10 Quick Questions

Survey SaysWMC Friends,

It’s that time again, for a quick survey of just 10 questions to get to know our readers better.

As we get a better grasp of how your ministry functions, we can create content that fits within that function.

It is anonymous.  Please share with other ministry leaders in your circle.

 

CLICK HERE TO TAKE SURVEY!

If you would like to send us any additional PRIVATE comments about how we can better serve your ministry,  please use the form below.   These comments will NOT be published or visible on our website.  If you would like to include your name, email should we have any questions related to your comments that is an option but is not required in order to send your comment/suggestion/question.

A Common Identity

A CommonIdentity

This past weekend, at a women’s event, one of the Ice Breakers was all about our identity in Christ and how we introduce ourselves to the world.  The Women’s Ministry Leader selected Paul’s introduction of himself from Romans 1:1…

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God

It reminded me of something I read about our identity in Christ, as women.  First and foremost, we connect as a family of believers… sisters in Christ.  When we introduce ourselves based on this identity, we are Christian women.  Secondly, once Paul identified himself as a servant of Christ, he identified his purpose.  Which was an apostle who was called to share the gospel.   Once we know WHO we are, daughters of the King, we can then begin to share the rest of the details of our life.

Now, let’s apply this to our ministry.  What is our common identity?

We are Local Community Church, servants of God in our community.

We are The Women’s Ministry, servants of God to women in our church and community.

We are Community Non-Profit, a Christian agency that serves our community’s needs.

  • Common Identity #1 = WE.  We establishes a community, family.
  • Common Identity #2 = Church / Ministry.  These words establish that the community we are part of is faith based.  For an organization, once you have stated your name you can move into including that it is a Christian agency/group.

How we introduce ourselves as a group creates a clear identification of who we are collectively, what our community is, and through this people we encounter should feel like it is a welcoming community.  Body language, the words we use, the way we speak will make a difference.

We are essentially repeating what Paul said in Romans 1:1.  We’ve just replaced Paul’s name with our church, ministry, or organization’s name.

The rest of our introduction will help the person identify what our purpose is, and this is where the descriptions begin to vary.

Thursday, we will discuss how the ways in which we differ are also valuable in our Kingdom purpose.

Misconnected

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By Gena McCown

In a day and time where we are more connected than other digitally, our communities are responding with an increasing level of feeling alone.  When we look to the scriptures we see that community was a vital aspect of the local church.  Not only did they worship together, but they cared about one another on a personal level.  They tended to one another and carried each other’s burdens.  Communities worked together for the common good and because they were connected they were aware of what was happening in the lives those they called neighbor.

This led me to come to the very recent conclusion that we are not disconnected, we are just misconnected.  Experts have suggested that the problem with social media connections is that when one feels alone in their real life, they may turn to social media to connect and feel that void, and when that feeling of isolation doesn’t go away they dig deeper into social media to create more connections.  They are still seeking and looking for their tribe.  On the other hand, these experts have also suggested that once we are connected virtually the fear of missing out on what is being posted/shared may chain us to our devices verses going out and living life among others.

Disconnected seems so firm and final, like someone who has gone off grid or cut themselves off from society.  Disconnection happens when effort has left the equation of human relationship.  We have either made the decision to disconnect with another, or we have accepted their decision to connect with us.  I can’t believe a person who continually is seeking their tribe on social media outlets is seeking or accepting disconnection.  Instead they are trying to connect but in a different way, for whatever reason, and thus they are misconnected.  They are making connections but not the ones they need, which leaves the void they can’t fill.

What Can Women’s Ministry Do To Connect the Misconnected?

  • Connect the Women to Jesus – helping our women to understand who Jesus creates a foundation of self value and worth.  We connect them to Jesus through the Word which opens their eyes to a God who knows, hears, sees, and loves them… but who is also always with them.  We are never alone, when we are in God.
  • Connect the Women to Women in the Church – connecting women to other women who are also believers builds the foundations of community.  We have identified something we share in common, our faith, and embrace our connection as sisters in Christ.  As they begin to realize that they are not only walking this life with Jesus on their side but also a family of believers, the isolation will begin to dissipate.
  • Connect the Women to Community – through connecting the women to our community we begin to introduce purpose into their lives.  The more we connect with Jesus and our family of believers, the deeper our desire is to reach into our communities and serve others.  By connecting into our community we extend our community beyond what we could ever imagine.

How Do We Connect Women to Jesus: Bible studies, small groups, conferences, guest speakers, Sunday services, women’s brunches, retreats, workshops, etc.  It comes as we connect them directly to His Word via study, or as we share our testimonies via events.  

