Hospitality to Pastors & their Families

Naima

If you have been a member of a church for any length of time, you will have experienced the welcoming of a new Pastor or staff member to your church.   A Pastor search is such a process that for many of us we are as relieved as we are excited about welcoming this new person or family into our body of believers.  For the incoming Pastor and family, this could have been a long road too, waiting for God to guide their steps to your door.  Excitement and anxiousness combined, they are walking into a family of believers that they barely know.

My sister in Christ, co-laborer in the faith, Naima Johnston-Bush and her husband answered such a call.  They packed up their house in Florida and set off for Leesville First Assembly of God, in Kingdom service.  To my joy, on a Monday morning, I woke up to this picture and her words:

Naima

Our first Sunday at our new church and the ladies Ministry gave me an old fashioned “pounding”. They pounded me with God’s love and blessed our home with lots of great cleaning supplies, canned goods and boxed items. I won’t need cleaning supplies for the next six months.   ~Naima Johnston-Bush

First, I just want to shout out to the Women’s Ministry at Leesville for welcoming a family so beautifully.  Thank you for the love you showered on my friend.

Second, when I saw this picture… knowing we were heading into the topic of hospitality… I immediately asked permission to share.  THIS is such a wonderful way to display hospitality to new Pastors, Staff Members, and their families.

In all of my years in the church, I’ve seen plenty of people showered with gifts as they were leaving.  Moves, retirements, volunteers called into fulltime ministry or missions elsewhere, etc. have been opportunities to thank people for dedicated service to our church body and an encouragement and provision for those stepping out in faith.

I am not sure I’ve ever seen this kind of outpouring on someone who was coming into the body.  It may be possible things like this were done quietly among the existing staff members, gift cards and helping unpack.  In this occasion, it was the Women’s Ministry who stepped up and said how can we bless this new home?

It brought me to question how do we as Women’s Ministries let the women who are leading in our churches know that we appreciate them?  But also, ask myself, are we doing a good job welcoming in the wives and children that packed up everything and walked away from their friends and family in order to follow their husband’s call in to ministry?

For the last several years, I have participated in a group of Pastor’s wives (even though I am not one) in order to have a better understanding of how ministry affects the wives and family of Pastors.  I’m so thankful that the group welcomed me in, even though I’m not a PW… because it has been eye opening.

When I hear their stories, the good… bad… and the ugly… I just know that we could be doing a better job.

So, whether you want to share here … or talk among your Women’s Ministry teams, let’s ask and discuss the following questions:

  1.  Are we showing hospitality to our Pastor and Staff wives?
  2. How do we welcome in a new Pastor and his family?  What could we do, if we are not currently doing anything?
  3. What does hospitality for these women look like long term, once they are settled or have been in the fold for years?

Good hospitality makes a person not only feel welcomed through the doors, but that we are wanted to stay for the long term.  It shows a person they are seen, loved, and makes them feel cared for.  We minister to their spirit, their hearts, their minds, and even their households when we love well.

LeadHer Conference, Are You the One?

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For the first time ever, we are planning a conference geared for women who are serving in ministry leadership.  These are small group leaders, MOPS group leaders, Women’s Ministry leaders, and more.

Statistically these are women who are volunteering to serve their churches, they are not paid staff members.  Additionally, in most cases these are ministries that receive very small budgets if any.

When we decided to host this conference, it was our goal to create an event that would:

1.  Let these leaders know that their work and efforts are appreciated, and do not go unnoticed.

2.  To put on an educational event that would not only refresh their spirits, but also educate them with information and tools that they can bring back to their ministry work.

3.  To create an event that would connect ministry leaders across denominational lines, where we all rise up together as co-laborers.

4.  Consist of a speaking team that was as diverse at the women we serve.

Recognizing that many of these women would be paying out of their own pockets, we also committed to make the event as affordable as possible.   Within the price range we set, $69 we secured our location… basic event materials… simple decor… and lunch included.  Our speaker team has generously donated their time.

However there are special things we would like these leaders to take back to their churches and ministry that will help them in to the long term.  We have negotiated special prices with vendors (60% off!) but we still need to raise the funds to cover those discounted costs.

