A Popular Identity

A PopularIdentity.png

Do you remember the popular kids in school?   They were popular because they were known by everyone (known doesn’t necessarily mean friends with everyone).  Some of the kids were just naturally likeable, they didn’t do anything in particular to be loved by everyone.  They were just good people, that seemed to get along well with anyone.  Then there were those who made strategic moves (good or bad) to work their way into notoriety.  When you think back to these people you were in school with, or if you were one of them…

What where you know for?  What made people gravitate to you?  What made people like you or want to be your friend?

Now let’s spin this to ministry.

There are churches and ministries that are incredibly popular, everyone knows who they are.  They may never have even walked through their doors or looked at their website… but you drop their name and everyone recognizes it immediately.  Some of these churches and ministries have gotten to that position naturally.  They just do what God called them to do, followed that vision, and the people came to them.  Others made strategic choices (good or bad) to elevate themselves into the world of being known.

But, what are they known for?  What made the people gravitate through their doors or into their cause?

What is Your Vision or Mission Statement?

If your church has a vision or mission statement, that is the most obvious answer.  THAT is what your church or ministry should be known for.  If your mission is to serve the homeless, then that should be the answer.  “Community Church is known for it’s outreach and service to the homeless in our community”.  If your mission is to support the orphans in your community, then that should be answer.  “Women’s Ministry of First Church is to share the gospel with our foster and adoptive families, by walking along life with them.”  If the church has a mission, then the Women’s Ministry should have a similar mission pin pointed toward women.

When asking the community about your church or ministry, you would hope that their answer would be representative of your vision/mission statement.  If it’s not, that needs to be addressed.

A few years ago, I attended an event with my sister.  At the end of the event I asked her opinion of what she experienced.  She replied:  “These are precious, godly women.”  That is great feedback.  Part of the mission of that church foremost connecting people to Christ, and based on what we witnessed their women’s ministry was doing just that.

I recently had a discussion with a local woman about her church, and I posed a similar question to her.  I wanted to know what her church was known for, and she replied “Well, people call it the popular church.”   I asked her what she meant by that, I wanted to understand more.  Why is it popular?  Do they love on people well?  Are they super active in the community?  As I pressed in further, she explained… “Everyone knows the church by name or at least someone who goes there.”  When I asked what the mission statement of the church was, she didn’t know it.  This is not so great feedback.  It’s not terrible, but I’m not certain our ministries simply want to be known for existing.

Get a Vision or Mission Statement

If your church or ministry doesn’t have a vision or mission statement, it’s time to get into prayer and ask God to put a calling on your heart for your church/ministry.  If you do have a vision/mission statement, ask people randomly if they know what it is.  If they can’t answer you, or can’t articulate it well, then revisit your vision/mission statement.  Perhaps it needs to be revised so that it is simpler and more clearly defined.  Or, you may just need to remind those who are in your church/ministry every so often what your mission/vision statement is.

Have Accountability to that Vision/Mission

Once your church/ministry has a clearly defined and easily explained vision/mission statement, ensure that you have people on staff or in your planning team that are going to hold you accountable to that vision/mission.  Weigh your plans, budget, events, outreach, trips, programs, and ministries against it.  If it doesn’t hold up to the vision/mission, let it go.  If you can’t let it go, if you really feel like God is calling you to something new… it may be a case of the Lord giving you a new vision/mission.  Those who serve for this accountability can join you in prayer seeking God’s direction and guidance to continue as you have been called or that it is time to carve a new pathway.

Keep a Finger on the Pulse of the Community

If you believe that your church/ministry has a significant calling and presence in your community, the best way to find out if that is being executed is by checking the heartbeat of the community.  Ask not just your church members or the women your ministry serve, but also the community.  When meeting people and striking up conversation, ask them if they’ve heard of your church or ministry.  What do they say, how do they respond?  This is an easy way to find out if you are living our your vision or if there needs to be course correction.

