Care & Community, Event in Review Part 1

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It was another great event, with our community leaders coming together to learn about serving our communities (local and abroad) better.  We are quickly outgrowing our space, and the Lord has provided a new location for us.  The site and RSVP pages for all of our future events will be updated as soon as we know our exact move date.

Some highlights from our Care & Community Event:

Convoy of Hope’s Convoy:Women division sent us this amazing Empowering Women Party Kit for our women to preview.  This kit will help you put together a great event that raises funds for women in their at risk/trafficking rescue programs across the globe.  Additionally, they sent each Women’s Ministry Leader in attendance a great gift bag with information about Convoy:Women and Tumbler.    THANK YOU DOREE WITH CONVOY WOMEN! 

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We also had the opportunity to share with the leaders a ministry called “HOPE Mommies”, which is a two part ministry.  If you know of someone who has suffered the loss of a infant, during pregnancy or after, then you know how difficult it can be to work through that loss.  Churches can charter a HOPE Mommies Group and create a support network for the women in their church and community who have gone through this loss, and need a community who understands their pain.

You can also order a HOPE BOX (pictured below) to be sent to a woman in your church or community that has suffered a loss, or as a Women’s Ministry host a Hope Box Gathering where you can pack up multiple boxes and then take them to your local Hospital or Doctors Office where they can be distributed to grieving mothers. 

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All of our Women’s Ministry Leaders received the following in their gift bag, thanks to the ministries that support our work, and sent us information to share with the leaders. 

jan17wmcfguthriecrosswayCrossway Publishers donated sample chapters of “What Grieving People Wish You Knew” by Nancy Guthrie, and two full copies for us to give away.  Harvest House Publishers donated thirty copies of Women Counseling Women for our leaders to add to their Women’s Ministry Resource Libraries!  Do you have one?  Look for an upcoming post on suggestions on how to start your own!

SonGear sent beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and scarves (not pictured) for our leaders, as well as these awesome Overcomer Stickers.  New customers get 10% off their first order when they register.  Great site for event favors, speaker gifts, or personal shopping.

We also provided information on local ministries that our leaders could bring their Women’s Ministries alongside for serving in various ways.    This included information on on starting their own MOPS Group, Hope Mommies Group, Foster Parenting and Ministries that serve Foster Kids, Parents, Volunteers (4Kids Treasure Coast, Place of Hope Treasure Coast).

If you have not heard, the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. opens this fall, and would make a fun Women’s Ministry trip.  We also included information on Christian Leaders Institute which has a developing Women’s Ministry Certification program.

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Finally, we included information from our two guest speakers.  Sue Chess of Carenet (Treasure Coast) shared with our leaders about our local pregnancy crisis center and how they serve the women in our community.  Sue also shared a bit about their teen program, Protect the Heart, and then turned the topic over to her guest Pam who leads their Post Abortive Care program.   Not only were the leaders given information on the organization itself, but also a list of suggested ways they could serve and support this ministry.

We also had guest speaker Curtis Wilson, of One Child Matters.  Curtis shared with the leaders the One Child Matters vision and process for reaching kids in communities around the globe.  From child sponsorship, to mission trips to meet your sponsored child, One Child Matters has a unique program that focuses greatly on connections between the church and the community they serve.  We are looking forward to planning a Women’s Ministry Leader Mission Trip in the future.

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Part 2 of this event review will publish on Monday, Jan 16.

A Heart of Worship

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We are excited this weekend to have a new speaker at one of events.  Sheila Thomas is going to be sharing with our local leaders about the importance of having worship as part of our Women’s Ministry events.

Do you put much thought, as a Women’s Ministry Leader about incorporating worship into your events?  Whether you are choosing a formal worship event, that is all about singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, or having a few minutes dedicated to opening an event in worship… here are a few quick thoughts to consider.

Events tend to be a place where we feel very comfortable inviting guests.  These guests may not be familiar with old hymnals, your church’s go-to song list, or even what is being played on local Christian stations.  Therefore:

  • Look for songs that are easy and do not have complex melodies that are hard to follow.
  • Select songs that use more common vocab words vs. “Christianese”, so that our guests understand what it is they are singing.
  • Print out the lyrics or have the lyrics displayed on a projection screen for those who are unfamiliar, never assume people have memorized the lyrics to a common song or can follow along.
  • Even though women do tend to naturally sing at a higher octave than men, consider the untrained voice may have difficulty with high notes and use them sparingly.
  • Consider the theme of your event, the emotion you want to evoke from the women, and select songs that fit the theme or desired response well.
  • Don’t be afraid to bring in a male worship leader for a women’s event.
  • If your church worship team is taxed for time already, consider using someone from the body who has this gift but can’t commit to the regular schedule of the worship team.  There may also be someone from your youth group that could lead worship.
  • Contact local Christian Colleges with music programs for potential worship leaders.   Many of these colleges require volunteer hours of their students, and leading worship may count.  This is a win for the student, to gain more hours.  It’s a win for the ministry too, as it helps offset budget concerns.  Make sure to ask the college if you are allowed to compensate the student for travel time/expenses or give a monetary thank you gift even though they are volunteering.
  • Consider balance in the planning stages regarding how much time you want to allot for worship songs, where in the course of the program do you want to utilize them (beginning, throughout, ending).

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Many thanks to Ligonier Ministries and their magazine “Table Talk“, for gifting the women in attendance this weekend a copy of their back issue Worship Matters“.  It is a great addition to our speakers thoughts on why we need to incorporate worship in to our programs.  It’s a valuable resource on a beautiful topic.

Social Media Series- #3 Instagram

insta3.pngBy Gena McCown, Women’s Ministry Council Co-Founder

Instagram is a pretty popular form of Social Media, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has never heard of it.  They may not use it, but they know about it.  However, you may not have realized the beauty of Instagram as a resource for your Women’s Ministry.

Just like Twitter, when you set up your Instagram account you can choose to set it as Public or Private.  Public is a great way to get the word out about your ministry, but Private is going to protect your content from unwelcomed eyes.  When you set up your account, make sure to include in the profile description important information such as the name of the church, website, and city you are located in.  As well, there are options in the account settings that will allow you to link your Instagram account with your Facebook Group, Twitter Account, and other social media platforms.  This means you can post to Instagram and automatically it will show up in your other social media platforms.  That my friend is a time saving win.

One of the aspects I love about Instagram is the photo heavy sharing, which is a benefit to Women’s Ministry events where everyone is taking pictures.  The women can post their pictures on their own Instagram account and then tag (or hashtag, we’ll get to that next) the ministry or event.  This allows us to share our experiences, photos, opinions, and even live quotes from events.  Unlike Twitter, Instagram doesn’t have a character limit… you can post as much as you want.  Or, you can even post video clips you take at the event.

What is a “hashtag” it is the combination of the pound symbol ( # ) and a word/phrase/title.  They are used to categorize your Instagram photos, and can be used to search for related content.  For example, if you were looking for ideas for a women’s beach retreat you could search ” #beachretreat ” and Instagram would provide you with a slew of photos taken by people related to that term.  People are now beginning to use hashtags in very intentional ways, like hashtags for their children… businesses… and events.

A very common Instagram hashtag use is for weddings, where all the guests are given a “hashtag” to use for their wedding photos.  If you want to see photos, just click the hashtag and you’ll see all the photos associated with it… whether you took the photos or not.  This is also a common practice for Women’s Conferences too.  You’ll notice if you have attended Living Proof Live with Beth Moore, she has a hashtag for that event. It’s a quick way to find information associated with her events.

Some hashtag concepts for Women’s Ministries ….

#YourWomensMinistryName — if you have a unique name for your ministry, simply hashtagging the name might be enough.     IE:  HolyRollersForHim

#ChurchWomensMinistry — if your name isn’t super unique, couple it with the church name and/or city to help distinguish it from ministries of similar names.    IE:FBCPSLWomesMinistry or #ChristCommunityStuartWM

#TC3WMRetreat2016 — if you are having a special retreat, you can use a common hashtag combining the church name, women’s ministry reference, what the event is, and the year.  If this is something you do from year to year, then in future years you only need to change out the year to update it.

#SheIsHis2016 — If you have a theme to your event, you can couple that theme with the year.  However, this is only going to work well if you are the only ones who have used such an event name and theme.  If it’s not a unique name, tuck in the name of your church or city to help differentiate.

So, all that out of the way… what are some ways you can use an Instagram to benefit the Women’s Ministry at your church?

An important thing to note about Instagram is that it is primarily designed for use with smartphones and tablets, not table top PCs and laptops.  You can VIEW and even COMMENT on Instagram posts via your PC and laptop.  However any new photos or content you want to post to your Instagram account must be done via your phone or tablet.  If you are like me, and HATE typing out lengthy messages on my tiny phone screen or even tablet screen… there is a work around.  Use your phone/table to make the initial post.  Then from your PC or laptop, you can comment on your own post and type away.