If you are a supporter of women who serve in the church, have been a woman who led in the church and wishes you would have had access to such an event, or you have a business/organization that would like to officially support our event at a level you can afford… please consider giving to this campaign.

We will be sure to acknowledge any one who supported this event publicly, unless you choose to give anonymously.  At which point we will still acknowledge our anonymous givers collectively.

REGISTER:   www.LeadHerConference.com

SPONSOR:  https://leadherconference.com/sponsorship/

SUPPORT:  https://www.gofundme.com/leadher-conference-supporters

WMC Meetings

WeWantYou

The WMC is preparing for our March 31st local meeting in the Treasure Coast, FL.  Occasionally, we receive an email or notification asking if there is a WMC in other cities.  We’d love to see this as a reality.

If you would like to start up a WMC in your area, we are happy to help you do so.  Please visit our “Start a Group” page to request more information.

And don’t forget to register for the WMC’s 1st annual women’s leadership conference!

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The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell

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At this month’s live Women’s Ministry Council event, in the Treasure Coast FL, we will be giving away two copies of Kristin Schell’s book “The Turquoise Table”.

Quite simply, author Kristin Schell set out to foster community within her neighborhood by putting a turquoise painted picnic table in her front yard.  It became a place to meet and connect with her neighbors and community.

A simple step on her part became a movement as turquoise tables started popping up in yards in other communities and neighborhoods.

It compelled me to think not only about putting a turquoise picnic table in my own yard, but I thought about all of those churches that are nestled in the middle of neighborhoods and communities where people walk by.  What if these houses of worship had picnic tables in their front yards?  What if the Pastors and staff popped out there for lunch instead of eating in their offices?

Just a thought.

If you would like to learn more about Kristin Schell, or the Turquoise Table, check out her website.  You can order the book, print a getting started checklist, and more.

The Welcome Wagon

Struedel, scones, even apple pandowdy!

Once upon a time, when a person would move into a neighborhood they would be met by the Welcome Wagon.  Usually a few neighbors would whip up some dishes and pop on by to meet the new family.  The food was an olive branch, a gift to help ease the moving in process by eliminating the need to make meals for the first few days.  Eventually meals became a cake, plate of cookies, or a cute little house plant.  The sentiment was the same, the gift was merely an excuse to meet the new family and welcome them to the neighborhood.

Just as much as the family wanted to make a good impression as they moved into their new house… the neighborhood was equally as concerned with making a good impression too.  The neighbors wanted to make sure that the new residents found the neighborhood to be more than just suitable but instead an enjoyable place to live and raise a family.

As time as passed, in many areas the Welcome Wagon is a thing of history.  In the six times I can remember moving during my lifetime, I’ve never actually experienced a Welcome Wagon.  In fact, in many cases months passed before I properly met neighbors.  This includes the generation who would have grown up with Welcome Wagons and neighbors being neighborly.  That’s not to say that we haven’t gotten to know our neighbors, but it certainly wasn’t as intentional or immediate.

Times changed.

When I watch movies or television and I see a group of neighbors eagerly welcoming the new residents to the neighborhood… to be entirely honest… I feel jilted.  Like I missed out on some great opportunity of friendliness and neighborly ritual.  When I find out that it still happens in some cities, I’m in full jealousy mode.  And yet, I must admit, I’ve not made the attempt to BE THAT NEIGHBOR either.  When someone new moved in to our neighborhood… I was not baking up a tray of cookies or putting together a casserole.

In some regards, we have lost our way when it comes to hospitality.

Two years ago, on New Years Eve, something shifted.  We have a family tradition for the holiday that includes an all day food smorgasbord.  It’s all our favorite junk and snack foods, and the one time of year where we put our “healthy eating” aside and indulge.  We look forward to it each year, and there is always more food than we could ever eat.  In recent years we began inviting our friends to join us, kind of an open house.  Two years ago, we stepped outside to watch the New Years Eve fireworks and our neighbors had family visiting from out of town.  This couple had brought fireworks of their own, and seeing my kids empty handed and watching from our driveway… they extended the olive branch.  As our kids ran around with sparklers and my husband lit off a few of the bigger fireworks they gave to us… I headed in the house to bring out some food to share.  We put up a folding table and the two households laughed at our kids running around … and admired the lights in the sky.

