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.

 

Characteristics of Godly Leadership: ABLE TO TEACH

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We’ve been examining the characteristics of an overseer listed by the apostle Paul in I Timothy 3:2 and applying them to spiritual leadership. Because I’m a Bible teacher, this next quality is especially dear to my heart: “able to teach.”

But even as many aspire to teach, the Bible gives us a stern warning. James wrote: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV).

Why would teachers incur a stricter judgment? Throughout His Word, God expressed His anger at false teachers and corrupt shepherds who led His people astray. He is protective of His people, and will judge those who leave His people hungry and unprotected.

Being a teacher, especially as a spiritual leader, means we have the ability and the opportunity to influence others for good or for bad. And when we teach in the name of Jesus, we must be careful that what we teach is consistent with the whole counsel of God’s Word.

So, in light of this warning, what does “able to teach” require? Let’s look at three areas:

Teachable

Before we consider Bible knowledge or relational skills, the spiritual leader who is able to teach must first be teachable.

A teachable teacher has a humble heart instead of an arrogant attitude.

Even though we’re 2,000 years removed from Jesus’ earthly ministry, she sits at His feet by spending time in His Word and being aware of the prompting of His Spirit.

She tackles her topic with a desire to learn before she prepares to teach the content.

Bible Knowledge

A spiritual leader isn’t a know-it-all about the Bible. But she is a student of God’s Word. She is “a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15 NIV).

She is a teacher who does not hijack a verse out of context. Instead, one who is able to teach studies the context of what she is teaching. What verses come before it? After it? Who was the original audience of that particular book of the Bible? Why did the writer write it?

One who is able to teach limits her teaching of the Bible to exegesis (drawing the meaning from the text and its context), and refuses to be drawn into eisegesis (teaching what she wants the passage to say rather than what it actually says).

A godly teacher will ensure that, as much as possible, she seeks to use the Bible to interpret itself. What she interprets a verse to mean in one place will never contradict what the Bible says elsewhere, for the Bible never contradicts itself.

Relational

One who is able to teach also treats her audience with respect. She doesn’t approach them as someone who has it all together or who has “arrived.” Rather, her perspective is that of a person traveling the same journey as those she is teaching.

A godly teacher knows her audience. Her vocabulary and illustrations will be consistent with the background of her listeners. The apostle Paul was a master of this. He said of himself, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (I Corinthians 9:22 NIV).

These are only a few of the characteristics of a godly spiritual leader who is “able to teach.” But they provide a good place to start!

Ava Pennington is an author, teacher, and speaker from the Treasure Coast of Florida.  You can read more of her work on her site: http://www.AvaWrites.com 

If you are looking for a great gift this season, consider Ava’s book:

Daily

Trailblazing {Devotion by Jenny Andrews}

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I became the director of a mentoring ministry in my local church at the age of 28. To say that I was scared would be an understatement. I don’t know how many times I questioned God and His calling in my life at that moment. I thought to myself, often, surely this is a mistake.  Who am I to lead in this area?  But, the Lord knew just what to do with me. He gave me the strength and courage to persevere through the unknown many times.

I didn’t grow up in the church or how to start a ministry. I started to read books and educate myself on ministry; meanwhile I was in college going to school for a degree in accounting. It then hit me one day that I could use the tools I was learning in my business school to apply them to my new ministry. I became organized and started to see the tools the Lord was giving me in the business world as blessing for His kingdom. After 6 years in the ministry I had everything down pat. The ministry grew, and I am now teaching others how to start their own ministry in mentoring. What I also came to understand was that I was a trailblazer in this type of ministry for my church.

The word trailblazer is defined as:

1.a person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness; pathfinder.

2.a pioneer in any field of endeavor:

Isn’t that what leadership is? We are all leading in new areas of our life whether in ministry, at home, in the work place, or other areas. We are all trailblazing in leadership. I think it is amazing that there are no two people alike in this world and that the Lord has a specific call on our individual lives.

Most recently I was speaking at a Native American Women’s Conference and I met a woman who said to me, “Jenny you are pioneer for your people the Lakota.” Her statement impacted me in a positive way and made me reflect on all the Lord was doing in my life at that moment. He used her to remind me that He is the leader of my trailblaze and that He will be the one to set the path before me. I now trailblazing in a new area with a new season of calling in life, but I am embracing it thanks to that one sentence said to me.

We all get to be trailblazers. I know it comes with unchartered territory, but can I remind you that the Lord has already equipped you. I leave you with this passage in the Bible because it assures me that although this may be new area of leadership to you or me it isn’t to the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

What in the Word: Introducing Sheila

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We are really excited to get a start on these on going series, and this is the final introduction of our new contributors.  Sheila Thomas will be joining Trish Jones on our scriptural study series: What in the Word!  Take a moment to get to know Sheila a little better.

Let me begin by saying in my most southern voice, “Hey, Y’all!” Those of you who know me, know that I speak very southern. Even my kids make fun of me. Haha! But that’s okay.

