Team Series: Second In Command

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Team Series:  The 2nd in Command by Gena McCown

One of the first tasks any good leader should do is to find, appoint, equip, and build up second in command.  A President has a Vice President, executives have junior executives, even Pastors have Associate Pastors or Elders they can call on.  Why is this an important role to fill on your ministry team? 

What if the Lord removed you from your Women’s Ministry right this second?  What would happen?

A family emergency takes you unexpectedly out of town.  One of your children become hospitalized.  Your spouse gets reassigned and you have to move this weekend.  You are threatened with a health crisis of your own.

Any number of things can happen that will unexpectedly pull us away from our ministry work, sometimes it is temporary and other times it is not.  Could your team function in your absence?  I’ve always felt the mark of a good leader is that their absence is not noticed. 

I have been on a team where this happened, and we were left scrambling.  It wasn’t that she was a bad leader, in many ways she was a great leader.  However, she had never taken any one under her wing to serve as a second in command.   When she left, we had a lot of plans on the calendars but none of us knew all the background info that she had been working on.   There we many decisions that needed to be made and a weight of uncertainty in the air.  Had there been someone working directly under her, who had knowledge of these details… it would have been a much easier process.

There are primary two ways you can work with a second in command, the first is similar to a hierarchy structure. This leader in training is kept up to date with the details of the ministry, but doesn’t have any more power than other members of the team.  You will walk them through the ropes of running the ministry, but you hold all executive power in the final decision making.  Their purpose is to be ready to take over the reigns of the ministry, should the time come.  

The second way is as a Co-Leader, this woman will have a bit more power/pull/weight to her opinion than other team members.  She may not have the ultimate say when it comes to the ministry decisions, but her opinion carries greater influence.  Her role is to slip in and out of leading the group as needed.  This is the woman who can fill in while the leader is on vacation, or take over for a matter of few months when a leader is going through a crisis.  In a large ministry, you may even have more than 1 co-leader and even give them particular team members that they oversee. 

In both cases the Women’s Ministry Leader is responsible for developing these future leaders to take over her job.  However in the case of a Leader in Training, this is your ace in your back pocket that you bring out only when you need to.  Whereas a Co-Leader has a far more active role in the ongoing ministry work.

A Second in Command Leader Should:

  • Have a heart for women’s ministry in the church and community.
  • Dedicated to the church, and exhibit a solid relationship with Christ.
  • She should be trainable, you don’t need a person with experience.
  • Dependable, showing up to meetings regularly and completes her tasks.
  • Shares ideas that will help the ministry function better.
  • Excited by serving others.

What She Should Know:

  • Keep her up to date on the ministry finances.
  • Location of important documents, passwords, keys, codes, etc.
  • Contact information and details associated with event planning.
  • Overview of information pertinent to the Women’s Ministry from staff meetings or the Pastor (only information pertinent to WM, please).
  • Access to team members contact information.
  • Overview of meeting agendas in advance, and what are her meeting responsibilities.

In the past, Women’s Ministry Leaders have created binders full of important ministry information that could be passed like a baton to incoming leaders.  Now, we can share documents online via google documents (if you have a gmail account).  This helps leaders stay connected, work and update tasks between meetings, etc.  If you are interested in starting a Women’s Ministry Binder… check out Pinterest for GREAT suggestions, printable worksheets, and more.

I love to see these developing leaders active versus people I siphon information into.  So, intermittently as part of training, allow her to completely lead a meeting from start to finish.  You can work her up to this by giving her small responsibilities and increasing them over time.  Give her a larger task to oversee, like planning a brunch or finding new small group leaders.  See if she has a passion for something to add into the ministry that you can put her at the helm, like a prayer ministry or mentoring program.

While it is great to have a second in command who has a similar ministry vision as you, it’s also great to bring someone along side you that has new ideas to bring to the table.  You may wish to strategically develop a younger woman, select a woman who is transitioning out of another ministry leadership role (previous MOPS Leaders are great for future Women’s Ministry Leaders), or you could find someone that just has a HUGE heart for women.  While experience isn’t necessary, their level of experience will determine how much time you need to spend developing their skills.

We can predict when a changing of the guard is going to happen, but when it is within our ability we should make sure this woman is fully ready to assume command of the ministry before we retire or voluntarily step down.  You can begin by steadily increasing her leadership, while culling your leadership back.  This also makes for an easier transition for your team members who have served loyally with you over the past years.  Give your team members advanced notice that you are planning to step down in a few months and that you are transitioning the new leader into place.  When they come to you with questions or concerns  funnel them toward the new leader instead of dealing with it yourself.  You are not only training a new leader, but the team to trust her leadership.

If you plan on still serving with the Women’s Ministry after stepping down form leadership, I recommend taking a few months off.  Allow the women to get accustomed to serving under the new leadership, and then ease yourself back in.  Leaders leave a legacy even when they don’t intend to, and it can take time for members to adjust to a different leadership style and new ideas.  Change is hard, even in ministry service.

Women’s Ministry: Reaching a Younger Generation

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When speaking with Women’s Ministry Leaders from across the country, I have found many of us share similar struggles in the ministry.  One of which is reaching out to the younger generation of women.  Titus 2:3-5 explicitly calls the older generation of women to teach the younger generation, but how can we do that if they don’t even seem interested to learn from us?

There are several ways in which we CAN engage the younger generations coming behind us, it just requires stepping out of the women’s ministry box that we have become accustomed to serving in.

~ Start a MOPS ministry at your church, for the moms with young children.  Quite often this is the group we are trying to reach, but we are failing to offer what they desperately need at this time in their life.  A MOPS group is not only a great way for the women to be able to build community amongst themselves, but the older women of the church can serve as mentor moms.  This is a position within the MOPS structure that assigns 5-8 mothers to a mentor mom, who is there to share her wisdom and life experience with them.  She is an encourager, accountability partner, and prayer warrior for these young women navigating a new season of life.

~  Volunteer as a chaperone to youth events, especially ones for the teen girls.  This establishes a relationship between the women’s ministry and the teen girls who will one day be a part of it.  It lets them know that the women of the church care for them, fosters relationships at an earlier age, and it also keeps the women serving on the women’s ministry team in touch with the how the world is treating our young ladies. 

~  Start a SUB Women’s Ministry for the 20-35 age group.  When we reflect on our Women’s Ministry calendar of activities, we may find that in our attempt to provide activities and speakers for the general population of the women in our church… we are failing to provide anything that interests the younger generation of women.  We may find it is easier to allow them to group together than to try and force them into the existing women’s ministry program.  The younger group of women may be more interested in going to see speakers, Christian concerts, or even taking weekend retreats.  Whereas your older women in the church are tied down to staying locally, having their kids in bed by a certain time, or job expectations. 

~ Intentionally add 1-2 women who represent the younger body of women into your women’s ministry team.  They will bring a vault of new ideas, and an insight to what the 20-35’s are looking for out of a women’s ministry.  If you can’t find anyone for the team yet, at least consider speaking to a few of the influential women of that age group for their opinion.

~ Engage a “connector” from that group to come to Women’s Ministry events.  A “connector” is that women in the church that carries influence.  If she is attending an event, others will attend too.  Let her know outright that you are attempting to engage more of the young women into the women’s ministry and you covet her support and influence. 

Women’s Ministries want to have their younger generations apart of their activities and church life.  It is easy to throw in the towel, when you think they are simply disinterested in what the ministry has to offer.  When we step out of the box, we can look at the situation with fresh eyes.  Is there a change that need to be made in the ministry?  Or, is there a better way we can serve them until they are ready?