Characteristics of Godly Leaders: REPROACH

reproach1

What does it mean to be above reproach?  For the longest time, I thought that it meant that leaders were in an untouchable space.  To be a leader meant that you were not to be criticized at all.  I interpreted the wording akin to “above the law”.  People who think they are above the law do not believe they are held accountable for their actions and decisions.

Over the years, I have learned that I was not alone in that interpretation.  In fact, quite a few people understand it to mean the same.

Several years ago, I had an opportunity to take a college class on Christian leadership that broke down these requirements, in 1 Timothy 3, for the Office of the Overseer.  The way it was explained to me was that being above reproach was not suggesting that we as leaders were part of an untouchable group.  Instead, it meant that our behavior should be such that there would be no need for reproach.  In other words, that our integrity and reputation should hold weight against any accusations thrown our way.  So that, anyone who hears them would dismiss them immediately.

We all know that is impossible for even the best leaders to live perfectly, we are all human and humans make mistakes.  But when our character’s good attributes weigh so heavy, our mistakes are accepted as such versus a character flaw.

If you are a person who always keeps your promises, and you slip up and forget once… you are going to receive grace over that mistake because it is the exception and not the norm.

In an ideal world, being above reproach should be enough.  But not always.  The key here is that if you are accused by one person, the majority of people will disregard it because they know you to be a leader of integrity.  Part of that integrity is owning up to your mistakes before you need to be called out on them, and making them right before you are asked to.

If you have made an error that requires rebuke or correction, if you have behaved in a way that is met with disapproval, or speak in a manner that is disappointing… and you deal with it head on, accepting responsibility, correcting your course, or making amends; you are behaving in a manner that is above reproach.  Rarely are people disappointed and disapproving of a leader who admits when they are wrong, and moves forward in a spirit of reconciliation or correction.  In fact, it often adds to your character.

To be above reproach means that you take your role seriously, and you understand the gravity of the position you have been trusted with.  You lead with integrity and honesty.

 

Building Better Budgets

BUDGETS.png

No one likes talking about budgets.  Well, I shouldn’t say no one, because some people actually do.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I don’t really want to talk budgets, but I respect the value of a budget.  Budgets give us parameters.  This is what I have, and then as a team we decide how we are going to use it.  Budgets make decisions for us, either we have enough money or we don’t.  Budgets move us, either we are given the ability to dream big… or we are given the motivation to think creatively.

Budgets are parameters, but they are not without compromise.  If you have too much money in the budget, you can get really creative or use those funds to bless another ministry.  If you have too little you can fundraise the difference, to meet your needs.

But what happens if you have zero budget?  You’ve requested, or been told, that there are no funds for your ministry… then what?  It may be tempting to think that no budget is a finite answer, but I would disagree.  I believe there is compromise even in the NO.

A lifetime ago, when I was working in retail, something I was taught was that very rarely is NO a permanent answer.  In most cases, NO really translates into “no, now now”.  This may not be the right time, I may not have the additional funds available, I may be too distracted to consider this opportunity, etc.

The response of NO to getting a ministry budget, doesn’t mean that your church or overseeing organization is unwilling or unable to give at all.  It doesn’t mean you can’t present your request for a specific item, training, or resource.  Particularly if this is something that can benefit the whole church.

Your church may say no to an annual ministry budget because they do not see the need to provide funds for ongoing potluck brunches.  But, if you were to ask for funds to specifically start up a discipleship program for the women… that may get one time support.

You may not be getting funds because you have failed to show how the funds are being used.  Maybe the finance committee members don’t understand that even a potluck brunch can have an expense of $100 or more.

In July, our local WMC Training event will cover the topics of budgets and fundraising.  We hope you can make it.  If not, look forward to more on the topic of Building Better Budgets after the training event.  We will also post direct links to resources, and share some of our favorite fundraising suggestions.

Pieces and Parts by Trish Jones

TrishJonesIntro

As someone who will be a regular contributor to this column, I felt it would be helpful if I introduced myself.

And then I ran into a real problem: which part of me do I introduce?

Which part of you? What does that mean? How many “parts” do you have?

Honest question. Honest answer? Many. Just like you. Some are easier than others to reveal.

