Serving Our Single Sisters

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If you ask someone about the Singles in their church, they will often categorize them into two groups.  First are the Single Mothers, second are the Single Young Adults (college age, early twenties).  However, the Single Sisters in our church are a much broader group.

If I asked you to dig deeper, you might even expand that definition to include women who are over eighteen years of age, women who are single moms that were never married or those who are divorced, and then women in general who are divorced.

But what if I asked you to dig deeper than that?

What about our women who have never been married and are in their forties, fifties, or later in age?

What about our women who are widows?  

What if I asked you to consider our military wives, who are technically married but while their husbands are deployed they are raising their family on their own?

Or, have you considered your married women (mothers) who have husbands who are incarcerated, or in a long term rehab facility?

Our Single Sisters are the ones who are walking a journey without a partner.  Some by choice.  Some by circumstance.  They are the women who are happy and secure in their singleness, and the women who desire a partner and family.

How are we caring for our Single Sisters?  Over the next several weeks we are going to be leaning into this topic on a deeper level.  On June 30th, we will have a local Women’s Ministry Council training event with a special guest speaker on Serving Our Single Sisters.  This meeting will take place in the Treasure Coast, FL area.  Afterwards, we will wrap up this series in the first week of July.

As we begin, we ask you to examine who are the Single Sisters in your church.  Identifying them means that you are seeing them, and that is the first step in serving these beautiful women in our care.

A Word From Guest: Dr. Naima Johnston Bush

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The Women’s Ministry Council is pleased to introduce you to Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, from Refreshing Life with Naima.  Naima is a supporter of our ministry work.  If you will be attending our live training event in Florida, on June 30th, we will have a few door prizes from Naima to give away.  PLUS… expect something special from her at our LeadHer Conference on October 6th in Hobe Sound, FL.

It is summer time, and perhaps your ministry is taking a break.  This break from ministry obligations is a perfect time to lean in the Lord, seeking His guidance and direction for you personally.  Dr. Naima Johnston Bush has a few words on what hinders us & how to move beyond those hinderances.  

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4 Things That Keep You From Achieving Your God Given Dreams!

Inside of each of us is a purpose, a destiny only we can fulfill. As the cares of life encompass us we often lose sight of those original dreams that the Lord has placed in our hearts and settle for living a life of just getting by. Take a moment and ask yourself right now, are you truly living a life filled with Christ’s purpose? Are you walking in the fullness of your ministry and applying your gifts to advance the kingdom of Christ?

Most of us are not. I wasn’t. Until I quit my job in 2002 to form Broken Box Ministries. It wasn’t always easy, I didn’t have the tools, resources or information to do what I felt God was calling me to do. Furthermore, I felt that I was just too old to move forward and begin pursuing my dream. It seemed impossible…. I was so unsure of what to do or how too even do it. I needed to trust the Lord. All this is summed up in one of my favorite Tweets;

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible!”

Maybe you’re not called to quit your job and go into fulltime ministry, but you still have a dream! To start a business or nonprofit? Be a missionary? Start or grow a ministry at your church? There is a problem you are assigned to fix, something only you can accomplish! So what’s holding you back? After traveling the country and talking to tons of people I’ve discovered 4 things that keep people from achieving their God given dreams, and I’m working hard to help people overcome these issues. Ask yourself, are any of these me?

Number 1 –  Fear

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

We’re all afraid of something, but moving forward in spite of this fear is a true testament of not only courage but of faith. Perhaps you’re not moving forward to pursue that dream because you fear that God didn’t really call you to it, you’re not good enough, you don’t want to face rejection, you’re afraid it won’t work out… The list can go on and on.

Maybe you tried once and you believe you failed. But did you really fail?  Ask yourself if there was any fruit at all from the situation, did you learn anything, get closer to God, bless anyone? What we think of as failure can be a part of God’s plan for us. Just look at Thomas Edison, how many times did he fail before he got the light bulb right? Look it up… and I’m sure we can believe that electric lights were part of God’s plan!

But the first step to overcoming fear is admitting it to the Lord; then taking a step in the direction you feel He’s calling you to. You can move forward to overcome your fears. God believes in you, so you just need to believe in yourself.

