Women are inherently emotional creation, emotional in how we connect with others and respond to the situations we are in. Men work on a different level, entirely. It’s why you can meet for your women’s study group every week and wish you could meet more often; yet your husband might be content with meeting once a month to check in with the guys. It is for this reason, emotional connection, the Women’s Ministry Council has a heart for building up a broad view of Women’s Ministry.
Brunches are great, as they fulfil our need to connect personally with others. Yet, they often lack deep instruction. Bible Studies are a great way to find instruction and wisdom. Yet, they often have a changing of attendees that prevents real relationships from forming. Small Groups, of set members who change study materials, may create a community; but too often those community groups can close out new people who bring their own wisdom and value.
A Women’s Ministry that solely relies on monthly brunches is not going to a have a long term deep impact on the spiritual growth of women in their church.
A Women’s Ministry that solely relies on Bible Studies and Small Groups is not going to connect the women in corporate worship and instruction.
We must strike balance.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
~ Hebrews 10:23-25
The same can be said about how diverse our ministries are. A Women’s Ministry that sits in the safety of the programs and offerings it has always provided is going to continue bringing like minded women. However, it will be a near impossibility to diversify that ministry program to include a broader representation of your church or community.
During the last WMC meeting, one point that both Aimee Nelson and Jenny Andrews was made is our common identity. Before all things we are Christian women, daughters of the King. This is our common unity.
I can eat, drink, and remember how Christ changed my life… regardless of what food is on my plate or drink fills my cup. I can do this at a table in a local café, or the home of a new friend. To sit and break bread with a fellow believer sharing our testimonies with one another is a blessing beyond measure. Regardless of our skin color or backgrounds, we love the same God.
It can be difficult to facilitate change in a ministry where many area already accustomed to certain events. We cannot facilitate change if we do things the same way we have always done. Yet, if you change everything you may bring in new faces and your women already invested may leave, which doesn’t help bring people together either. Change is hard. However we can begin to implement change in smaller measures.
What if I invited a worship singer from a local African American church to sing for the worship portion of our brunch?
What if I went to a local, family owned, ethnic restaurant and catered in dinner for our next guest speaker?
What if our next speaker was born in another country?
What if our next keynote speaker at our retreat was a woman rescued from sex trafficking?
What if our next Bible Study was written by an African American author or a woman from another country?
What if we began a series of events where we brought in women from various ethnic churches in our community to learn more about who they are, what their ministry goals are, and how we can help?
You don’t have to dismantle and rebuild a ministry to bring change via a total overhaul. You can begin to take small steps, over time.
Eat, drink, and remember…
we are all precious in His sight.
Panel Moderator: Gena McCown Panel Contributors: Jenny Andrews, Aimee Nelson
PLEASE NOTE: We allowed questions to be submitted anonymously. We made the decision to read the question as it was written, we were not going to adjust the questions at all. This kept our session authentic. We all agreed to receive the questions with grace, and good intentions. However, the answers may have been adjusted as this is a learning opportunity.
The first question was missed, which was what is the correct terms to refer to people of other races/ethnicities. The answer begins with the uniqueness we have in S. FL as we are an entry point and home to many first generation immigrants. In S. FL. African American does not apply to everyone who has dark skin. The audio carries on the answer defining the various ethnicities we encounter in S. FL and the rest of the questions.
Unfortunately we were moved outside for the meeting, which inhibited our ability to video the panel, and hit the audio with some unexpected noises. Praise God we have this to share with those who couldn’t attend.
We have decided that this subject is going to be continued in future discussions.
During my trip to The Gospel Coalition Conference this year, I had an opportunity to meet with a mentor via Serge.org . This mentoring session was very fruitful for me personally, but I also wanted to share more about something that was repeated a few times throughout the conference.
It was a reminder to us as leaders that we must preach the Gospel to ourselves daily. But why?
Through my Serge.org mentor, I was introduced to the idea that leaders can get so caught up in the success and failure model in regards to ministry that we can forget the Gospel.
Have you ever said or thought:
Well, I must be doing a good job because God has blessed our ministry with success.
God must be blessing our work, because He has been providing for our needs.
The Lord’s blessing must be on our ministry, because we have seen an increase in numbers.
I must be doing something wrong, I just can’t seem to get any momentum on this project.
The Lord’s favor must not be on this ministry, because we are not growing… we are shrinking.
What is the problem with these thoughts?
They are works based, not faith based. They imply that success or failure is a result of God being pleased or displeased with something we are doing. Scripture says that the Lord’s favor falls on righteous and the unrighteous alike, that he raises the sun on the good and evil each day (Matt 5:45,46).
When we run our ministry under the measure of success and failure based on our perception of God’s favor; we are suggesting that we (individually, as a team, as a church) are doing something that God will reward, or God will withhold from.
