Hospitality Starts with a Warm Welcome


When we think of the word “hospitality” we think of the way in which we serve people.  There is an entire industry related to hospitality, from hotels and event planners to meals, transportation, and entertainment.  It is a service we provide to others that allows them to enjoy the space.

So where does hospitality begin on in our ministries?  It happens long before the events and studies that make up our ministry calendar.

It begins with a warm welcome.

Women who are visiting your church for the first time, either for a Sunday Service or Women’s Ministry event, need to feel welcome in the space from the moment they arrive.  What can we do as ministry leaders to ensure our guests feel welcome?

An Easy to Navigate Space:  Your visitor needs easy access to parking, clear signage on where to enter the building for the service/event, and signs or people to guide them once in side.  Several years ago, I attended an event at a local church.  This church had multiple buildings and parking lots.  There was not a single sign that indicated which parking lot entrance to use, or which building the event was being held in.  During the lunch break, there was an announcement on where the lunch was being served without any direction at all.  There was almost an assumption that everyone at the event either attended the church or was a guest of someone attending, and could find their own way.  They forgot that this event was also publicized on the radio and on the website for the larger ministry hosting events nationwide.  

Never assume your church or even location is easy to navigate, just because it makes sense to you.  Always assume that your guests will need signs or people to help them find their way to the main spaces, bathrooms, event spaces, child care, etc.

Easy Access to Information:  Some guests are very eager to meet people, and not afraid to ask a million questions.  Your more introverted guests will be more timid.  By ensuring that the basic information on the women’s ministry is listed in the New Guest packet, you are extending an invitation to women to find out more.  If you have an information desk or wall, where ministries can post more detailed information, having a sign or invitation cards for your next event will make sure guests know they are welcome to your events.  This also includes having information about your women’s ministry on your church website.

At minimum, guests should be able to have access to the contact information for the women’s ministry, current Bible Studies or Small Groups, and information on your upcoming event(s).  Also consider having  an occasionally informal breakfast to get to know new women in the church.  This doesn’t need to be a potluck brunch, but could be at a local restaurant where everyone pays for their own meal.  

When we make sure to let women know they are welcome at our next event, they know that we are not a closed clique of women but rather a group with arms opened wide.

Help Her Meet People:   Guests, particularly returning guests, will want to get to know more women in the church.  Too often, it’s easy to fall back on the “stand up and introduce yourself to the group” activity.  However this can be overwhelming for the introvert, and frankly even with the best of effort… it’s hard to remember all these new names and facts.  Instead, use the women’s ministry team to divide and conquer introducing new women ot the rest of the body.  If each women’s ministry team member takes time to get to know these new guests individually, they can then make very intentional introductions to members in the body who share similar interests, have children of the same ages, etc.

This far more intentional introductions will actually help foster relationships and is a warmer welcome than throwing the woman into the spotlight before a large group.   

Hospitality Never Ends:  Being hospital as guests walk through your doors for the first time is just the beginning.  Hospitality is something that continues on as part of our ministry work.  We are hospitable when we open our homes to small groups and playdates, when we answer calls and take time to get to know people better, and into our events as we make sure that everyone feels wanted and welcome.  When hospitality drops off, it can make our guests feel as if our initial welcoming was superficial or short lived.  Hospitality is a long term culture that needs to be cultivated and fostered.

Look for your women who have the gift of Hospitality, and bring them into your women’s ministry team to lay the foundation.  If you are a large church, you may wish to create a welcoming committee.  Otherwise, these women will be valuable additions to your team as they advise you about how to make sure your women’s ministry program and events are warm and welcoming to all who walk through the doors.

Rest & Retreat: A reflection & call to rest.

Rest & Retreat(1)

I stepped down from a ministry I had started and led in my church for over 6 years.  It was a privilege to lead in that capacity. However,  I realized that the ministry consumed much of my life.   When I stopped leading I didn’t anticipate how big of a gap I would find in my life now that I wasn’t making phone calls, networking, leading,  planning, and mentoring; all while being a wife, mother, and part time employee.  I hadn’t realized how much work it took to run this ministry. I just did it because it needed to be done.

This made me think about other things.  In the 6 years of leading this ministry I lost both of my parents, graduated from college, and started a speaking ministry.

I had chosen to step down from this ministry in order to pursue another calling, but I felt like the Lord wasn’t calling me into another ministry right away; but back to my first and most important ministry,  my husband, children and family.  I also felt He has been calling me into a time of healing from grief.  Grief is tough.  It has been 6 years since my father passed, 3 years since mom passed, and only 3 weeks since my step-father has passed.  In this time, I have asked God to give me rest and help me deal with the stuff that needs healing; grief being one of them.

