Ministry Spotlight: MOPS International

 

mops

This month, across the country and in many parts of the word, mothers of presechoolers are gathering at local churches for fellowship, support, encouragement, resources, and relationships.  An exciting facet is that Jesus is always invited too.

When my husband and I relocated to a new city, over an hour away, we didn’t know a single person here.  At that time we had an 8 year old and a 4 year old… however within just a few months I found out our third was on the way.  We were still trying to find a church home, our neighborhood didn’t have any other families with young children, and I was so very alone.   My first thoughts were:  “I need to find a MOPS group”.

I was already familiar with MOPS from my previous city and I knew that finding a local group would be a great way for me to meet people in my community that were in the same stage of life.  I also knew that MOPS groups were made up of women from various churches, which gave me an opportunity to be a part of a group while we were still searching for our home church.  For me, MOPS was a way to plug into community.

Over the last 17 years, I have watched women come to MOPS for many reasons.  What I also saw was how much MOPS became an avenue that led women and their families into the church.  MOPS Moms would sign their kids up for VBS.  The next year they were signing up as VBS volunteers.  They would trickle into family or kids events at the church, and then you would begin to see them at church on Sunday mornings.

There were some moms who ended up staying in our MOPS group, but their families would attend a church closer to their home.  Some would even start MOPS groups in their new church home.  MOPS is a blessing to both the mothers who are served and the churches in which they become part of the community.

Many communities, like our own, have MOPS groups with waiting lists because they’ve reached maximum capacity.  MOPS is one of those ministries, that in my opinion, you simply can’t have enough of.  Staring a MOPS group is an easy process that begins with the desire to serve our mothers with preschool aged children.

If you are interested in starting up a MOPS group in your church and community, visit their website or speak with another local MOPS leader.

 

 

Back to School!

fundraiser

It’s back to school season!  Women’s Ministry groups around the country are full of mothers who are navigating the waters of back to school.

Some are watching their children enter their school years for the first time, tear soaked tissues in hand.

Others are wrapping their heads around new teachers, dress codes, schedules, and shopping.

Then there are those who have their hands on a whole box of tissues as their children enter their senior years or head off to college.

How can we minister to our mothers?

  1.  Mentoring.   It is so valuable to any mother to have in her circle of friends and mentors the woman who has already walked this road.  We lean heavy into those who have gone through these days, learn from them about the beauty of what is to come.
  2. Calendars.  When you are planning your Women’s Ministry events, consider your local school calendars.  Find out important dates like school vacations and major events like Prom and Graduation.  Try your best to schedule events away from these times, as parents may be out of town on holiday or celebrating milestones with family who have traveled into town.  Be sure to consider private school schedules, which may differ from public.  If your church services more than one county, be sure to take into account the other county schedules as well.
  3. Clothing Swaps.  Back to school can be an expensive year, bring in all of your school clothes that the kids grew out of and swap with other moms.  Or, take those collected clothes and bring them to shelters for homeless women and children.
  4. Supply Drives.  Use your women’s ministry events as an opportunity to collect school supplies and take them to schools in need, or local children’s group home.  Bless the moms in your church who could use a hand offsetting back to school expenses.
  5. Connections.  Connect moms who have children in the same schools, so they can get to know each other better.  Help establish car pool groups, after school child care volunteers for working parents, etc.
  6. Volunteer.  Start a after school program for children in your local schools, teach them about Christ, friendships, character qualities, etc.  Moms would love to know their kids are being invested into vs. babysat at after school programs.
  7. Celebrate.  For the moms who are becoming empty nesters for the first time, meet up with them during these first weeks especially and celebrate!
  8. Small Groups.   Add a day time small group that meets when the kids are school, this is a great opportunity for our stay home parents.  They can meet with a local small group to study the word, without taking away valuable family time at nights and on the weekends.

Ministry Spotlight: One Child Matters

onechildmatterspage

This summer, at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, I happened to come across a great ministry in the Exhibition Hall.  After spending quite a few minutes talking ministry with their representative Curtis Wilson, I fell head over for the work that One Child Matters is doing for children all over the world & the impact that they are having on communities.  What is beautiful about partnering up with a ministry like One Child Matters, is that there is a impact not only abroad but in our churches, communities, and in ourselves.

The very first time my family ever sponsored a child from another country, we specifically chose a child who was similar to age as our children.  It’s been beautiful to watch her grow up and turn into a young woman who is not only growing in her faith but dedicated to being a positive influence on her own community.  One of my most treasured possessions is a letter she wrote to us where she shared how she prays for us.  When I think of the difference in our lives and opportunities, to know that she is praying for us is a humbling reminder that we are all in this life together.  We are all family, brothers and sisters… sons and daughters… of the King.  Family cares for and prays for each other, regardless of the number of miles between us.