Last summer, it was 4th of July, and a new family was in the process of moving in.  They unloaded the moving truck until it was too dark.  Instead of heading inside to start unpacking, they set out some chairs to watch the fireworks, and waited for the pizza delivery guy to show up.  My youngest noticed they had two little girls, oohing and aahing over the light show.  She asked if she could take some of our sparklers and bring them to the family.  Of course I let her, remembering the kindness of our neighbors the previous year.  The little girls ran around with those sparklers as if we had given them the best gifts in the world.

Now, we have children in the neighborhood that I spoil with little gifts and trinkets.  It brings me joy to see their driveway covered in the sidewalk chalk we gave them at the start of spring break.  A neighbor down the way had a bicycle she didn’t need any longer and walked it down, offering it to my daughter.  A subtle shift has happened in our neighborhood, where neighborly hospitality is being revived.  It’s absolutely beautiful.

Maybe you too have felt like hospitality has been waning.  The great news is that all is not lost.  At any given time, any given one of us, can make the choice to bring hospitality back into our lives, neighborhoods, cities, and churches.

  1.  Evaluate Your Hospitality –  Is there any plan for welcoming new faces?   If so, how is that plan working out?  Is it time to revamp it?  If there is not one, what could be done to start being more intentional about how we welcome new people into our lives or ministry?
  2. Employ the Spiritual Gifts of Hospitality – Find the people within your church who have the spiritual gift of hospitality.  Let them lead the charge in how we welcome guests, new members, families, etc.  
  3. Put Out the Welcome Mat – Ensure that your church, ministry, or organization is giving the impression that guests are welcome.  When someone comes knocking at the door, who is going to invite them in?  Do you have a welcome committee who can direct them on where to go, or how to find information?
  4. Seek Out the Community – Hospitality isn’t only about serving those who are knocking on our doors, but also extending an invitation to the community.  We do this by reaching out and serving in the community, outside of our church walls.  Meeting people, learning about those who live around us, and inviting them to visit.
  5. Create Comfort – Hospitality is a welcoming invitation to the stranger, a welcome mat for the visitor, and creating a safe place for the resident.  Once a guest becomes a member we need to ensure they feel as welcome and valued as they did when they first arrived.

Have a Welcome Wagon or Committee for your church, ministry, or organization.  Let them use their gifts in this area to help create, foster, and build a solid plan for making sure people feel welcome and cared for in your space.

Proverbs 31 Hospitality

the sparks between us will

In the Proverbs 31 “Virtuous Woman” verses (10-31) we witness several examples of hospitality.

If we limit our thinking of hospitality to serving strangers, we are only recognizing a fraction of what it means to be hospitable.  One definition of the word is to be friendly and welcoming of strangers and guests.  However, the second part of the definition is an environment that is pleasant and favorable for living in.

Hospitable to Her Husband (Proverbs 31:11,12)

She has created and fostered and environment where her husband feels safe, cared for, and happy.  He has complete trust in her, and therefore can relax in her presence.

Hospitable to Her Household (Proverbs 31:14,15)

She provides good, choice foods for her household (husband, children) and this includes her servants.  She is caring for all of them, making anyone who is in her household feel welcomed and valued.

Hospitable to the Less Fortunate (Proverbs 31:20)

Whether they are needy in spirit, health, or wealth… she extends her arms out to them.  The wording implies that she seeks them out by stretching out her arms or reaching out her hands.  She doesn’t wait until they show up on her door step and ask for her help, but instead she seeks these people out.

Hospitable with Her Words (Proverbs 31:26)

The Proverbs 31 woman speaks with wisdom AND kindness.  She is not boastful or cold, but those who know her welcome what she has to say because of her reputation.  