I have been busy getting to know my husband again, and my children.  My oldest is a freshmen in high school who plays sports and has a more active social life than I do. I now ask myself how did I ever have time to lead a ministry because I seem to have no life right now. But, I am thankful because it is an amazing journey.

I am learning that as a leader you must take time away to rest.  A good leader knows that rest is important.  While I would like to say I am great at this,  I don’t always take the needed time.  I am learning to see that when God closes one door, He maybe telling me to rest for a moment because resting is good for me until He  is ready to open the next door.

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I am still doing mission work, speaking, and mentoring but not so much that I forget to rest and heal.  I am also praying through this next season of life that I am feeling called to.

I am thankful that the Lord stresses the importance to take time to rest in Him. In all of this healing and resting the Lord has and always will be faithful.  He is my complete rest.  The verse I leave you with is this:

Psalm 37:7a
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…

Characteristics of Godly Leaders: Not a Lover of Money

The LoveofMoney

There are so many reasons why Paul would write to Timothy that those in the office of overseer should not be a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:3).

Some immediate thoughts that come to mind:

  • If you value money too much, you may put your day job or your desire for success above your ministry responsibilities.  
  • You may be tempted to use your position for financial gain.
  • Often the love of money accompanies pride.

In fact, later in 1 Timothy, chapter 6, Paul goes on to say:  “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (v10).  Warning that those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, ensnared by foolish and harmful desires, plunge into ruin and destruction.  He even says that the desire for money, the craving of it, has caused some to walk away from their faith.

However, I think there is another aspect of money we should consider, in regard to ministry.  Let’s face it, the majority of those who are serving in a ministry capacity are not doing so without some financial struggle in their own life.  This struggle also happens in the ministry field.  Who hasn’t dreamt of what a little extra money could mean to the ministry work that we do.  What if we had an extra $500 or more in the budget.  Oh the things we could do!

Therein lies the culprit… “with money” this is what “I” can do.   While it is true that money is a means to get things done, such as purchasing supplies or bringing in guest speakers; money is also a tool of man.  God doesn’t require money to do anything.   We can throw a lot of money at our ministry, polishing the rough edges, making it attractive to others, filling the seats at our tables to the brim.  But this is not the measure of success.

Spiritual growth is a measure of success.  Bringing women to Christ is a measure of success.  We create a ministry that serves in His name, we bring women to the Cross, and then watch as the Lord does a work in their life.  He creates something new, He molds and shapes, and none of that costs a single dollar.

A shoe string budget it not a bad thing, it actually requires us to lean on God and trust in His provision for our ministry.  It teaches us to be good stewards with the blessing we are given.  It also challenges us to be creative with the gifts, talents, and blessings the Lord has given each of us to be used in the ministry as we serve others.

How much does it cost to welcome others into your home?

Do we need a huge budget to pray with another women?

What is the expense to sit and walk through the scriptures with a new believer?

When we begin to believe that money will solve all of our ministry problems, open up more opportunities, or even that money will give us a better pathway to bring people to Christ… we begin to blur the lines and our love for money grows because we become dependent on it.

This doesn’t mean that God won’t bless us financially, as a ministry.  It’s a warning to not become dependent on it, to not allow it to become something that we crave.  We may receive it, but remember we are being given something that is already God’s and called to use it in a way that honors Him.

A godly leader will recognize who the blessing is from, and what it is for.  They will not compromise their faith, their family, their home, their values, their time, and their service in order to gain more money.


Godly Characteristics: Gentle Not Violent


In 1 Timothy 3:2, it says that someone who is leadership should “not be violent but gentle”.  Gentleness is listed as one of the “Fruits of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23.  However, here in 1 Timothy 3:2 we are not merely instructed to be “gentle” but even more specifically “not violent”.  

If you research “violence” in the scriptures, there are some strong words against violence:

Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways ~ Proverbs 3:31

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.  ~ Psalm 11:5

In fact, if you go back to Galatians 5 and read the few lines before “Fruits of the Spirit” you will read about what is called “Works of the Flesh”.  

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21

Note that several of the items listed in 1 Timothy 3:2 are called “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5.  It is when we are not walking in God’s way, but in our own sinful humanness.  The violence in these scriptures is not what you see in war, when God has called warriors up as defenders of His people.  This is fleshy violence.  Vengeance, anger, hatred, malice.

I believe it is clear that the Lord calls his leaders to set a standard in how the treat one another, including our spouses and children.  In 1 Timothy 3, the leader is called to be a manager of his home, but not in a violent way… but respectful.  (1 Timothy 3:4 – He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect).  In clearer terms, the leader is not to be abusive… physically, mentally, emotionally.