If your church or Women’s Ministry is looking for an organization to partner with… I am thrilled to recommend One Child Matters as a suggestion.  There are children available for sponsorship, as well as missions trip opportunities, and you can request a speaker from One Child Matters to speak at your church or next Women’s Ministry event. 

For more information, please visit their websiteOr, you can contact Curtis Wilson directly at 614.560.5742  and on Twitter @CurtisDWilson

If you are a local Women’s Ministry Leader or Pastor’s wife, in the Treasure Coast or South Florida, visit our facebook page.  Curtis Wilson will be traveling to our area to share One Child Matters with local churches, and there will be a special dinner event for Women’s Ministry Leaders/Pastor’s Wives. You can add your name & church name to our list & we will make sure you receive an invitation to the event.

Pray Top Down

prayerchurch

A standard protocol for any ministry is to pray for God’s protection and favor over their work.  At a Women’s Ministry team meeting, we may pray for each others’ personal requests, for the event we are planning, and the women in the church. How often do you make sure to include praying for your Pastor, Staff, Church, and the Community it is serving?

So often we are focused on our own ministry needs that we forget that we are part of a bigger ministry in our community.  We are focused on our own ministry, and our own church… and we may forget about the other ministries and churches that are serving in our areas as well.  We also may be so focused on our role in serving in our ministry area that we forget that we are part of a body larger that we serve as well.

As we delve into the topic of Prayer & Worship in your Women’s Ministry at this weekends training event, we want to make sure that we don’t neglect to remind our leaders the importance of praying beyond your ministry.  We are grateful for The Good Book Company’s book “5 Things to Pray for Your Church”, which walks you through the ways you can be praying for your church, your role within it, and beyond your church walls.  The women attending our training event will be receiving a copy of this book courtesy of The Good Book Company.

goodbookcompanyprayer

A posture of prayer needs to start from the top down.  As ministry workers who are part of a larger church body, before we begin praying for our own ministry needs and direction, we must begin with the church from the top down.  We pray for protection over the building, and we pray that our Pastors will be protected & have wisdom in shepherding the flock. We can even go a step further up, as we pray for our country and elected officials and how they will respond, represent, and protect the rights of the church.

As we lead the women in our church to a posture of prayer, and model the behavior and practice before them, we can also help them to foster a position of prayer over the church they call home.

Model the Prayer

praying

For some people prayer seems to come naturally, it pours off their lips like sweet nectar.  We can even be envious of another person’s ability to pray, as their heartfelt words sound like music to the soul.  For others, prayer is like walking through a room full of mouse traps with a raw egg on a spoon… hoping you can make it to the other side with out falling.  We can recognize the preciousness of what we are carrying (sweet words to the Lord), we understand the importance of our task (to honor and praise Him, to confess and surrender to Him), and yet the words just do not flow at all.

There are those whom the Lord has anointed the spiritual gift of intercessory prayer.  While we are not to covet or try and take a gift that was not intended of us, prayer is not an exclusive gift that only some of us get.   The scriptures give us multiple examples of people who cried out to the Lord, written prayers of the saints, and even Jesus himself was asked:  Lord, how do we pray?  He answered with The Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer is something that we are all called to participate in, and yet a common area new believers (and even some seasoned believers) stumble through.

Here is the GOOD NEWS… a prayer can be as simple as crying out the Lord… Oh, God!  For the Lord knows what is on our hearts and what burdens us.  He knows the trouble we face, He understands the words that we fail to utter in our despair.  The Lord is also patient, and He will listen as you unload every word running through your head… whether it is in eloquent sentences or broken up by sobs.  He mourns when we mourn, because He loves us so deeply.  He rejoices when we pray to Him in thankfulness and praise.  He hears the hushed tone Thank you, Lord as much as the loud Thank You JESUS for your blessings of which I do not deserve!

Yet, there is MORE good news.   When we want to understand more about how to pray, the scriptures are there to answer that need.  We will learn what TO DO and what NOT to do in our prayer life.  We have the example of The Lord’s Pray, and the prayers of others who have come before us.   In addition, we have books that can help us improve our prayer life.  Whether it is a book of sample prayers, books that have pulled out the prayers directly from the scriptures, and books that walk you through the process of praying from your own heart.

As Women’s Ministry Leaders we can help foster an attitude of prayer in our church by modeling prayer in our personal lives.  We can also help foster a posture of prayer in the lives of the women in our church by helping them develop prayer habits.  Prayer teams do not need to be made up of only those who excel in prayer.  They can be a great place to put women who desire to deepen their prayer life.  Prayer rooms can provide direction and resources, as well as women who are available to help model prayer to those who walk in those doors.

