Team Series: Hospitality

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Team Series:  Hospitality by Gena McCown

Hospitality is probably one of the most beautiful words in the English language, especially if you are a Southern Girl.  Hospitality smells of fresh brewed coffee on the other side of an unlocked door, where the mat says “Always Welcome”.  It reminds me of a time where friends just stopped by to shoot the breeze, and inviting people into our home was a regular occurrence.  Women gathered around the kitchen table or in the livingroom, bibles open and snacking on homemade lemon bars.  Sweet Tea on the back porch as we prayed over each other.  My Great Aunt’s perfumed powder wafting across the nose of every woman she greeted with a hug as they crossed her threshold.

Hospitality is what makes us feel welcomed into a space, warm and relaxed… at home. 

There are some women who are simply PRONE to hospitality, it is their genetic code.  They will look for ways to invite people into their home.  Quick to volunteer to host a luncheon or meeting.  There will always been enough food, and drinks.  The bathroom will smell of fresh dried lavender.  There will be a chocolate mint on every pillow at the retreat center.  She lives to make people feel special, and loved. 

This woman is important to your Women’s Ministry, this is a role to be on your top priority to fill. Why?

Hospitality Leaders are:

  • Women of influence.  Typically if they go to an event, they bring and encourage others to come too.  My Pastor’s wife calls them “connectors”.
  • Genuinely are excited to see every woman who enters the room, and make it a point of meeting the new faces.
  • Generous with their homes and time.
  • Quick to organize meals for the sick, new moms, new families, etc.
  • Find joy in the details of their tasks.
  • Have vast amounts of knowledge when it comes to finding locations for events from luncheons to weekend long retreats.
  • Are usually effective event planners, or at least great on event teams.
  • They have an eye for femininity that pragmatic leaders tend to lack, but those attending our events will appreciate.

Their Role in Ministry:

  • Event Planning Leader/Team – brunches, luncheons, retreats, teas, etc.
  • Meals Ministry Leader/Team – sick, new mom, etc.
  • Welcoming Committee Leader/Team – how do we welcome new women to our church?
  • Hosting Team Meetings or planning meetings (even if they are on the team)

A note of caution, women who have the gift of hospitality are often creative types.  Which means for events like retreats, you may do best to pair them with an A type personality.  One is in charge of the schedule, finding the speakers, planning the technical side of the event; the other is responsible for the meals, special touches, speaker gifts, etc.   It is important to know your women, their gifts and strengths… as well as their weaknesses.  Occasionally you have the blessing of a woman with the gift of hospitality and administration, and she’s the gal whom you can give the whole task and trust she’ll get it done. 

Women with the gift of hospitality are also typically generous and will have beautiful ideas to make women feel special and welcomed at events.  However, these special touches can impact your event budgets.  It is important to be clear with your hospitality leader the budget she has for her tasks.  I have known many of these women who would be happy to pay out of their own pockets to make up the difference, but I do generally ask them not to.  Simply because we need to keep up a budget that all team members present and future can work with.  If she supplements her budget, out of pocket, yes the event will be magnificent… but it may be hard for a future leader who replaces her to do the same.  Encourage these women to do the best they can within the agreed budget, but don’t be surprised if they “gift” a thing or two over time.

 

Team Series: Taking the Lead

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Taking the Lead, By Gena McCown

I think many of us would love to be apart of a Women’s Ministry Team in which everyone works together as a team, pulling their own weight, making decisions cohesively, and leading in turn with one another as a group effort.  However, I find that as ideal as that may sound… it is very rarely practical.  There are two reasons that have brought me to this conclusion:

  1. Every group needs that one person who can make the hard, final decision.  This is the person who has the tie breaker vote.  The person who can make decisions on behalf of the group when there is not enough time meet and discuss.
  2. As the church and ministry grow, clear distinct roles help avoid chaos and a team of women who have no idea who is responsible for what.

The conclusions came not from reading books on Women’s Ministry, but from years of personal leadership experience.  I’ve been on the “group effort” teams and also on the “structured” teams, and I assure you the latter is the one that works the most effectively and into the long term.

Sometimes, a team may start off small and so the “group effort” style seams to work well.  However, as a ministry grows that becomes less effective and even worse hard to change.  Therefore, I have always recommended that any ministry start off with the future in mind when it comes to their structure.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a team of fifteen titled women when your small church has only 30 women in the whole congregation.  What it does mean is that from the very start everyone on the team understands that they have a specific roll to play that may become more defined and even divided as the ministry grows.

The first position we need to fill is that of the Leader, the head honcho, the decision maker, and the one whom all accountability for the ministry is going to fall upon.  This leader should have the following characteristics:

  • Genuine love and concern for the faith walk of the women in the church.
  • A heart for community outreach and service beyond the walls of the church.
  • Dedication to the church, personal study and prayer life.
  • Good standing with other church leaders.
  • Ability to balance her responsibilities (home, work, ministry).
  • Organized, punctual, detail oriented, able to delegate.
  • Eyes that see the big picture, a mind that dreams Kingdom sized dreams.

A leader stands in the gap between the Church Staff and the Women’s Ministry Team.  She should care about the Church’s vision, and be in communication with the Pastor or Elder that oversees the Women’s Ministry.  As the leader, she will need to understand when to put her own desires for the ministry aside when they do not align with the vision of the Church.   She needs to be able to encourage the team to do the same in a way that is positive and beneficial.

