Fishers of [Wo]men

fisherofmen

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.

thewheel

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.

 

 

Serving a Team Member in Grief

brokenangel

When crisis hits any one in our circle of friends or community, we want to respond.  We send flowers, bring over meals, and do whatever we can to help.  When crisis hits someone on our ministry team, we feel the same desire to help them.  However, the method in which we choose to help is not always very helpful.

Everyone responds to crisis and grief differently, some will want to retreat and cleave to their family members.  Others want to do anything they can to keep their mind occupied.  This past week, my father in law passed away.  I’ve never seen my husband more interested in knocking things off his “honey do list”. 

Several years ago, my husband went through a series of surgeries that spanned over nine months.  He was not allowed to return to work until he was healed from his final surgery.  He was home bound, in significant pain, and required my constant attention.  However, he also slept a lot during the healing process.  I couldn’t leave the house but for short errands and picking up the kids, in case he needed me.  It was a great time for me to lean into Women’s Ministry with full gusto.  I was happy to take on more tasks, simply to have something to fill up my time.  However, our Women’s Ministry leader at the time kept trying to scale me back.  Her intentions were good, but she wasn’t understanding what I needed at the time.

When my Father In Law’s cancer came back and we were told he didn’t have much time left, this was a different scenario.  I needed to be available to my husband, so that I could accompany him on visits with his father.  I needed to make sure everything at the house was under control, so he didn’t need to worry about it.  This was a time where, in crisis, I needed to be relieved of commitments wherever possible. 

What I’ve learned over the years in ministry leadership, and from my own experiences, is that not only do we all handle crisis and grief differently…. but each crisis or grief is going to be different and handled accordingly.

So, how do you handle it when your Women’s Ministry team member is going through a crisis or grieving? 

  • Don’t assume.  How you would respond, or what you would want others to do for you, is not necessarily what she needs.  Don’t make assumptions or decisions based on your own feelings/opinion.
  • Do ask.   Ask your team member if she needs to take some time off, or if there are any of her tasks she would like to hand off (or that can be tabled).
  • Don’t overwhelm.  Take your conversations slowly, don’t put pressure on her to decide today what she needs or doesn’t.  Give her time to process your offer, and get back to you.  If she’s a very private person, don’t show up on her doorstep unannounced with the whole ministry team with a slew of freezer meals.
  • Do wait.  Make the offers, then wait patiently for her to respond.
  • Don’t miss her ques.  When at the church or at meetings, people are going to ask her questions or offer sympathy.  If you notice she seems to be growing upset, don’t miss her facial expressions and body language.  Step in and divert the questions or find a way to bring her out of the crowd to compose herself.  She’ll appreciate the rescue.
  • Do pray.  Pray for her family, the situation, her needs, peace, etc.  As a Women’s Ministry team, there is something incredibly beautiful and sacred when we intercede for those we serve with.