There is no freedom when you are bound up measuring your ministry by success and failure. That is a worldly measurement. Instead our freedom lies in that we are adopted children of God, before we are leaders. We have His favor because He has given it to us according to His goodness, regardless of how well we run our ministry. He loves us. Plain and simple.
When we love Him, and seek to do His will…
When our eyes are set on Him, and our Hearts are in tune to His heart…
When we become His hands and feet…
We serve and we serve well, whether we are serving one woman or one thousand.
When we allow ourselves to get trapped in the success failure model, when things are going well… we feel good. We feel in God’s favor, we feel as if we are pleasing Him, we feel joy and hopeful. On the other hand, when our ministry is in a valley and we feel like a failure, then we don’t feel good at all. We feel like we have disappointed God, or that we are doing something wrong that He wouldn’t reward our work and ministry. We can even take on guilt that others are not being blessed because of our failure.
We can get so buy sharing the Gospel to others, that we can forget the Gospel is meant for us. The Freedom of the Cross is a gift for us, too. So, as much as we need to share the Gospel with others and we can do this through our ministry (in fact, it should be our primary goal)…
… we must share the Gospel with ourselves every morning.
The success or failure of my ministry work has nothing to do with God’s love for me or approval.
His love for me existed before I was in my mother’s womb, and will exist through eternity. Nothing can separate that.
Ministry work is the icing on the cake, where we celebrate the Gospel with others.
By Gena McCown, Women’s Ministry Council Co-Founder
Mentorship is important, it is something that the Women’s Ministry Council has encouraged through our meetings and website articles. When we can put together formal mentoring programs in our Women’s Ministries, we are equipping the women in the church and it trickles outward to those who are in their sphere of influence.
As leaders, we need mentoring as well. While it may be harder to meet with a mentor on a weekly basis, as we juggle the balance between home life, work life, and ministry life; mentorship is not something to be neglected. Your mentor may be the overseeing Pastor, a Pastor’s wife, an older woman in the church, or even a Women’s Ministry leader hundreds of miles away that you connect with periodically.
Mentors serve as a landing place where we can not only talk about the practical ins and outs of ministry work, but where we can also come to face some uncomfortable truths. At the beginning of April, I attended The Gospel Coalition conference. As part of the conference, there were a few opportunities to attend other events. One was a breakfast event, sponsored by Serge.org, for Pastors and ministry leaders. In addition to listening to two amazing speakers, everyone had the opportunity to sign up for a one hour mentoring session with a Serge Mentor.
My intentions were to take advantage of the mentor opportunity in reference to the future of the Women’s Ministry Council. I signed up with a mentor who had experience as a Pastor, in the mission field, and organizational backgrounds. We began our conversation with my sharing about what the Women’s Ministry Council is and the long term vision for the ministry; where we were at currently and some of the obstacles we are facing. I was looking for someone who would give me practical ideas to overcome those obstacles.
What I got was someone who was more interested in ME and less about what I was doing. He asked questions like:
Then he hit me with a hard punch…. “I want you to close your eyes and imagine God talking to you right now, what would He say to you?”
I wasn’t prepared for that question. Or, what my answer would mean. I was grateful for the conversation that would come from it. This is what a mentor does, it’s not just about practical steps and problem solving, but an investment in the person. Asking the questions, getting to the deeper issues, being able to see what may not be obvious to the other person.
This is also why, as leaders, it is important that we have a mentor speaking into our life. Peers are great for accountability, but mentors are speaking from experience. Whether you have a regularly weekly meeting or a quarterly check in session, mentors help us see beyond the obvious from a neutral position. This is why it is best to have someone who is not directly involved with the ministry work.
The Pastor that oversees the ministry can give you perspective from the outside looking in and within the parameters of the church vision. A long term (or retired) Women’s Ministry leader in another state can speak to you from experience. A neutral third party may help you see beyond the actual ministry and how the work is affecting your life. Prayerfully consider how having a mentor involved in your life will not only bless YOU but also those you lead.
Recently, an acquaintance of mine shared that a young woman in her church had a miscarriage. I was reminded of this wonderful ministry, Hope Mommies. We’ve shared this ministry with our local leaders, and I wanted to take a moment to revisit it here.
From their website:
Hope Mommies™ is a 501(c)3 non-profit Christian organization who sole purpose is to come alongside moms and families who have experienced infant loss, bringing comfort, encouragement, companionship, and hope as they continue to walk this side of eternity without their beloved son or daughter.
Hope Mommies helps these mothers and families through various methods:
Directly: A mother who has experienced loss is gifted a Hope Box, which contains personal gifts items, book, journal, and more. It’s not just a sweet gesture to let her know you are thinking about her, but the contents are tools that can help her cope with the loss. You can pay to have a Hope Box sent directly to a woman you know, who has experienced loss. Or, you can donate a box that Hope Mommies will distribute on your behalf.