Being a popular church or ministry is NOT a bad thing.  What matters is WHAT you are popular for, what you are known for in the community.  The simplest answer come from Scripture in John 13:35, we will be known for our love for one another.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What will distinguish us from each other, as churches and ministries, and define our vision/mission is in the way that we love.  How we serve, care, tend, lead, teach, and guide the flock we have been put in charge of and the communities we have been called to.

A Common Identity, Our Unique Calling

OurUniqueCalling

When we speak of Spiritual Gifts, we are talking about those unique gifts and talents that the Lord gives to us to use for His purpose and glory.  For some it is teaching, shepherding, and leading.  Others may be gifted in prayer, hospitality, and service.  There are many gifts, just as there are many parts of the body.  While together we represent the body, our individual gifts are like the body parts working in accordance to their gifts.  The eye doesn’t do the work of the heart, each must do it’s part:

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NIRV)

One Body but Many Parts

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

What does this mean for our ministries?

Imagine what would happen in your city, if every Women’s Ministry (or Church) decided it would focus on helping the homeless.  That is a noble cause!  But, what about the orphans?  The widows?  The disabled?  What about the kids who need to hear those VBS lessons?  What about the unexpected pregnancies?  Or, the women who are in recovery?

If we all focused on just one particular group, the results for that group would be amazing.  However, the impact on the other groups would be devastating.

As ministries, when we embrace our unique calling as a collective group, we divide the load.  Many hands do make light work, but many hands also reach more people… different people… in different ways.

How do we know our calling and live it out as a ministry?

Seek the Lord – begin your search for understanding by coming to the Lord in prayer.  Ask Him to reveal to you the needs in your community, your place in the church and community, and how he would have you serve.

Speak to Your Pastor –  it is important to understand that if your ministry is underneath the authority of the church that you should be supporting the vision/calling of your church.  If your church is called to reaching the community for Christ, then your mission as a ministry is to reach women for Christ.  If your church has a heart for those who are orphaned, in foster care, etc. then so should your ministry.  If your ministry is not under the authority of the church, seek God for further clarity.

Test the Women – if you have not done it yet, have your women take a spiritual gifts test.  By identifying their individual gifting you can see how they can fit within the existing ministry or expand the reach of your ministry.

Connect with Other Leaders –  make it a point to get to know other ministry leaders in your area.  If you see that multiple ministries are already serving one group of people well, you can look at other groups that need service.  If a need presents itself in the community that is too big for one group to handle alone, partner up.

There are some churches and organizations that have the means (resources and people) to have a vision/mission/calling that has a broader casting.  That is ok!  Perhaps it is time for a NEW ministry to be apart of your church, or a new group to be served.  The point is that we are intentional about how we serve in our community by seeking the Lord and through communication between our Pastors and community leaders.

 

An Acts 2 Ministry Will Worship Together

WORSHIP

For most of us, we would define worshipping together with fellow believers as coming together and singing songs that praise God and honor Him.   I’m a big fan of including a short Worship session as part of a Women’s Ministry Brunch, or tying in Worship into the schedule for a conference.

There are other ways we can worship God.  We can encourage these as individual habits, as well as corporately as a ministry.

  1.  Prayer.  Prayer is a very active form of worship.  We worship God through our prayer and supplication, as we confess and repent, thank and praise, and even when we put our trust in Him with our petitions.  Individually we set an example for others as we pray and share how God has responded to our prayers.  As leaders, we can teach others how to pray and encourage them to challenge their prayer life to new heights.  Corporately, we can pray as an assembly of believers.
  2.  The Bible.  We honor and worship God as we get to know Him through His Word.  To know God is to love Him, trust Him, and glorify Him.  We make time to commune with God through His Word, it is an act of worship.  Individually, we set the example of the value and importance of regular time reading and studying.  As leaders, we step into the role of teacher and shepherd.  Corporately, we create avenues where the women can learn how to study the Bible for themselves and groups where they grow and challenge one another.
  3. Obedience.  If we are praying and committing to be in the Word, we can’t avoid His truths and His direction.  To worship God fully, we must also be in obedience to His call on our life and His commands.  Individually, we must set the standard of obedience… but I believe we also need to show how to respond when we recognize that we’ve been out of obedience.  Leading the women to do the same, and being obedient in His direction for the ministry.  Remember, this is HIS ministry not ours.
  4. Fellowship.  Hebrews tells us that we must not forget to meet with one another, it is important that we are not just having a potluck with our sisters in Christ ever other month.  We need to build deep relationships, getting to know others and challenging each other to become more deeply rooted.   Individually, this means that we are careful to not isolate our selves from the body but to embrace them; with healthy boundaries of course.  As Leaders, we must find the balance between our prayer and study offerings and opportunities to fellowship and have fun with one another.
  5. Service.  We worship God when we serve His people, the ones He knows by name… the least of these.  We worship God when we serve those who do not know Him, because we may be seed planters.  Individually, we need to be modeling service and missions.  As Leaders, we can plan projects or partner up with ministries and organizations to create service opportunities.  Corporately, not only can we serve in the capacities together but we can also help the women discover their spiritual gifts and then plug them into serving the church/community with those gifts.