Answer the following questions:

What Are Your Greatest Fears? Take these fears to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help you move past them. After praying how do you feel? Keep praying and believing and you will see change!

List five practical ways you can overcome your fears. For example if you fear you’re not good enough to do what God is calling you to do or you don’t have the ability, make a list of all the scriptures you can find that tell you who you are in Christ and what you can do through Him. Read that list daily until the Word is hidden in your heart. What other ways can you think of?

Number 2 – Lack of Resources

You may feel you can’t go forward because you don’t have the proper resources to do what you know you’ve been called to do. There is always a way to get started, even if you don’t have a million bucks in your hand. If God called you to do it, then you have what you need in your hand – Read Judges Chapter 6 and use Gideon as role model, I do!

There is one simple fact that cannot be denied when you are facing a lack of resources to move forward in your God given dream. You know someone somewhere who has what you need or knows someone who has what you need. All you have to do is pray and then ask. I’ve gotten more stuff that I’ve needed in the last few months from folks simply by asking! Staff volunteers, recording equipment, financial donations, assistance in booking just to name a few. The Word tells us to ask and we shall receive, so get to asking. And remember God’s law of reaping and sowing, if someone asks you, be sure to give it if you got it!

Answer the following questions:

What are your biggest needs to get started?

Who can you ask for assistance to get moving? List those folks:

Select a concrete date on when you’ll ask them for what you need:

Remember!

  • Don’t be afraid to ask them for suggestions if they don’t have what you need

  • Take what they are willing to give, God can do much with a little

  • Apply the 2 Step Approach, “Pray and Then Ask!”

Number 3 – You Think It’s Too Late

One of the things I hear from people is that they think it is too late for them to achieve their God given dream.  But, I believe that as long as there is breath in your body there is time to achieve some part of the dream that God has placed on your heart, for the advancement of the Kingdom.  It may be modified, it may not grow to be exactly what you thought it would be, but if you still have strength, you still have time.

I always think of Abraham and the promise that the Lord gave him and Sarah, the promise became Abraham’s dream and although he saw some of it come to pass, he didn’t see it all come into fruition. But he did what God called him to do after getting hemmed up in Egypt, messing around with his nephew Lot and having a child with the handmaid. Delays, these were delays, but they did not take the Lord by surprise! God still brought forth His promise to Abraham, his dream of being a father. In essence Abraham set the foundation for a dream that would belong to the entire world. A dream that would turn into a blessing for the whole world.

So the past does not matter, the time to start is today. What if the dream in your heart, is simply this, the foundation of a bigger dream that will meet the needs of millions of others?

Get Moving! Don’t wait another minute, the Bible tells us…

If you wait for perfect conditions you will never get anything done.

(Ecclesiastes 11: 4)

Ask yourself, what does your dream entail that you feel is limited by time? For example, what if you felt you were suppose to be a champion figure skater, you love ice skating, but now in your 40’s you’re to old to pursue that dream. But you know the Lord has placed that passion in your heart. After much prayer, you could found a ministry that reaches out to figure skaters, or arranges free lessons to children who can’t afford lessons while also training them in the truths of the Word of God. Or maybe you could become a coach’s assistant and win a future world champion to the Lord, who will then share the gospel with millions through their athletic efforts. Time does not diminish the promise of God!

Answer the following questions:

List the limitations you feel you’re facing because you feel it’s to late.

Spend some serious time in prayer asking the Lord to reveal to you how your original dream should look now. Journal those answers, then make a commitment to do one thing everyday to achieve the dream.

Number 4 – Lack of Trust

Ultimately, the real reason we don’t move forward to achieve our God given dreams is a lack of trust. We either don’t trust ourselves or we don’t trust the Lord. Nobody wants to admit that they are having trouble trusting God, but I think most of us are not even aware that we’re not trusting the Lord.

Maybe you don’t trust that you heard from the Lord and you don’t want to make a mistake. Maybe you’re not sure what the Lord is telling you to do. Maybe you don’t trust that you can do what God has called you to do. But this is where your faith must kick in. This is where you have to walk by faith. I’m sure Noah must have wondered if he was really hearing from the Lord when he began building the ark. But God had placed in his heart a dream and the dream saved the future.