Community: You can direct moms who have experienced loss to their online community, or as a leader you can lean into this community to learn how you can better serve the women in your church who have lost an infant or young child. Or, you can host a Community Group in your church; providing a safe place for women in your church or in your local community to find others who have walked this road. A place to heal, lean, and love.
Annual Retreat: You can sponsor a woman in your community to attend the Hope Mommies Annual Retreat, or as a Women’s Ministry take on this as a cause that your ministry will financially support.
Ministry Cause: Consider hosting a gathering event at your church, where your Women’s Ministry team or women in the church assemble Hope Boxes to deliver to your local hospitals to distribute when a woman in your community loses a child. You may also build connections with your local OBGYN and Pediatrician offices and distribute boxes through their facilities as well.
Prayerfully consider if Hope Mommies is a needed ministry in your area.
Leaders are consistently pouring out into others, it is what we have been called to do. To teach, lead, support, encourage, help one another, and whatever else the Lord calls us to. As we pour out into others, it is important that we are being poured into by others.
In the past, when we have discussed mentoring and discipleship at our live meetings, we have shared with the leaders that mentors also need mentors. This is one way in which we can be poured into. But, there are also other ways that leaders can take intentional steps to ensure they are being poured into. Empty pitchers need to be filled. If they are not refilled, they can no longer pour into the cups they serve.
Here Are Some Suggestions to Fill Up Your Empty Pitcher:
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
– Psalm 46:10 NIV
Quite often in leadership we find ourselves always on the go, moving forward, advance our Kingdom work. We can spend hours scouring the internet tracking the trends of Women’s Ministries across the country. We can invest our time and money in books to better ourselves as leaders. We can even meet quarterly with Women’s Ministry leaders in our community to create a council of leaders who share their wisdom and experience. Movement, growth, and study is a beautiful thing. It’s not always the best thing. There are times, even we as leaders, need to find stillness and listen to the voice of God.
We may need to stop the online searches, put down the books, and pick up the Word and let it speak life into our personal walk, families, and our ministry. What if the Lord doesn’t want your ministry to follow the ministry trends but instead innovate a new way to minister to women? Have you considered that the Lord may be trying to take your ministry focus off solely serving the women in your church and instead opening the doors to the women in your community? Or, has your ministry taken priority in your life over your family commitments and relationships; and it’s time to add more people to the team or reevaluate your ministry goals?
If we are too busy listening to other voices, we can disrupt our ability to hear the Holy Spirit speaking. There is a season to work and toil, but there is also a season to be still and listen. A time to be still and know that He is God, and He will order our steps.
Have you ever wondered what is happening in your community? What businesses exist? Which ministries are working alongside the community? Who are people of influence in your area? I have. So, this week I stepped out on faith and attended a local business “branding” event.
I don’t have a business, I actually know a bit about branding, and yet I just knew that I had to give this luncheon an opportunity. I learned about it through a sponsored post that was on my Facebook page. I knew absolutely no one attending, and I had no idea what I was walking into but hey… I like lunch. That’s a win, right?
By the time I walked out of there, I learned of three local ministries in our area that I could connect our Women’s Ministry leaders to. I also was able to help another ministry with a resource that could help her cause. Another ministry offered me a few solution ideas that I had not considered as we grow our ministry. I even learned a tidbit about branding that I am going to be employing with the Women’s Ministry Council.
Talk about a win! If you are trying to find ministries or organizations that your Women’s Ministry can work with, consider a networking event. Or, if you are a ministry or organization in need of support from local businesses… consider a networking event. Ask around, search on Facebook, and I’m certain you will find one in your area.
I don’t know any leader who doesn’t actively seek to improve their skill set. We dig into books, internet articles, and discussion with other leaders to better ourselves. Hours can be spent looking at ministry trends, taking leadership assessments, and digging through the scriptures to identify what a good leader is and does. We invest in our time in conferences and workshops, we seek to the best with the job God has assigned for us.
One of the things I have been focusing on lately, however isn’t the stuff I add into my leadership repertoire but instead the foundations I began with. As leaders we are to be an example to those we lead, and sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our ministry work we can begin to drop the ball. It’s easy to excuse those moments because we have all of this leadership work to do, right?
If I want to lead well, I must begin within. I must lead myself, well.
I must lead myself to church each weekend.
I must lead myself to spend time in the Word, regularly.
I must lead myself to talk with God through prayer.
I must lead myself to relationships with other believers that will strengthen me.
I must lead myself to still waters, quietness where I can HEAR the Lord.
I must lead myself to tend to my household, my husband, and my children.
Recently, a leader shared this statement with me:
You can not lead where you do not go, you cannot lead in what you do not know.