Whether the leader is a man, or a woman.

Characteristics of Godly Leaders- Drunkeness

EatDrink& Be Merry_

Something that I have learned over the years is that when it comes to policies regarding drinking alcohol different denominations, regions, Pastors, and even congregants have strong & differing opinions on the subject.  There are some who believe there should be total abstention, others who believe the opposite, and then there the many opinions that fall between.  Occasionally.  Regularly, in moderation.  Certain types are ok, others are not.  It’s a pretty wide cavern to cross.

Today, instead of getting into the debate of if and when, let’s talk about why this matters.

Why Does Avoiding Drunkenness Matter?

Something worth noting is that drunkenness can directly affect all of the characteristics of godly leadership we’ve already covered, and the ones still to come.   If you are drunk, how can you be above reproach… if you can’t remember the events of the evening?  How many times have we heard of an affair or one night stand blamed on a night of heavy drinking?  What about losing our temper or losing self control due to being drunk?  How can we teach a good example or a lesson when were are intoxicated?  Domestic abuse has plenty of connection to being drunk, argumentativeness too.  Money has been wasted on a night out drinking, or keeping the cabinet stocked full.  A drunk is not respected by others, including their spouse and children.  A drunk will often have a bad reputation and may fall into disgrace often, blaming alcohol for their poor judgement.

In other words, if you are intoxicated to the point of drunkenness… how can you meet these standards of leadership?  Whether you stand the side of absolute abstinence or will allow for occasional or moderated consumption, we should all be able to agree that drunkenness isn’t good for anyone.  Leaders being held to higher standards, as we set the bar and expectation, even more so should avoid drunkenness.

Some will assert that the best way to avoid being drunk is to avoid consuming alcohol entirely, “lest we be tempted”.   Yet, Scripture will point to wine being consumed regularly and at special events/occasions.  Jesus made wine from water.  The Bible says that we simply shouldn’t drink too much, right?  The argument can go in circles.  However there are some things you need to consider, as a leader.

What Does Your Denomination/Church Say on the Topic?

If you are a leader in a denomination or church which believes in total abstinence, as a leader you are expected to adhere to that rule.  When you agree to step into leadership at a particular church, you are also agreeing to abide by their rules for leaders.  Some churches will have stricter rules than others.  It is important to know these rules for yourself, your team, and your events.

If the church policy is total abstinence of drinking, have you ensured that your team members understand this policy?  If the church is fine with your consumption of alcohol in your own home, but not in public spaces… perhaps a ladies trip to the local vineyard for a wine tour is not appropriate.   We can’t claim ignorance on the topic, it is our responsibility to ask the church leadership what is and isn’t acceptable. 

I remember sitting in on a meeting where it was shared that a group of women had brought a bottle of wine to share in their hotel room while at a weekend long retreat.  This was new territory because the women’s ministry leadership team had never even considered that anyone would bring a bottle of wine to a church function.  The debate ensued between it being in the privacy of their own room, they were not drunk, and only a limited number of people knew about it.  On the other side of the equation was the question of would allowing it encourage others to do it, could it become a larger problem?   This resulted in a decision to make sure that in all future events of this nature, it was clearly stated in the “what to pack and what not to pack” information that alcoholic beverages were not to be brought.

If it wasn’t allowed, then everyone in attendance’s behavior was beyond reproach.  The church was represented well, and it’s reputation was not potentially tarnished.  Now, as I coach ministry leaders, I bring this up when we discuss event planning.  We must as a ministry stand in agreement with our church policies, and the leadership sets the tone.  If it is something you disagree with, you must ask if you can accept their terms or not.  When we are acting under the umbrella of our church, we become the face of our church.  Whatever our actions reflect about us, as a person, are also cast onto our church.

* Take the time to read the scriptures and ask the Lord to reveal to you His truth on this topic.

* Speak to your Pastor(s) and Staff/Leadership to ensure your ministry policies reflect the views of the church.



Characteristics of Godly Leadership: ABLE TO TEACH


We’ve been examining the characteristics of an overseer listed by the apostle Paul in I Timothy 3:2 and applying them to spiritual leadership. Because I’m a Bible teacher, this next quality is especially dear to my heart: “able to teach.”

But even as many aspire to teach, the Bible gives us a stern warning. James wrote: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV).

Why would teachers incur a stricter judgment? Throughout His Word, God expressed His anger at false teachers and corrupt shepherds who led His people astray. He is protective of His people, and will judge those who leave His people hungry and unprotected.

Being a teacher, especially as a spiritual leader, means we have the ability and the opportunity to influence others for good or for bad. And when we teach in the name of Jesus, we must be careful that what we teach is consistent with the whole counsel of God’s Word.