I have been on a journey in life of trying to break free from people “please-itis”. Trust me, it’s a curse! Worrying all the time about what somebody’s thinking of me is 100% bondage. But due to my personality, on top of the fact that I was raised in a pastor’s home, I got a very good dose of that disease! But I digress. Let me formally introduce myself first.

When I was invited to be on the team for the Women’s Ministry Council, I felt very honored. For many years I have loved working with women, so this just felt right. As one of my responsibilities, I have been given the honor of writing monthly for our website. My heart leaped inside about this because another one of my passions is writing. But first let me tell you a little about myself.

I was born in South Carolina while my parents were attending Bible College.  Upon their graduation, they moved to Alabama, where they had been born and raised, for my daddy to pastor a church.  When I was 11 years old, once again we moved. This time to Hobe Sound, Florida for my parents to join the faculty at Hobe Sound Bible College, with my daddy later becoming the pastor of Hobe Sound Bible Church as well. 

After graduating from High School, I went on to earn a BA in Music, majoring in piano, with a minor in voice.  I have spent my adult life as a voice and piano instructor. I also spent many years as church pianist, soloist, choir and praise band director, as well as Director of Women’s Ministry and a mentor with MOPS and the public elementary school.  I have also been the guest speaker and soloist at women’s retreats. Having been a licensed realtor in the state of Florida, I also spent several years in real estate.

I have been married to my husband, Orlan, for 45 years, (Yes, I got married as a baby!) and we have three grown children and ten grandchildren. We homeschooled our children for 12 years. That was such a joy and honor. My family is my utmost fulfillment and pleasure. I LOVED being “Mommy” and adding the title, “Nana”, was over the top fabulous!

Some of my passionate topics to speak on are worship, mothering, friendships among women, personal development/growth, and the journey of deliverance from the bondage of legalism. I look forward to chatting with you here on these and other topics as well.

Lest you think my life sounds perfect, let me assure you that it has NOT been that way at all. I have had my share (and sometimes I felt like I had more than my share) of hard times in life. God has brought me through some very difficult times. Some things I’ve lived to tell about are the early death of my sweet and precious daddy, heart break over close family members and close friends, struggling with chronic health issues, extreme financial difficulties, etc. But God has grown sweeter and sweeter as I have learned to trust His love for me. Learning that He is indeed a good and loving Father as changed my whole life.

So I look forward to sharing some more moments with you here. Until then, have a blessed day. Breathe. Take one moment at a time. Live IN THAT MOMENT! Don’t miss ANYTHING in life. Get out of your comfort zone. Open your eyes and see the beauty. There is much to enjoy!

Love and Blessings,

Sheila Thomas

The People We Need in Ministry Work

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I’ve always loved the hands in group huddle.  I believe what is most appealing about this type of encouragement is how no one person stands at the center.  Hands from every direction reach into the center, combining together to create a woven tapestry of people working together to accomplish a task.

Our lives as Christians are not meant to be lived alone, in solitude.  The Lord calls us into fellowship with our family of believers.

Leadership is not meant to be lonely either.  Jesus had his twelve.  The apostles traveled in groups, sometimes with one another or at minimum among their supporters.  They relied on one another to discuss the matters of faith.  When a lot of mixed messages were being sent out, they convened at the Council of Jerusalem in order to set things straight.

I would dig even deeper to point out that the twelve who followed Jesus were not mirrors of Christ, nor each other.  Each person had a different history and story to tell.  They had different personalities and roles to play in the every day work of the ministry.  We too, as leaders, need people who fulfill different roles in our inner circle.

We need a mentor, and we need someone we can teach.  We need an encourage, as much as we need the skeptic in our lives.  We need someone with wisdom and discernment, as well as someone who has the gift of prayer.  We need those who will walk along side us, willing to disagree with us, willing to discuss difficult matters with us.

And, as we build our Women’s Ministry teams… we should seek these same types of people to fulfill those roles.  We can’t have a team made up only those who encourage.  We need people who have passion for teaching and hospitality.  We need people who heed the call to pray for the church, the ministry, and the community.  Women who are fiscally gifted as just as important as they are good stewards with the ministry budget.

Over the next few weeks we are going to explore some of the roles of our leadership teams.  What is the role?  Why is it important?  What does the Bible say about it?  And, how do we find a person to fill that role?

Don’t forget to visit our EVENTS page and RSVP for upcoming events!

Ministry Spotlight: MOPS International

 

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This month, across the country and in many parts of the word, mothers of presechoolers are gathering at local churches for fellowship, support, encouragement, resources, and relationships.  An exciting facet is that Jesus is always invited too.

When my husband and I relocated to a new city, over an hour away, we didn’t know a single person here.  At that time we had an 8 year old and a 4 year old… however within just a few months I found out our third was on the way.  We were still trying to find a church home, our neighborhood didn’t have any other families with young children, and I was so very alone.   My first thoughts were:  “I need to find a MOPS group”.