The truth of the matter is if you really desire to please God, if you really want to follow Him and you start to take steps to do what He’s placed in your heart to do if you are out of order the Lord will correct you. Failures may occur, and things may not always work out like you think they should but that does not mean God has not called you to move forward in this dream.

Nothing replaces prayer and fasting and the word for getting direction from the Lord. Make up your mind that you will walk by faith and not by sight, trusting that Lord will lead you, outline the dream and lay it on the altar, pray over it, speak life over it and then begin to move forward in faith!

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

(James 2 :17)

To Build Trust:

Spend time practicing listening to and for the voice of the Lord, so that you are attuned to hearing His direction for the advancement of the dream that He has given you.

Commit each step to the Lord and ask for confirmation of those things, which He has called you to do. Get wise counsel.

Remember you can hear from the Lord for yourself, sometimes you have to just trust that you know and take a step.

Simply take a step in faith and see where God takes you!

Answer the following questions:

Give your dream a name, describe it, what is it and what does it look like?

List all of the ways that God has come through for you in the past:

Ask yourself, how is this any different?

For Further Reading: The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkerson

Remember, your God given dream is not for you alone, but for the advancement of the Kingdom, the glory of the Lord and in the service of His people. On that last day you want to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

So get cracking, the HARVEST is ripe and the LABORERS are few!

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This article is taken from: Go With What You Got, Dr. Nay’s Guide To Develop Your Dream, Pursue Your Passion and Achieve God’s Will For Your Life.   © Dr. Naima Johnston- Bush, Refreshing Life with Naima www.ministryofnaima.com
A dynamic singer, speaker, educator and author, Dr. Naima Bush uses her artistic gifts to communicate the love of Christ across the nation ministering at over 100 dates a year. Naima has written and produced her debut album entitled, Everything, her sophomore album, This Place and her latest CD, The Deeper Project. Naima is the author of Called To Sing, 13 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting In Music Ministry, Dr. Nay’s Random Life Lessons, Go With What You Got; Dr Nay’s Dream Development Manual, Confessions of a Big Girl and her newest book, Lessons from the Back Seat or How I Learned to be a Wife.
Originally from New York City, Naima holds a BA in Sociology/Women’s Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University, a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration and a PhD in Educational Foundations from The Ohio State University. Naima is the founder of The Refreshing Life with Naima, a Christian lifestyle organization dedicated to empowering women to live lives of exuberant joy, powerful prayer and sincere gratitude.
Naima is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Christian Songwriters and Musicians International, and ASCAP. Naima is an ordained minister and is married to Pastor Jon Bush, they live in New Llano, LA with their doggy children, Bianca and Bucho.  

Leadership Calendar – June 2018

June 2018

We really appreciate your patience through our technical difficulties with this month’s calendar.    We are really excited by the response to our monthly calendars, they are our most visited and revisited posts!  As always, we have created it in a coloring sheet style that you can add your own flair too.  Use the comment section below to share ideas you think we should include on future calendars.  

Past calendars can be found on our download & printables page.

Hospitality Starts with a Warm Welcome

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When we think of the word “hospitality” we think of the way in which we serve people.  There is an entire industry related to hospitality, from hotels and event planners to meals, transportation, and entertainment.  It is a service we provide to others that allows them to enjoy the space.

So where does hospitality begin on in our ministries?  It happens long before the events and studies that make up our ministry calendar.

It begins with a warm welcome.

Women who are visiting your church for the first time, either for a Sunday Service or Women’s Ministry event, need to feel welcome in the space from the moment they arrive.  What can we do as ministry leaders to ensure our guests feel welcome?

An Easy to Navigate Space:  Your visitor needs easy access to parking, clear signage on where to enter the building for the service/event, and signs or people to guide them once in side.  Several years ago, I attended an event at a local church.  This church had multiple buildings and parking lots.  There was not a single sign that indicated which parking lot entrance to use, or which building the event was being held in.  During the lunch break, there was an announcement on where the lunch was being served without any direction at all.  There was almost an assumption that everyone at the event either attended the church or was a guest of someone attending, and could find their own way.  They forgot that this event was also publicized on the radio and on the website for the larger ministry hosting events nationwide.  

Never assume your church or even location is easy to navigate, just because it makes sense to you.  Always assume that your guests will need signs or people to help them find their way to the main spaces, bathrooms, event spaces, child care, etc.

