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?

Women’s & Men’s Ministries – Statistics

womenmensministry

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

WMCapril2017a

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.