Hospitality Starts with a Warm Welcome

chruch.png

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?

What is anActs Ministryin an Acts Church

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

AbleToTeach.png

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}

trailblazing

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

introsheila.png

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