Another option is to begin an intentional step toward developing good prayer habits by adding Prayer to your Small Groups menu.  This weekend the women in attendance at our training event will be receiving a copy of Susan Hunt’s Prayers of the Bible study book and leader guide.  Not only is this a great opportunity to talk with your existing small group leaders, about having a small group focused on prayer… but it is a great introduction to get NEW small group leaders in place.  If you have a woman who is already a prayer warrior, but didn’t think she could be a small group leader… WHAT A GREAT WAY TO GET HER STARTED!  This would allow her to get her feet wet in the leader process while leading a subject that is already near and dear to her heart.

prpbooksprayer

Thank You P&R Publishing for your support in our upcoming Women’s Ministry Council training event on Prayer and Worship & their role in our Women’s Ministry programs!

PRPublishinglogo

 

Lead Them to Pray

This week, in preparation for our Prayer & Worship Training Event , the Women’s Ministry Council invited member Jenny Andrews to contribute to the conversation.  Jenny is going to share with us practical tips for Starting a Prayer Team  in your Women’s Ministry. 
Before starting or agreeing to start either ministry in the church be sure to go before the Lord in prayer  about what it takes to start either or both. Both take time and both require diligence. Like any good steward we are called to count the cost of starting a ministry or team.
After you have done that if you are feeling called go see the Pastor who would be responsible for such ministry. My Senior Pastor was not over this particular ministry, the Associate Pastor was so I went to him. Or, connect with current prayer team leader and ask to how you can help.
I would ask a few important questions:
1. What is your vision for prayer in the church/women’s ministry?
          a. Most likely the pastor and other leaders are aware of the weak areas in the body of  Christ and they can help you be intentional on specific areas of prayer.  (i.e. prayer  chain, prayer team, prayer room, prayer night)
2. How can I help you in that vision?
Once you get those questions answered it is now time to pray about building a team for the prayer ministry.  Use the pastor’s vision as your guideline for the prayer vision for the year. Meet with them yearly around the same time the recast vision and assess prayer needs.
1. Start with key leadership and ask them if they are aware of any women who they would
consider women of prayer.
2. Begin looking for woman in your small group or in casual conversations who are desiring to pray with you and others.
3. Make a list of people and begin praying over them.
4. Make a list of responsibilities that would be required to be a part of the team.
          a. i.e. no gossiping, live life of godliness (not perfection), willing to learn.
          b. You can also look online fore prayer guidelines that will help you make up your list.
          c. Do a separate list of responsibilities for prayer team and for prayer room if you are   doing both.
 5. Send out personal invites to the potential team members for a meet and greet.
 6. Plan out a year of prayer events before meet and greet
          a. Have your dates in writing, you don’t have to have details of events or meetings       just that they are happening.
          b. Get on the church calendar schedule so they know you are having events.
 7. Pray for a potential assistant or co-leader for team they will help you tremendously.
8. At the meet and greet:
           a. Share the vision of the team/room.
          b. Share the responsibilities
          c. Allow them to have input on needs of prayer
           d. Share with them calendar
          e. Do brainstorm for prayer event ideas
          f. Look for potential leader to help you in this meeting
 9. Follow through with events
10. Keep team up to date on everything and encourage them often.
Remember this is not a to-do list it is a suggested list and can be tweaked to fit your particular church  body needs.
Study to show yourself approved. I would encourage you to study spiritual warfare as it  goes hand and hand with prayer. My encouragement would be David Platt’s series on Angels, demons and spiritual warfare. Pray for discernment and wisdom often as you will need it. Research praying scripture and praying God’s will in accordance with the bible.
It will be a slow process and it does take time but your efforts and diligence will pay off in the long run.  Remember to keep Christ as the center of you prayer team and never be afraid to ask for help in area unknown to you. Remain teachable and steadfast in prayer.
Prayer meetings can happen anywhere.   You can host them in the main sanctuary of your church, or even at a local park.  A popular trend is the establishing of a prayer room in your church.  This is usually a quite space, where women can come to pray alone or in groups.  Some are decorated and stocked with resources on prayers, and others are just a friendly space with some chairs.  A door that can close for privacy is recommended.   You may even choose to have a prayer garden or walk on your church property.  For some ideas on Prayer Rooms, visit our Pinterest Page.

Jenny Andrews is a wife of 14 yrs, a mother to 3 wonderful boys and a devoted followed of Jesus. She desires to encourage and equip women to be all that the Lord has called them be.  She enjoys speaking and teaching the Word of God. For more information you can find Jenny Andrews on her Facebook page.

Small Group Series #4- When We Meet

sgseffective.jpg

By Gena McCown. Co-Founder Women’s Ministry Council

We have plowed through some length portions for this series, and now that we have taken care of the behind the scenes topics… let’s move to the front side of things.  We can have all of the prep work in check and still fail at small groups because we can’t control the meeting itself.  Now, I am going to admit that no matter how much you try a meeting can get away from you.  None of us are perfect, but the point I am going to focus on is what you need to happen MOST of the time.  Then when there is an occasional slip up, you will be forgiven.