How Do We Connect Women to Women in the Church:  Ladies night/day out, women’s trips, retreats, brunches, fellowship events, concerts, movies, lunch dates.  Whether we start building connections through high attendance events or small intimate coffee dates, we are putting the building blocks in place for relationship.

How Do We Connect Women to Community:  Service projects within the church, local community, volunteering with local organizations and non-profits, local and international missions projects, etc. are all great ways to bring the women out of the church and into the community to serve.  By serving others, we often get to know them on a deeper level because we are meeting them where they are at.

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.

Acts 2 Church & Ministry Has Fellowship

Fellowship

There are two common definitions for the word “fellowship”.  The first defines fellowship as a friendly association of people who share a common interest.  The second defines fellowship as a group of people that are in an official group.  In the case of the church, I believe both apply.  A church body should be more than a bunch of people meeting in a space to receive information from the Pastor, it should be more akin to a family gathering or people who come together to celebrate their shared passions.

In Tolkien’s book “The Lord of the Rings” a group of unlikely characters rally together united in a common goal, and they refer to themselves as a fellowship.  Over the course of the story, this fellowship become more than strangers … they become friends, then really family.  They break bread with one another, face trials with one another, loss and grief, life and hope with one another.  By the end of the story, there is a deep and binding connection among the fellowship that endures even when life separates them.

This type of relationship is something that many are striving for, especially our women.  Yet, time and time again, I hear about how lonely they are.  In a world where we are connected instantly to one another, at the touch of a button, fellowship is an areas where we seem to be lacking greatly.  A ministry that is spending all of it’s time teaching is going to develop women who are Biblically smart, but without an emotional connection it will remain superficial … like a group of professors in a collegiate fellowship.  Sharing ideas, asking questions, etc.   To get to the emotional connectedness, women in particular need opportunities to live life alongside one another.

Fellowship has to extend beyond Bible Studies and Small Group, and into opportunities to get to know one another at a personal level.  We should be careful to not focus so much on fellowship that we neglect teaching, but rather find a balance where we are building a community that is growing in connection and in knowledge.  When scheduling social events with the women in your church, we need to make sure that they are also events that are connecting the women to Christ.  This doesn’t require teaching per say, but opportunities to model Christlikeness.  

Fellowship will:

  • Help your women develop authentic relationships with one another.
  • Deep connectedness where they can lean on each other in times of trial.
  • Creating family connections, particularly women who are not near their family.
  • Open the doors for women to invite their family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Transition new members into the family of believers, guiding toward Small Groups.

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.

 

Rest & Retreat: A reflection & call to rest.

Rest & Retreat(1)

I stepped down from a ministry I had started and led in my church for over 6 years.  It was a privilege to lead in that capacity. However,  I realized that the ministry consumed much of my life.   When I stopped leading I didn’t anticipate how big of a gap I would find in my life now that I wasn’t making phone calls, networking, leading,  planning, and mentoring; all while being a wife, mother, and part time employee.  I hadn’t realized how much work it took to run this ministry. I just did it because it needed to be done.

This made me think about other things.  In the 6 years of leading this ministry I lost both of my parents, graduated from college, and started a speaking ministry.

I had chosen to step down from this ministry in order to pursue another calling, but I felt like the Lord wasn’t calling me into another ministry right away; but back to my first and most important ministry,  my husband, children and family.  I also felt He has been calling me into a time of healing from grief.  Grief is tough.  It has been 6 years since my father passed, 3 years since mom passed, and only 3 weeks since my step-father has passed.  In this time, I have asked God to give me rest and help me deal with the stuff that needs healing; grief being one of them.

I have been busy getting to know my husband again, and my children.  My oldest is a freshmen in high school who plays sports and has a more active social life than I do. I now ask myself how did I ever have time to lead a ministry because I seem to have no life right now. But, I am thankful because it is an amazing journey.

I am learning that as a leader you must take time away to rest.  A good leader knows that rest is important.  While I would like to say I am great at this,  I don’t always take the needed time.  I am learning to see that when God closes one door, He maybe telling me to rest for a moment because resting is good for me until He  is ready to open the next door.

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I am still doing mission work, speaking, and mentoring but not so much that I forget to rest and heal.  I am also praying through this next season of life that I am feeling called to.

I am thankful that the Lord stresses the importance to take time to rest in Him. In all of this healing and resting the Lord has and always will be faithful.  He is my complete rest.  The verse I leave you with is this:

Psalm 37:7a
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…