Great-grandmother. (Yep. Trust me, I’m old enough to be one.) Business Administrator at my church. Women’s ministry leader. Prayer ministry leader. Serious Bible student and teacher. Board member of Care Net Pregnancy Services . Member of the leadership team of Women’s Ministry Council. Avid reader. Writer. Former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor. Theologically Reformed. Some call me a miracle after God pulled me back from near death a couple of years ago. Some (who may not know me as well as they think they do) label me as “wise; discerning; outgoing; compassionate.”

So. Are you perhaps just a tad impressed? Hmmph. Don’t be. Here are some other labels that have defined me: preacher’s daughter who spent a lot of years telling God to go away and leave me alone; that I’d do things my way, thank you very much. Didn’t much like him, or at the very least, didn’t understand how he worked in human lives.

And I certainly didn’t like his people. Hurtful hypocrites, every one of them. Some of them even chased me out of a church when a pastor felt it was necessary to share my confessed, sinful past (key word: “past”) with his wife, who felt it beneficial to pass along a “prayer request” to her best friends, who found it juicy enough to pass it along to other acquaintances – well, you can guess how that turned out.

A more difficult label: sexually promiscuous – before, during and after marriage. Hurting, lonely, rejected, looking for love in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways. My great ambition when I was young was to be a wife and mother, and I had always wanted four children. I miscarried one; aborted two; gave birth to one. Four babies – four fathers.

Consummate actress (in other words, “hypocrite”) and liar, controller and manipulator. Loner. Lots of acquaintances; no close friends. Glutton. Critical and mean-spirited. Two-pack-a-day smoker for over 30 years. (I’ve been known to teach a home study with a Bible in one hand and a cigarette in the other.)

What’s the point of all that self-revelation? So I can more effectively introduce the real me. Trish Jones: redeemed, justified, beloved and reconciled by and to a Holy God. In union with his Son and my King, the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s a mouthful – of Grace. As the Apostle Paul hammers home in his letters to the scattered churches of his day, I am in Christ – and he is in me. Extraordinary grace – and truth.

I am passionate about Jesus and making him known; deeply concerned about the lack of Biblical literacy in our western churches and individual lives; and painfully aware of the hurts, fears and questions that so many of us women hide behind our smiling faces on a Sunday morning.

Thus the reason behind my rather blunt self-introduction: I’m a real person, just like you. I have a broken, sinful past – just like you. I battle besetting sins; I struggle with the ongoing tension between God’s amazing grace and God’s requirement for holy living; I have personal concerns about finances and health; I have painful and fractured family relationships; and I have an absolutely guaranteed and glorious future that gets closer every day.

So. In coming columns, as you (hopefully) read my writings about (at least part of) what God is teaching me through his Word, you will know you are sharing the thoughts of a real person. Not a woman perched on some ivory tower somewhere, but a woman down in the trenches of this daily, difficult, nitty-gritty life, right alongside you. I’ve probably been in those trenches longer than most of you, so perhaps our Lord can use me to both encourage and exhort you in your own hand-to-hand combat with the world, the flesh, and the devil (Ephesians 2:2,3).

That’s my prayer – and my purpose. Discipleship. Coming along beside other women to lend a listening ear, an understanding heart, and a helping hand through walking in the Spirit and the Word – together.

The next time we are together in this column (if I haven’t totally scared you off) we will be looking at Colossians 1:27-29 – a few declarations of the Apostle Paul that lay out the purpose, ways and means of discipleship. I hope you’ll join me. In the meantime – Abide.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to contact me at TRISH JONES

Do You Need a WMC?

WeWantYou

Over the last three years, the WMC has been developing a ministry model that brings together Women’s Ministry Leaders in the community, provides group training, and direct services to ministries in need.  Our goal has always been to prove out a ministry concept that is reproducible, and see local Women’s Ministry Councils pop up in more cities.  Why?

1.  We recognize that the majority of resources and materials are out dated.

2.  We recognize that the mission of Women’s Ministry has been evolving into something new, and we need new resources and tools to help us all grow with that evolution.

3.  We recognize that there is no formal training available in the church, or outside, for Women’s Ministry Leaders and their teams.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and what we have lacked in support for our locl leaders has been met with the dedicated ministry leaders who have become part of the backbone of the Women’s Ministry Council’s Board of Directors.  Now, we are ready to take the next step we have been building up to.