These are just a few ways that we can worship God, as an Acts 2 Ministry.

An Acts 2 Ministry is a Praying Ministry

prayer

A ministry that is seeking to align itself with the Acts 2 Church, needs to be a ministry that prays.  Together, corporately.  Individually, independently.

  • We set the standard for prayer being important in the daily life of the individual believer, and also over the body as a whole.
  • We model the behavior we want repeated, when we as the leaders pray… we encourage others to pray.
  • We teach how to pray.  It shouldn’t be assumed that everyone instinctually knows or at least feels confident in it.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were praying in a group, and you listened to someone fumbling through a prayer when put on the spot?  Did you ever ask for a volunteer to pray only to hear awkward silence?  

The Scriptures talk a lot about the importance and value of prayer.  How often we should do it, why we do it, who should do it, etc.  In Luke 11, Jesus was praying and when he finished one of his disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.  Surely this wasn’t the first time they heard Jesus pray, modeling wasn’t enough.  They needed to be taught how to pray.

We should never assume that just because a person has gone to church all of their life, that they understand how to pray (or why it’s good practice).

Another assumption that should be avoided is that because someone doesn’t pray well out loud in public doesn’t have a solid personal prayer life.  She may be shy.

Some recommendations:

  • Use some of your women who are gifted in prayer to set up a prayer team.  A prayer team stands in the gap for those who need someone to pray for them.  This is a great way to incorporate your introverted women into serving the body through intercessory prayer.
  • Invite the more extroverted praying women to lead the prayer at your women’s events, let them model their prayer gift for others.
  • If a prayer warrior is also a gifted speaker, How To Pray is a great topic for a women’s event or part of a larger retreat breakout session.
  • Build confidence in praying by never putting people on the spot to lead/close prayer.  As them in advance, if they seem hesitant offer to take a few moments to guide them, and give them an opportunity to opt out if they are not ready.  Make a note to follow up with her later about coaching her on praying.
  • Host Small Groups/Bible Studies that explain the value of prayer, cover the Scriptures about praying, and that teach women how to pray on their own and corporately.  Make this something you offer regularly or as part of your discipleship program.

Acts 2 Church & Ministry Has Fellowship

Fellowship

There are two common definitions for the word “fellowship”.  The first defines fellowship as a friendly association of people who share a common interest.  The second defines fellowship as a group of people that are in an official group.  In the case of the church, I believe both apply.  A church body should be more than a bunch of people meeting in a space to receive information from the Pastor, it should be more akin to a family gathering or people who come together to celebrate their shared passions.

In Tolkien’s book “The Lord of the Rings” a group of unlikely characters rally together united in a common goal, and they refer to themselves as a fellowship.  Over the course of the story, this fellowship become more than strangers … they become friends, then really family.  They break bread with one another, face trials with one another, loss and grief, life and hope with one another.  By the end of the story, there is a deep and binding connection among the fellowship that endures even when life separates them.