A virtuous woman knows the value of being hospitable not only to the people who she meets in the community or in her church, but foremost to her own family.  She creates a safe landing place for her husband and children to retreat to.  She has built a reputation and a home that has an open door to those who are in need.  It is a foundation in her life that begins within the walls of her own house and then extends out into the community from there.  

 

An Acts 2 Ministry ….

What is anActs Ministryin an Acts Church

Over the last few weeks we dove into Acts 2 to learn what an Acts 2 Church is, and then we applied that information to the ministries within the church.  What does an Acts 2 Ministry look like?  Five main points were:

  1.  An Acts 2 Ministry is Consistent.  It meets regularly, in expected ways, in order to establish new habits that will replace the old.  It isn’t about creating a full calendar to make a ministry look big or successful, but rather about creating a full calendar that our members or those we serve can be intentional about carving time in their schedule to be in community with fellow believers.  It also provides regular opportunities to invite others.
  2. An Acts 2 Ministry is a Teaching Ministry.  This ministry teaches the women how to transform their minds to think to God’s ways first.  Whether it be a devotional at the beginning of a fellowship event, Bible Studies, workshops, conferences, etc.
  3. An Acts 2 Ministry Fellowships with One Another.  An Acts 2 Ministry isn’t about quick, once a week/month, check ins with each other.  It is about building community, binding us to one another in deep connections, and walking through life with one another.  The lone sheep is far more vulnerable to attack than the ones packed into a tight flock, under a Good Shepherd.
  4. An Acts 2 Ministry is a Praying Ministry.  From the leadership down, an Acts 2 Ministry is united in prayer.  As fellowship connects our lives, prayers allow us to worship God with each other.  As we pray in thanksgiving for His blessings, as we cry out for His intervention, and when we stand in the gap… praying for those who have lost the words in their grief; prayer connects us to God and each other in a very personal way.
  5. An Acts 2 Ministry Worships Together.  Not only by lifting our voices in song, but in our obedience, our prayers, our teaching, our fellowship… we are worshipping God together.

Something that stood out, as each point was developed, was this final component…

An Acts 2 Ministry is Led by Example.  

Each of the five points begins with the leaders setting the example and the expectation.

Our leadership must be consistent.  We can’t have a revolving door of leaders who try to reinvent our ministries every year.  Leaders must also be meeting regularly to discuss the progress of the ministry, make plans, and keep each other focused and accountable on God’s purpose for the ministry.  Leaders must be in consistent alignment with the church they serve under, and most importantly with God’s Word.

Our leaders should be open to teaching.  Either by teaching others, or a willingness to be students; sometimes both.  Not everyone is called to teach the Word of God in front of a large classroom or small group.  However, the Great Commission calls us to go out and make disciples and teach them.  Every leader should have the ability to share the Word, whether it be in one on one conversations, participating or leading in small groups, or larger events/workshops.  Some will be gifted to teach formal theology and some will be gifted to teach by example of living a Christ filled life.

Our leaders should be fellowshipping, with those they serve and with one another.  The Disciples spent a lot of time with Jesus, but also with each other.  In their fellowshipping, they were able to teach one another, rebuke one another, hold each other accountable.  They loved each other like brothers, and even in their disputes reconciled.  We set the example for Christian fellowship for others.

Our leaders should be praying.  In our own personal lives, whether it is audible prayers or prayer journaling… again we are setting the expectation and the example.  If this is an area where we lack confidence, we still set an example as we seek out ways to improve our prayer life & share with others how we have grown.

Finally, our leaders should ever be in a posture of worship.  Others will watch how leaders respond when times are good, and even more so when times are difficult.  I remember once going through a difficult time, and I had to make some hard decisions.  A few days later, I was speaking with a friend who was aware of the situation, and she made a comment about seeing me at church that Sunday.  She said that I walked as if a load had been lifted off my shoulders.  She was trying to understand how in the midst of this chaos I seemed so unburdened by it.   She saw something I didn’t even realize was apparent, and this created a beautiful opportunity to talk about faith and trust.. even in the trials and the storms.

Leaders, you are the tone… lead by examples… and set the expectations for those whom you are in charge.  Lead well.