’s set the bar and encourage them to rise to it.  Let our Women’s Ministries be known to love women well, and the men too.

  • Our married women want their husbands to attend services.
  • Our children want their fathers to attend services.
  • Our single ladies want the single men in our community to be active members.
  • Our widowers need other men in the church that they can have community with.
  • Our older men need younger men in the church that they can mentor.

* All statistics are from http://churchformen.com/men-and-church/where-are-the-men/

The Starting Point

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It can be hard to come to terms with a subject that is just completely outside of your scope of understanding.  To have someone think less of you for nothing more than the color of your skin, or your country of origin.  To be treated as less than, to have lower expectations on your ability, or marginalized by how you look before someone even takes the time to get to know you.

Something else that is also hard is a willingness to call out sin for what it is, especially when it a sin you don’t want to admit is still present.  Even more so when that sin is being committed by yourself or others you know, particularly when you know that they are a good person.  From tasteless jokes to out right discrimination, we must come to terms with the fact that racism still exists in our country.  Yes, there are areas in the country that are more progressive than others.  There are people who have fought for civil rights in the past, and those who are still doing so today, because they believe in equality for all people.

Yet, there are still places where racism exists in very blatant ways.  Many more where racism is far more subtle.  If we call racism what it is, SIN… then we know exactly what we are supposed to do with that sin.  Which is tackle it head on.  It can be far easier to justify someone’s sin, by pointing out a persons checkered past or giving a good person a pass for an inappropriate joke.  Jesus never gave sin a pass.  Nor should we.

As our eyes become more open to the wounds that have not healed, we feel conviction over our thoughts and words.  We make the effort to change ourselves, to influence those around us.  For others, and for any number of reasons, their eyes are still covered by scales.  They can not see the sin, and as leaders we have a responsibility to not allow sin to go unchecked.

What are some practical ways you can be apart of change in your life, Women’s Ministry, Church, and community?  To confront sin, we must identify it and then actively work against it.

  1.  Take the time to understand the feelings of others by choosing to be quiet and listen.  Ask people who come from other cultures and ethnicities to share their experiences with you, and do not interject your opinions.  Allow them to speak, listen to what is being said, and take time to reflect on that conversation before you respond with more questions.
  2. Read.  There are plenty of books on the subject of racism and also on racial reconciliation.  You can watch interviews online, panel discussions, and more.  Google “Race and the Church” or “Racial Reconciliation and the Church” and you’ll find a trove of useful information.  I recommend “UNITED” by Trillia Newbell.
  3. Challenge your Women’s Ministry team (or church leaders) to go through “The Bridge to Racial Unity” Bible Study as a team.   You can access this through the ministry Be The BridgeEnter this study with humbleness, willingness to listen, and as the leader of the ministry set the tone of respect.  If you do not have any women of color serving on your ministry team, considering inviting a few willing women to go through this study with your team.  Women who are willing to field your questions with grace and mercy.
  4. PRAY for your own life to become open to diversity, that the Lord will bring the women to add to your Women’s Ministry team, and convict the heart of your church leaders to create a space that is welcoming to all of God’s people (even when it means getting out of our comfort zones in how we worship) including bringing people of color onto staff positions.