This type of relationship is something that many are striving for, especially our women.  Yet, time and time again, I hear about how lonely they are.  In a world where we are connected instantly to one another, at the touch of a button, fellowship is an areas where we seem to be lacking greatly.  A ministry that is spending all of it’s time teaching is going to develop women who are Biblically smart, but without an emotional connection it will remain superficial … like a group of professors in a collegiate fellowship.  Sharing ideas, asking questions, etc.   To get to the emotional connectedness, women in particular need opportunities to live life alongside one another.

Fellowship has to extend beyond Bible Studies and Small Group, and into opportunities to get to know one another at a personal level.  We should be careful to not focus so much on fellowship that we neglect teaching, but rather find a balance where we are building a community that is growing in connection and in knowledge.  When scheduling social events with the women in your church, we need to make sure that they are also events that are connecting the women to Christ.  This doesn’t require teaching per say, but opportunities to model Christlikeness.  

Fellowship will:

  • Help your women develop authentic relationships with one another.
  • Deep connectedness where they can lean on each other in times of trial.
  • Creating family connections, particularly women who are not near their family.
  • Open the doors for women to invite their family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Transition new members into the family of believers, guiding toward Small Groups.

Growing in Godliness Together – Jenny Andrews

I was living in Los Angeles, California when I had met her.  I was new to the church I was attending and wasn’t sure what to expect from the mommy and me class. I just knew that I was lonely in motherhood and needed someone to say hi to me. She said hi and then invited me over to her house for burgers with the kids. My husband was getting ready to leave for war and I was so in need of support. I had been a Christian for about 1 year and was sure in need of godly women.

As we sat and chatted about who we were and how we came to be where we were now I told myself this woman is a safe person for me. I really love talking to her. That conversation was nearly 10 years ago and we have had hundreds of conversations since then.

I wasn’t always in a leadership role so when I took on a leadership role in the church after fighting with God about my skills and talents my sweet friend came with me on this journey. She lives in another state now but we talk regularly. She has heard my tears, joys, anger, and heart through many circumstances in ministry.

Leadership can be lonely, hard, and frustrating at times we all need a small handful of friends who can walk with us through some tough decisions in ministry. Leadership is not a journey that we walk on alone because God never intended us to be lone Christian rangers.  He created us to be relational. But how do you find that godly person to go to when times get tough or when you want to celebrate what the Lord is doing? Below are 3 important steps to take to finding the right person to walk through leadership with.

  1. Prayer for the Lord to send the right person to you. God cares about our relationships with others so He will gladly answer that prayer for the right person.
  2. After prayer, be intentional on educating yourself in what a good friend looks like and become one. We usually attract the type of people we want to be like. A great book called, “Safe People” by Henry Cloud is a great starting point to becoming a great friend and looking for healthy traits in other women.
  3. Look for woman who you can learn from and grow from with. Women who absolutely adore Jesus and will not compromise their relationship with the Lord for anyone. Women who will graciously call you out and hold you accountable.

My sweet sister in Christ has been through this leadership journey with me since day one; and continues to encourage me and challenge me in my walk with Jesus. She has prayed with me and for me on numerous occasions. We are growing in godliness together. We aren’t perfect but we are in love with Jesus and His word.

We are living in the last days where people will turn to their own ways and not acknowledge who God is.  But, one thing I know for sure about our Father He always leaves a remnant of people behind to stand glorify Him and His holy name. It may get harder to find those who hearts are set on God, but when you pray and seek Him He will send the people your way.

Remember you can’t do it alone friend you need others to help you lift your hands up like Moses had in Exodus 17:13 NLT:

Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So, Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So, his hands held steady until sunset.”

Those friendships are invaluable and you will not regret having them when you them the most.

Event Recap 3/3: Make It Work!

Making YourBudget Work

Whether your budget is zero, two hundred, or two thousand… we can all agree that there are times where we need to stretch the budget a bit further.  It may be for a particular event, or the ministry budget as a whole.  Here are some tips to help you make your budget work for you.