I was already familiar with MOPS from my previous city and I knew that finding a local group would be a great way for me to meet people in my community that were in the same stage of life.  I also knew that MOPS groups were made up of women from various churches, which gave me an opportunity to be a part of a group while we were still searching for our home church.  For me, MOPS was a way to plug into community.

Over the last 17 years, I have watched women come to MOPS for many reasons.  What I also saw was how much MOPS became an avenue that led women and their families into the church.  MOPS Moms would sign their kids up for VBS.  The next year they were signing up as VBS volunteers.  They would trickle into family or kids events at the church, and then you would begin to see them at church on Sunday mornings.

There were some moms who ended up staying in our MOPS group, but their families would attend a church closer to their home.  Some would even start MOPS groups in their new church home.  MOPS is a blessing to both the mothers who are served and the churches in which they become part of the community.

Many communities, like our own, have MOPS groups with waiting lists because they’ve reached maximum capacity.  MOPS is one of those ministries, that in my opinion, you simply can’t have enough of.  Staring a MOPS group is an easy process that begins with the desire to serve our mothers with preschool aged children.

If you are interested in starting up a MOPS group in your church and community, visit their website or speak with another local MOPS leader.

 

 

Is Your Ministry Visible?

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On a Saturday morning, when your women’s ministry gathers to serve… who are you serving?   Is it the women of your church?  Their friends, family, and coworkers whom they invited to share in the day.  Or, are your tables filled with unfamiliar faces?  Faces that wear the marks of pain, struggle, loneliness, and longing for something they can’t put their finger on.

On a Saturday morning, when your women’s ministry gathers to serve… where are you serving?   In the comfort of your sanctuary, singing praise music, taking an offering, listening to a speaker?  Are you in the banquet area of your church, detailed centerpieces, a spread of homemade foods to feed an army, watching a bible study video, and having table discussions?  Or, are you out being the hands and the feet to those who are living on the streets, struggling to pay their bills, pulling weeds, painting houses, reading to the blind, shopping for the invalid, and serving the “least of these”?

Let me assure you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with serving the women of our church.  The women in our churches need encouragement, accountability, opportunities for growth, mentorship, and in their times of need we have a responsibility to minister to those needs.  However, this can not be the extent of how we serve our community.  We need to be willing to step out of our comfort zones and church walls.

When we serve the community, we serve like Christ.   When we serve those who are overlooked or outcasts, we serve like Christ.  When we serve others who serve, we serve like Christ.  Look to your community and ask yourself… if I was looking for Christ, where would I find him?  Who would He be talking to, who would He be serving.  Then go, and serve.  I guarantee that He is serving along side you… as you serve the body, He touches their spirit.

What are some tangible ideas for serving your community?

  • Host a luncheon for those who are serving the community in your area, to thank them for their service and to help them refuel their bodies for their work.  I would not limit yourself to only “ministries” either.  For example, you could contact a local food bank and offer to host a thank you luncheon for their volunteers.   Treat the teachers who work in the most troubled schools to a breakfast treat or catered lunch.
  • Host a baby shower for the local crisis pregnancy center to restock their inventory of goods they distribute to their clients.
  • Pack up bags for the homeless that contain a snack, hygiene items, etc. and plan a date to hit the streets and distribute them.  Pinterest has a ton of great suggestions for this project.
  • Host a luncheon for women who are being freed from the local prison, as part of their transition process.  Feed them, pray over them, find out what needs they have for reentering society, and then see what you can drum up.  Coordinate with a local salon to host a day of free haircuts for the women, a local thrift store to give each woman a certificate for 1 complete outfit for interviews.  Find out what items they can take ba the prison with them, and make gift bags filled with those items to bring back with them.  Or, find volunteers willing to go to the prisons and pray/minister to the women.
  • Volunteer at local soup kitchens, women’s shelters, etc.  Give time, or even begin a regular process of collecting donations for their needs.  Include bringing those needed items as part of your admission to an event.
  • Find local speakers for your events who are willing to donate their time, while the money from the tickets goes to organizations in need within the community.  Use your brunches as an avenue to collect money or goods.
  • Hold your next brunch somewhere in the community, a local restaurant or park.  Post signs that the community is welcome.
  • Find empty nesters in your church who love children, and pair them up with young teen or single mothers for mentoring.  These are women who need childcare in order to go to work. Foster a real relationship building opportunity.
  • Partner with other churches and create a support group for our Female Combat Veterans.
  • Create a tutoring center for single mothers who are trying to earn their college degree (or high school).  Or, a workshop that teaches English to speakers of other languages.
  • Bring gift baskets to the local strip club for the women who work their, remind them of their value.
  • Host bible studies in community centers, retirement homes, nursing/rehab facilities.
  • Find a neighboring church and host a lunch for their ministry leaders (Pastors, staff, study leaders, ministry leaders).

These are just a few ideas on what you can do in your community to let them know they are seen, known, and cared for.  Just close your eyes and pray… “Lord, give me your eyes to see the needs.  Give me courage to step out of my comfort zone in order to serve those whom you love.  Point me in the direction in which you want me to go.  Here I am Lord, send me.  Amen.”