Depending on the size of your ministry, as a leader she may be very hands on.  This leader will be serving on committees and working along side the team in various ways.  She may pick up the slack when volunteers are lacking, or wrangle up more help when needed.  Or, she may be more of a coordinator who has delegated out duties to various team leaders. Her job is to manage those leaders for the end goal. 

The Women’s Ministry Leader should be seeking and developing new team members and even her own eventual replacement.  Her heart should be open to bringing in a diversity of women with varying gifts and experiences, not creating a team of women who are exactly like her.  Discernment will help her find the women, develop their skills, and when to begin giving them more responsibilities. 

Whether she is a volunteer or considered a member of the paid staff, she has the responsibilities of ensuring the ministry is a good steward of their budget.  She will research ministry trends, ideas, and resources to help the long term growth and development of the ministry.  And, she will recognize the responsibility she has taken on for the aiding in the spiritual development of the women in her charge.

As the leader, she should make an effort to get to know her team members more personally so that she can be on the look out for signs of ministry burn out, or when their gifts are not matched the tasks they have been assigned.  She should feel comfortable correcting women on her team, but engaged in equipping these women as leaders.  She sets the tone and the example the rest of the team will follow. 

Your Women’s Ministry Leader is the face of the ministry to the church, and she will be burned with their suggestions, criticisms, opinions, and requests.  Therefore it is imperative that the team members are praying for their leader’s heart and wellbeing. 

If your ministry currently doesn’t have an official leader, prayerfully consider making that decision.  You can do so as a group, taking nominations and letting everyone vote.  You could even ask for a volunteer.  However, I would suggest as a group to come to agreement with the need of a leader.  Writing down names of those who volunteer, and then handing that list to your overseeing Pastor/Elder to make the final decision.  This can eliminate hard feelings among the team members toward each other.

Women’s Ministry Leader, The First Tasks:

  • Talk with your Pastor about the vision for the church, and how the WM can support it.
  • Build your team by assessing spiritual gifts, allow the team input into the WM vision.
  • Finalize your WM Team vision, goals, and action steps to get there.
  • Start developing your future replacement, and encouraging your team members to do the same.

Social Media Series – #1 Pinterest

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

This past week, I attended five day summit on Blogging.  It was an amazing opportunity to garner knowledge from the experience of bloggers that make a living off their blogs.  I was excited to see how it would help me in developing better content and even a financial benefit from my own personal blog.  What I didn’t expect was to take away some great information that we could use in our Women’s Ministries!

As WM Leaders, there are a LOT of questions that we get asked.

  • When is our next event?
  • Could you recommend a devotion or bible study?
  • Do you know of any GOOD Women’s Conferences?

Those are just a few of the questions that we get asked very often, but there are a slew of more personal ones too.

Wouldn’t it be nice to put all of those answers in one single place, where women can find the answers without having to pin you down after Sunday service? (Kidding!)

For most church websites, we have a limited amount of information we can include.   Many Women’s Ministries are turning to social media to serve as a point of information.  Utilizing social media platforms in this way gives the Women’s Ministry team a great way to communicate with their members, store information for future use,  and can even be used for fun.

When you set up a Pinterest account, you organize your page with pin boards.  These are like little miniature filing cabinets that you can title based on content.   You can set up a board for “Church Announcements” where you link back to the church website.  A pin board for “Community News” would be a perfect landing place for news in your community that would interest your members.  Or, create a pin board for “Christian Businesses” in your area that you can link to their websites.

You can also use the pin boards for fun things like “Crafts”, “Recipes”, “Heath & Fitness”.   For spiritual growth, create pin boards for “Bible Studies” or “Devotions”.  You could even link to your WM Facebook Group’s Events invitations, creating a WM Calendar of Events.    Have you ever had someone ask you about the worship songs from Sunday or  recent WM Event? Create a pin board.  Want to keep tabs on different organizations or ministries that your WM supports or volunteers with?  Create a pin board for that too!   It’s a limitless platform, where you can create as many pin boards as you want!

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Pinterest Boards are also a fantastic resource for the MW leaders.  We can create pin boards to store information on event planning, future studies we’d like to offer, decorating ideas, menus, themed events, products, leadership training, articles, retreat locations, and so much more.

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What I love about Pinterest is that you don’t have to choose.  If you decided to set up a Pinterest account for the women in the church to participate in, you can also use it for your WM leader team by creating “secret” boards.  First, select the “Create a board” square at the top left of your pin boards.

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A box will pop up for you to put in the details for the pin board, which contains a slider option for “secret”.  Slide to yes.  Now you have secret board that only you & those you assign as collaborators (under the slider) can see.  There is a limit to the number of secret boards you can create, so you will need to use broader terms for categorizing your team ideas.  However, it allows your pin board to serve a dual purpose.

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If you decide to create a Pinterest Account for your Women’s Ministry, please share it on our Facebook Group!  We can follow each other’s accounts and share ideas and inspiration!

Here is great outline on Pinterest for personal use, which I think is helpful.  Keep in mind, since it is a group to represent your church… use the church logo not your own personal photo for it.  Be sure to include the church website and other WM social media accounts you have registered.  You can update as needed.  If you need to, set up a gmail email account for your WM that you can use to register for social media platforms (even if you are not using it for members to communicate through).  I recommend this, because as WM leaders may change over the years, you can hand off that account information to future leaders (or other team members) without compromising your own personal accounts.

Invite the women from your church to your Pinterest Account, follow others WM Groups or Churches, and Retailers and Organizations that interest you as  WM leaders.  If you find an individual person who is posting great WM information, you can follow just that particular pin board without following their entire account.