Easy Access to Information:  Some guests are very eager to meet people, and not afraid to ask a million questions.  Your more introverted guests will be more timid.  By ensuring that the basic information on the women’s ministry is listed in the New Guest packet, you are extending an invitation to women to find out more.  If you have an information desk or wall, where ministries can post more detailed information, having a sign or invitation cards for your next event will make sure guests know they are welcome to your events.  This also includes having information about your women’s ministry on your church website.

At minimum, guests should be able to have access to the contact information for the women’s ministry, current Bible Studies or Small Groups, and information on your upcoming event(s).  Also consider having  an occasionally informal breakfast to get to know new women in the church.  This doesn’t need to be a potluck brunch, but could be at a local restaurant where everyone pays for their own meal.  

When we make sure to let women know they are welcome at our next event, they know that we are not a closed clique of women but rather a group with arms opened wide.

Help Her Meet People:   Guests, particularly returning guests, will want to get to know more women in the church.  Too often, it’s easy to fall back on the “stand up and introduce yourself to the group” activity.  However this can be overwhelming for the introvert, and frankly even with the best of effort… it’s hard to remember all these new names and facts.  Instead, use the women’s ministry team to divide and conquer introducing new women ot the rest of the body.  If each women’s ministry team member takes time to get to know these new guests individually, they can then make very intentional introductions to members in the body who share similar interests, have children of the same ages, etc.

This far more intentional introductions will actually help foster relationships and is a warmer welcome than throwing the woman into the spotlight before a large group.   

Hospitality Never Ends:  Being hospital as guests walk through your doors for the first time is just the beginning.  Hospitality is something that continues on as part of our ministry work.  We are hospitable when we open our homes to small groups and playdates, when we answer calls and take time to get to know people better, and into our events as we make sure that everyone feels wanted and welcome.  When hospitality drops off, it can make our guests feel as if our initial welcoming was superficial or short lived.  Hospitality is a long term culture that needs to be cultivated and fostered.

Look for your women who have the gift of Hospitality, and bring them into your women’s ministry team to lay the foundation.  If you are a large church, you may wish to create a welcoming committee.  Otherwise, these women will be valuable additions to your team as they advise you about how to make sure your women’s ministry program and events are warm and welcoming to all who walk through the doors.

March Leadership Calendar

March

We are so excited to start sharing our Monthly Leadership Calendar!  Starting in April, this will be posted one week prior to the beginning of the month.  Use for yourself, share with your team.

The Women We Serve

The WomenWeServe

When speaking with Women’s Ministry Leaders, a very common concern is reaching a particular demographic of women.  In a church that has predominantly older women, they will desire to reach young mothers.  In a church that has a larger number of younger women (married, unmarried, kids, no kids), there is a desire to reach the older women.  More stay at home moms?  They are trying to reach the working moms.  There is a desire to be inclusive of all the women in the church, but not always the knowledge on how to do so.

The first practical change you can make begins by really knowing WHO are the women in your church, community.  Using a service like Survey Monkey or Facebook Polls in your Women’s Ministry Facebook Group (or the church page), you can put together a simple survey of less than 10 questions.  At this point it is about getting an overall picture, versus knowing each woman’s life details.   

You may want to include basic questions, such as:

  • Marriage Status:  single, married, divorced, widowed
  • Parenting Status:  single parent, co-parenting, married with kids, grandparents raising their grandchildren, foster parents, adoptive parents, step parent or blended family, military family, etc.
  • Employment Status:  full time, part time, work at home, unemployed
  • Age, either specific answer or within a range 18-29, 30-39, etc.

If you are a large church, where certain statistics are not as obvious, you may want to dig deeper.

  • Ethnicities represented in the church.
  • Education level, may be a good time to ask about formal biblical education.
  • Of the parents, how many use public school, private school, or homeschool.

In addition to this information there may be other specific questions you want to ask.  If you are a non-denominational church… you may be interested in knowing the denominational backgrounds of your women.  You may wish to know how many years they have been a Christian.  All of these questions give you a very broad overview of who you are serving, so that you can serve them better.