* Do you have a desire to reach across the table and bringing local leaders from various churches in your community together, created an engaged and united ministry front?

* Do you believe that the women who are leading ministries in your church are in need of support and encouragement?

*  Do you see a void in leadership training and feel called to help equip leaders in your church and the churches in your community?

If you answer yes to those questions, then perhaps the Lord is calling you to join us in the ministry endeavor, and begin a Women’s Ministry Council in your area.

As we are in the beginning process of developing the roll out materials we are looking for FIVE LOCAL LEADERS across the country to help us with this process.  You will not only start up your own WMC in your area, but will be integral in helping us design the roll out program.  We desire your input, questions, suggestions, and perspective.  These are BETA Groups that will be started up and refined before the official program is released nationally.

If you are interested in starting a BETA GROUP, please fill out the contact information below.  You will receive a questionnaire to complete and your application will be reviewed by our Board of Directors.

Introducing…

cropped-wmc.png

Very exciting news to share with our WMC leaders.  We have expanded our Publishing Team to include some pretty amazing ladies, which will be contributing to ongoing series for the website.  We will still have guest writers from time to time, but we are looking forward to what each of these ladies will be sharing with the world.

 

LeadingLadiesStarting in July, we will begin our new “Devotions from Leading Ladies” series, and we welcome contributors Aimee Nelson and Jenny Andrews to the Publishing Team.   This series will explore leadership from a Biblical perspective.  To start the series off, Aimee and Jenny will introduce themselves and their heart for women who lead in the local church, community and abroad.

 

WhatInTheWord

Our next series is “What in the Word” where our new contributors Trish Jones and Sheila Thomas will teach about and from the Word.  From expository study to how to pick a translation, these ladies will pour into the hearts and minds of our leaders regularly from the Scriptures.  In addition, we will learn different study methods, how to use concordances, and more.

 

PracticalMinistryWith the addition of these amazing new Publishing Team members, Gena McCown and Laura Masoner are going to focus on Practical Ministry.  Administrative duties, event planning, team building, and other topics will be covered that help us all with the back end, or technical side, of ministry.  We’ll also cover specific tools, resources, books, and ministries that you may find valuable.

 

AroundTheWeb

Finally, as a means to clean up traffic in the Facebook Group and still share the work being one by other groups and ministries, we will begin our “Around The Web” pieces, which will have a monthly recap of articles from other websites that we find valuable.  There will be a short summary of the piece and a direct link to the website.

 

I hope you are looking forward to these new facets of WMC’s website as much as we are looing forward to providing them.

Fishers of [Wo]men

fisherofmen

This weekend, I attended a workshop on the topic of branding.  As the leader of a ministry, and knowing the direction we are taking in the coming years it is important that I am learning about all aspects of ministry building.  The speaker, Faith James, said something that caught my attention.  She was giving an illustration related to fishing, and pointing out that to have a successful fishing trip you must know “what you are fishing for”. 

Do you know who your ministry is fishing for?

As a ministry leader, you may be tempted to give the most obvious answers…

Everyone.  Women.  The Lost.  The Unchurched.

I am going to challenge you to take that a bit deeper.

As Faith James continued her illustration she said, “You can’t boil the ocean”.  Her point rested in that we have to have a more focused vision of who we are trying to reach because everyone is a concept that is as big as the ocean.  This doesn’t mean that there is not an ocean of people who need help, but rather it is going to be impossible for us to help everyone with our resources and time.  We need to have focus.

Putting this in terms of Women’s Ministry, let’s explore the following questions.

If every Women’s Ministry started a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, that meets during the week… who is serving our single mothers, or teen mothers?

If every Women’s Ministry was focused on serving homeless women and children… who is serving our women who have suffered the loss of miscarriage?

If every Women’s Ministry chose to stand with their local Crisis Pregnancy Center… who is supporting the women who chose life, or supporting the local foster/adoption agency to care for these children who were given this chance to thrive?

If your Women’s Ministry is spread thin trying to serve too many different organizations at once, are you really making an significant impact vs. making the choice to choose one and serve it at full capacity?

What if instead of each Women’s Ministry focusing on a broad scope of issues, we each chose one that we were going to give our full attention to?  We come together as leaders and identify the needs of the community of women we serve (in and outside of the church walls), then each Women’s Ministry leader picks one that will become their ministry focus?