  • Our previous article spoke to working with what you have.  You will be surprised what supplies and resources are just laying around in people’s homes and garages.  Often, we just need to ask.  If we do not allow our needs to be known, those who can fulfill those needs have no idea their help is needed. 
  • When budgeting for a large event, created the budget based on half the expected attendance.  For example if you want to have a special speaker banquet for 100 women, at $30 per ticket:  Your budget should be based on 50 women at $30 each, or $1500.  This way you know that your whole event is paid at the moment the 50th woman registers your event is covered.  Any registration above that provides funds that can go into the ministry budget, or for something extra special for the event attendees.  I will often create two budgets for large events. The 1st budget is what I absolutely must have “event budget”, and then the second budget includes my big dreams.  As money becomes available, I’ll start pulling items from the dream budget into the event budget.
  • For smaller events, or low cost events, considering rounding up the registration.  Let’s say you are having an event that costs $8 per woman, round up the registration to $10.  That $2 per person will add up over time and help build up the budget.  But, it also gives an opportunity to stretch the budget further to include scholarships for those who want to attend the event but may not be able to afford it.  Or, a buffer to cover any unexpected costs.
  • Use fundraiser events that don’t require any upfront money… where you can take orders for products.  Or, host events that cost you nothing to set up (like a craft fair, shopping boutique night) and people pay to attend or you get a % of sales.  A local MOPS group set up a fundraiser with a local restaurant where they would get a % of the sales from a set date/time as long as the guests mentioned the MOPS group name.  You can sell Tshirts with the ministry logo/verse, catalog sales, etc.
  • Look for event sponsors to cover costs or provide specific goods/services.   At a mother daughter tea, we had a local nursery set up some gorgeous plants with a bench for taking mom/daughter photos.  They did this for free, and placed a sign off to the side letting the guests know they sponsored the photo spot.
  • Take an offering or find a patron who supports your ministry to offset expenses the budget doesn’t cover.
  • Think ahead.  If you know that you have a Christmas Tea each year, watch for after Christmas sales on décor, plates, etc. that you can use for the next tea.  If you have Mother’s Day luncheon, watch for small favors or even gift baskets that go on clearance after Mother’s Day, and save them up for the next year.   Plan craft days around what items you crafty ladies find in the clearance bins at the local craft stores.
  • Check craigslist, ebay, and other sales sites for items you may need.  Many women will sell off their décor/supplies from their weddings, birthday parties, showers, etc instead of storing them.   I’ve seen everything from centerpieces to table cloths and chair covers.  It’s already themed too, which is great for those of us who are less creative.
  • Don’t forget your ministry is under the church (or other organizations), which means you are tax free!  Bring a copy of your tax free certificate when making ministry purchases, and some stores (like Hobby Lobby) will offer you an additional % off your purchase.
  • If you are ordering a large quantity of supplies, favors, books, etc. make sure to inquire about bulk discounts on single items.  I’ve even had luck calling manufacturers directly and getting items at wholesale prices.  Never hurts to ask!
  • Charge for events, when appropriate.  This may be charging for those using childcare ($2 -$5), charging a small registration ($5) plus bring a dish to share.  Just remember if you are going to charge, then you do not take an offering.
  • You can stretch a budget by sticking to it, if you overspend in one area you will have to make cuts in another.
  • Invest in reusable décor items instead of making new purchases for every event.  Linen table cloths, a simple centerpiece that you can embellish for holidays/themes.  If you have the same event each year (Mother’s Day tea or Christmas Brunch) you can actually save money by purchasing linens vs. renting them.
  • Coordinate with other ministries, perhaps there are items to purchase that can be shared and thus the expense can be shared.  A Women’s Ministry and MOPS ministry could share many staple decorations or supplies.
  • What are items within the church that you can use?  Can you use the copier or laminator?  There may be a stash of décor hidden away from previous years that can be brought back to life!
  • For events outside the church, remember to ask about group discounts.  Usually groups of 20 or more can get discounted rates for conferences, painting nights, and other such events.  If having a ladies night out at a local restaurant, you can often lessen the cost by having a set menu to choose from versus allowing them to order off the menu.

Share your ideas for extending, stretching or creating added funds to your ministry budget.  How do you make it work?