The second practical thing you can do, as a ministry leader, is to build a team that reflects the finding of your survey.   If you have a mixture of older and younger women in your church, so should your team.  If you have a mixture of ethnicities in your church, the ministry team should reflect that mixture.  Once you have added these women to your team you will benefit by:

  1.  Their perspective.  While certainly one woman can not speak for that entire demographic, having at least one person from that group helps key us in when planning on how our ideas impact each of the groups we serve.
  2. Their presence.  Not only does it send a message to the entire body that the ministry is inclusive, the presence of these differing women will help your leadership team broaden their own personal circles.
  3. Their influence.  When these differing women become a part of the planning process, they take ownership in the events.  Because of that ownership, especially if the event was their suggestion, they will want to ensure the success of the event.  This means the women are going to make sure to invite, and encourage to attend, the women in their circle of influence.

You cannot please all of the people, all of the time.  A healthy women’s ministry CAN please some of the people, some of the time.  A diverse ministry team, creates a diverse ministry calendar, that reaches the diverse group of women we serve in the church and the community.

What is an Acts 2 Church & Ministry?

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There is a term talked about in regard to the Church, the “Acts 2 Church”.  Before we talk about this in the terms of Women’s Ministry, let’s define what exactly that means for the Church overall.

When someone refers to an “Acts 2 Church”, they are talking about a church that it is structured based on the example in Acts 2 of the New Testament.

In a nutshell:

They were gathering regularly, dependent on the apostles teaching and leadership, selling off their materials to support the Kingdom work, etc.  This was an early church that lacked maturity and so in it’s formation they were consistent in teaching well and often.  They were supporting the work, they were taking care of one another, and fellowshipping with each other often.

Over time, as they matured, the apostles were able to disciple leaders into positions of authority to elders, deacons, and into the body of believers.  They were able to meet less frequently because they had the tools to study at home, daily gatherings moved to weekly.   They moved from selling off all their excess to setting aside money to support the work being done.  The teaching church became a missional or evangelizing church as the gentiles became members of the body.  All of this leading to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 where the apostles began to clarify the expectations of believers now that gentiles were part of the mix.  They wanted clarity so that all of the churches shared the same foundational beliefs.

Maturity took time to establish.  Establishing knowledge through regular teaching.  Establishing connection by regular fellowshipping.  Establishing the standards for giving and serving.

If I were to try and establish a Women’s Ministry (or other internal ministry, sub-ministry) in the Acts 2 Church… what would that look like if we assume the same principles would apply?

  1.  CONSISTENCY – I know that a lot of ministry leaders look at the task ahead and think we’ll start with 1 event and work from there, because a full calendar looks intimidating.  Consistency is important because it establishes habit.  There is a reason why the model of having a regularly scheduled event (like a brunch on the 1st Saturday of the month) works.  It helps the women get in the habit of gathering.  It is expected, we know… even if we don’t know the details of the event… that something is happening with the women of the church.  We can plan for that, put it on our calendars.  We teach the women how to interact with the Women’s Ministry, even if that means coming on strong at first and then scaling back.
  2. TEACHING – It is good to gather as a community, but we must not forsake the reason we are gathering.  To worship, honor, and glorify God.  This doesn’t mean that every single event has to be a deep theological college course, or workshop on systematic theology.  It does mean that there is purpose and intention behind every event that is in line with bringing people to the feet of Christ.
  3. FELLOWSHIP – We gather to as a community, a family.  Fellowship binds us emotionally to one another, aware of each other’s hurts and struggles so that we can help, able to celebrate victories and milestones as a family, and to safe guard ourselves from the temptations of the world.  The lone sheep is far more vulnerable to attack than the ones packed into a tight flock, under a Good Shepherd.
  4. PRAYER – A community that is united in consistent teaching and fellowship will result in a group that is also consistently united in prayer.  They know how and why to pray through the Word, they are compelled to pray for one another as fellowship connects their lives, and they understand that prayer is an active form of Worship.
  5. WORSHIP – A healthy community that is meeting regularly, well taught, deeply connected, and steeped in prayer will also be a community that Worships with abundance.

The lone sheep is far more vulnerable to attack than the ones packed into a tight flock, under a Good Shepherd.    

~Gena McCown

Over the next few weeks, we are going to break down those 5 points into more specific detail and application to the Church and to our Women’s Ministries.