Imagine a wheel with spokes.  The center of the wheel is the Cross, that is where we are trying to bring women… to Jesus.  The outer ring of the wheel is all of the women in our community.  The spokes are the individual Women’s Ministries.

thewheel

Quite simply, there are just too many needs in our communities (and within our church walls) for one ministry tackle it all.  However, if we work together and decide which needs each of our ministries will focus on… then we are working together to meet all the needs more effectively.

How do we do this?

  1. Collectively identify the needs in the community we serve.
  2. Check with other WM Leaders to determine which needs are already being served, need more help, or have not been addressed by the local church.
  3. Meet with your Pastor to determine if the church already has a focused need, that you can bring the WM under to address the women of that “need group”.
  4. If there isn’t a specific “need group” that your church is currently focused on, meet with your WM Team.  Pray that the Lord would help your team identify which need will become the WM focus.
  5. Connect to local ministries and organizations serving these need groups to determine how you can come along side their work.  Research online if there are national organizations already working in this area that you can partner with and introduce to your area.  Or, research online the ways you can begin to serve this need through your ministry directly.

 

 

Three Years Later

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Gena McCown

A little over three years ago, the first Women’s Ministry Council meeting was held.  I look at where we are today, I see where we are heading.  I sit in awe of what the Lord has done with an idea that was formed over two coffees and cheeseburgers at a McDonald’s late one Monday evening.

For those who do not know our history, let me take you back to that evening.  We had just wrapped up a Women’s Ministry meeting for our church.  Laura Masoner and I decided to meet over at the McDonalds and chat.  Laura and I can talk Women’s Ministry for hours without exhaustion.  It was during that conversation that the big “what if” question was posed.

What if we could get together with other Women’s Ministry Leaders/Teams and talk shop.  In our earliest inceptions we saw a networking group at best, conversing over coffee and pastries.  But then the Lord gave us the vision for something much bigger, a task that would require our faith and obedience to His will.  Not a move has been made in this ministry that was not laid in advance by God.  Not a step was taken at our pace, but rather we have been hustling to keep up with Him.

We knew that the majority of materials and websites that dealt with Women’s Ministry were either antiquated or still focused on the fellowship side of ministry with little focus on the practical.  We knew that Women’s Ministry was heading in a direction where the old programs were not working for women any more, and they were looking for something deeper and more meaningful.  Women’s Ministry needed to be renewed and refined.  It was time to take Women’s Ministry into a direction that was Gospel Centered, Disciple Making… SERIOUS MINISTRY.

In the three years since it’s inception, Women’s Ministry Council has been meeting the goals and mission consistently.

  • Providing FREE practical ministry training to local Women’s Ministry Leaders/Teams
  • Connecting Women’s Ministry Leaders/Teams to tools and resources to help build effective ministries, and encourage their gaze to ever be on Christ as their purpose.
  • Building relationships between Women’s Ministry Leaders/Teams so that they can help each other, when possible by sharing resources, materials, and experience.

In mid 2016 we realized that we had created a space that was unlike anything we had ever experienced.  Women gathered, from many denominations and even unaffiliated, putting aside denominational differences UNIFIED in the goal to bring women to the Cross.  It has been a tender place, where we have been able to share our vulnerabilities.  It has been a brave place, where we have dared to tackle heavy topics with grace and love.  It has been a place of healing, where we have had our hearts broken as our eyes were opened … YET the hope of coming together as one body to make a difference in our world.

When I prepare for our upcoming meetings, I am filled with excitement and joy.  I know that four Saturdays, each year, I am surrounded by women who are different than me in many ways but are filled with the HOPE of Jesus.  Women who sacrifice to serve their church and community well, who strive to be and do better.  Women who are willing to listen with soft hearts, embracing one another, learning from one another.  It is a glimpse of Heaven for me.

I see what we have done here among a group of leaders, and I pray that is what is also happening in our individual churches.  Creating community, building relationships, spurring one another on to good, lifting up those who stumble, equipping each other… and preaching the Gospel to one another.  Talking of His goodness.  Sharing your testimonies.  Interceding for each other. 

2018 is going to be a big year for Women’s Ministry Council, and we can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do in our lives, churches, community, and beyond.

Thank you for a great three years.