Let’s cover some basic points that we should ALL be doing, then we’ll move on to the things where we have some options.

  • Preview the Material – do not going into each meeting blind.  Either watch the video and go through the workbook earlier in the day (or week), or even consider going through the whole thing before the study begins.  You will have a clearer idea of how long the material is going to take to cover, if you think you are going to need more time for discussion.
  • If you are teaching expository studies yourself, you should be preparing throughout the week, not a last minute hurrah before study starts.
  • Your group should be bathed in prayer, as anything we do that draws people closer to God the enemy is going to work to stop.  I always pray for obstacles to be removed from the path of the women to the study each week.
  • Set a realistic expectation on how long the study should last, and stick to that timeframe.  Occasionally conversation may take you over that timeframe, but make that the exception not the rule.
  • If a study is 8 weeks long, I always recommend telling people to plan for 9-10 weeks.  Inevitably something will happen that will disrupt the schedule. If everything goes according to plan use that last meeting as a conversation night to recap the study, make up date for anyone who missed a segment from the video, service project night, or even a fellowship night out on the town.
  • If you are meeting at a local coffee shop either schedule extra time into your meeting for ordering food/coffee…. or remind your attendees to arrive early to place their orders.
  • If you are meeting at the church or host home, make arrangements for any snacks/refreshments for the evening.  You do not always need to provide refreshments, but if you do put together a volunteer sign up sheet for the first meeting.

RUNNING THE MEETING:

  • Start on Time – be sure to show up a few minutes early to set up your videos or other things needed for that nights study.  You should be ready to go on time, and arriving early gives you time to deal with any technical issues.
  • Open in Prayer – you can choose to do a general opening prayer, allow people to make prayer requests, or take turns praying.  It is not uncommon for prayer time in small groups to take a long time if we are not careful.  I have tried a few methods each working effectively for different groups.  1) Ask the women to think of their prayer requests while praying a general prayer, asking God to listen to the prayers on their hearts.  2) Ask the women to submit their prayer requests to you via email/text prior to the meeting, then you can not only list them in brevity as you pray but also provide a printed list for the members to take home & pray over during the week.  3) Allow each woman to verbally make her prayer request before or during the prayer, but set a limit for 1 min. per person.  Establish this at the start of the 1st meeting, and remind the women they are free to ask questions or give additional prayers and support when the meeting is over.
  • Establish the “House Rules” at the first meeting, which will include start and finish times, how prayer requests are being handled, reminding the women that what is said in small group stays in small group, etc.  Then in the 2nd meeting give a quick recap.  No need to repeat at every study night.  Revisit if new members join the group.
  • Watch the Video/Teach the Lesson – if you are watching a video, you know exactly how much time it will take (it is usually printed in the jacket sleeve of the DVD).  If you are teaching the materials, watch the clock to ensure you leave time for discussion.
  • Prompt the discussions, being mindful to not take over the time talking yourself (which can happen with teachers, ha!) or that others in the group do not monopolize the discussion time.  Ask specific people questions, make eye contact to feel out if someone has something to offer, and help guide the conversation along.
  • Close in Prayer – In the closing prayer I like to include asking for protection over our church, the women in attendance, and those who didn’t make it for that evening.

In between study group meetings, I like to send email reminders if there is something the women need to do before we meet up again.  You can also use this email to remind the snack volunteers, do the assigned “homework”, any immediate prayer requests that can’t wait until the next group meeting, church announcements that might be important, etc.

So what makes the small group “effective”, since that sounds like any old meeting?  Being intentional.  I’ve been to many a meeting in the corporate world, spending 30+ minutes discussing something that could have been said in an email.  I’ve sat in small groups where so much time was spent talk about our prayers, that by the time we got to actually say them… we used up half of our meeting time.  I’ve led meetings where technical delays caused us to run behind, and I learned the hard way that I needed to arrive extra early.

What makes them effective is that everything goes so smoothly there is nothing to complain about, nothing to improve, and our goals are met.  It’s effective because it wasn’t defective.

When your small group meetings go awry, and are not effective it will be quite evident.  Word will get back to you that group thinks you are disorganized or always behind.  You will see your number of attendees drops, your regulars stop coming, or that you no longer get anyone signing up for your group.  You will see that more time is spent praying and talking than studying and you can’t finish in your allotted number of weeks.  You will run out of time, members, interest, and find yourself questioning “why do I even bother”.

If you are meeting your goals, if your group members stay put, if your group is growing in number, if your group is growing in their walk…. then you are running an effective meeting.

The final installment in this series will address some great questions that were emailed in about this topic, and will be posted on July 5th.  If you have a question and did not submit it yet, pop over to our series intro and submit your question now!