So, in light of this warning, what does “able to teach” require? Let’s look at three areas:


Before we consider Bible knowledge or relational skills, the spiritual leader who is able to teach must first be teachable.

A teachable teacher has a humble heart instead of an arrogant attitude.

Even though we’re 2,000 years removed from Jesus’ earthly ministry, she sits at His feet by spending time in His Word and being aware of the prompting of His Spirit.

She tackles her topic with a desire to learn before she prepares to teach the content.

Bible Knowledge

A spiritual leader isn’t a know-it-all about the Bible. But she is a student of God’s Word. She is “a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15 NIV).

She is a teacher who does not hijack a verse out of context. Instead, one who is able to teach studies the context of what she is teaching. What verses come before it? After it? Who was the original audience of that particular book of the Bible? Why did the writer write it?

One who is able to teach limits her teaching of the Bible to exegesis (drawing the meaning from the text and its context), and refuses to be drawn into eisegesis (teaching what she wants the passage to say rather than what it actually says).

A godly teacher will ensure that, as much as possible, she seeks to use the Bible to interpret itself. What she interprets a verse to mean in one place will never contradict what the Bible says elsewhere, for the Bible never contradicts itself.


One who is able to teach also treats her audience with respect. She doesn’t approach them as someone who has it all together or who has “arrived.” Rather, her perspective is that of a person traveling the same journey as those she is teaching.

A godly teacher knows her audience. Her vocabulary and illustrations will be consistent with the background of her listeners. The apostle Paul was a master of this. He said of himself, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (I Corinthians 9:22 NIV).

These are only a few of the characteristics of a godly spiritual leader who is “able to teach.” But they provide a good place to start!

Ava Pennington is an author, teacher, and speaker from the Treasure Coast of Florida.  You can read more of her work on her site: 

If you are looking for a great gift this season, consider Ava’s book:


Characteristics of Godly Leaders: RESPECTABLE



We are called to be different from the world, to develop and display Christ like attributes.  We choose to be common, or we choose to be holy.  Just as the articles in the temple were consecrated and set apart as holy, we too must be holy and not allow ourselves to be used for common purposes.  Both our speech and our actions should reflect the character of Christ. If we do not lead by example, we are no better than the religious leaders in Christ’s day whose actions did not match their words.


Paul calls godly leaders to be respectable in 1 Timothy 3:2.  The Greek word used is kosmios, which means orderly, modest, and virtuous.  This is where Latinized form of the word cosmos originated, with which we are more familiar.  We use cosmos to refer to the universe, but it also means to order, arrange, equip, adorn, and dress.  God put the universe in perfect order and dressed it in an array of light and color that mankind could never imagine, and is just beginning to discover.  He was deliberate and intentional in His creation. 

To be orderly is to adorn ourselves with purposeful and intentional speech, dress, and behavior.  What we say and do should always point to our savior and not to ourselves.  This means we should not be attention seekers.  Attention seeking takes on various forms, such as coarse language, suggestive dress, or unseemly actions, the opposite of which would be modesty.


Obscenity is used today by many for its shock value. It is also used by people who wish to be perceived as intimidating, and/or to sound common and fit in with what is considered the norm.  Paul says we should not use obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking (Ephesians 5:4).  This extends beyond using the Lord’s name in vain, for how does it glorify God when we use obscenity in our everyday speech or when we are angry? Likewise, we do not need to use obscenity to persuade unbelievers.  The Holy Spirit will appeal to unbelievers. We are to deliver the message in the manner prescribed by God and allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. 


Leaders should not engage in activities that bring disorder into their lives.  Examples would include the use of mind altering substances (legal or otherwise), such as marijuana.  Don’t allow the enemy to tear your testimony apart by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, and be very mindful of the effects of prescription medications.  We need to avoid being drawn into arguments, gossip, or negative talk.  When we enter a room, leave the desire to be noticed behind.  Avoid “showing off”.  

God gave mankind the gift of free will.  He does not order us to make the right choices.  We also need to understand that we cannot control others.  We need to step back and allow those around us to make their own choices, good or bad.  This includes husbands, we are to trust God to work with them and not engage in telling them what to do.  Asking and accepting their answer is keeping God in control.  A leader should be a good example of godly humility and trust, especially in our home.

Lastly, suggestive dress should always be avoided.  The enemy uses this as a snare and it will not lead to anything God honoring.  Immodest dress creates ungodly chatter among women, and lustful desires among men.

Always be mindful that as leaders we are being observed and often emulated.  What we do and say can be used by God for His glory, or by the enemy as entrapment.