* Scripture Sharing – you can post a scripture of the day (or week) for memorization.

* Devotions – type out a devotion coupled with a picture, or make a short video devotion.

* Service Recaps – share video from the last Sermon or a clip of a worship song to help the women in reflecting on the message throughout the week.

* Live Event Posting – if you are at an event like a conference or your own women’s retreat, just like you can live tweet… you can live Instagram.  Share photos with quotes from speakers, or of the women fellowshipping.  It’s a fantastic way to include the women who couldn’t come, and as I suggested in the Twitter post… it also may help you get the women in your church who have a hard time committing to see what they missed out on.  This could improve your attendence at future events.

* Dedicated Days – Utilize specific days of the week for specific tasks.  Meditative Mondays, might be the day you post scriptures to memorize or meditate on.  Worship Wedensdays, that could be the day you share your clips from the worship during past services.  Word-Filled Wednesdays, would make a great day were you walk the women through a weekly bible reading plan.  Fellowship Fridays, can be how you keep track of your weekly Friday Fellowship (small group, bible study, women’s minsitry meetings).   Not evey dedicated day needs a catchy name.  Mondays could be dedicated for scriptures, Tuesdays for prayer requests, Wednesdays for community needs, etc.

* Announcements & Information – Instagram is a great resource for making quick announcements about the happenings in the church and upcoming Women’s Ministry events.  You can even include direct links to places to register/pay for larger events.

* Last Minute Updates – Just like Twitter, most people access Instagram from their phones.  This makes it a great place to announce last minute changes or details.

* Bible Study and Small Groups – Not only can you use Instagram to share about the bible studies and small groups you are offering, you can post video clips promoting the material.  Additionally, if your participants need to purchase their study book online… you can put a direct link in the post.  Easy, peasy.  You can even tag the group leader with their Instagram account so that interested women can contact her directly through the Direct Message feature.

Finally, as another quick suggestion… for your WM Leader Team…

You can now have more than 1 instagram account.  Consider setting one up for just the leader team.  Make it private, and use this a quick communication source.   As the leader you can post quick pictures of things you are considering buying, locations for potential retreats, possible study materials for the next season of Bible Studies, etc.  Then your team has a place they can respond quickly.  (Granted, I would recommend giving them a heads up if you are going to be out and want immediate replies – so they know to be watching).  I think it could be a great way to share information with your team members, in real time, with the ability for everyone to contribute the conversation.   Such uses might include if you are out scouting retreat locations, at a conference and looking through small group study options, etc.

And… a private leader Instagram account might be a great avenue for team building and bonding amongst the leaders.

Be a Presence in Your Community

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Years ago, my Pastor made a point to our congregation on what kind of impact he wanted our church to make on our community.  He said that if our doors had to shut today, he would want our community to miss us tomorrow.  There are churches and ministries that open and close all of the time, but how often does their absence go noticed?  Does the community even notice they are gone?

Just last year, a friend and her family began to faithfully respond to the call toward International Missions.  They gathered a group of local friends together to organize a fundraising event.  A location was picked, local businesses rented booth space or sponsored the food and games areas.  They reached out to the local churches and asked if their worship band would be willing to donate time, playing just a set of music during the day.  In exchange the church could set up a tent and hand out information about their church to people from the community who passed through.  What an amazing opportunity to 1) support missions work, 2) network with other churches, and 3) introduce themselves to the people in the community who may not have a church home.

ONE church responded.  One out of HUNDREDS.  I was shocked.  You’ll be happy to know The Women’s Ministry Council was there.

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So, let me turn the question on to your ministry… how does your ministry present itself to the community?  Are you interested in serving your church only?  Or would you be willing to step out into the community and support another ministry, that is not your own?  What holds you back?

When a local church hosts a simulcast event for a well known speaker, why are we not carpooling our women to these events?  Or, at minimum, promoting it to our women?  Are we afraid to lose our women to another church?  Is our calendar too full, not providing enough room for divine appointments to come along our way?  When the community needs us, are we too busy to step out and say…  “Here we are, how can we help?”

Women’s Ministry is an amazing opportunity to not only serve the women in our own churches, but other churches and the community at large.  Big churches can come along side small churches, welcoming them into our Women’s Ministry events.  We can make space for the churches who lack the space.  Churches that have been blessed with resources, like Women’s Bible Studies, can share resources with those who lack.  Small ministries can band together, serving long side each other and sharing the load.  All of us, ministries of any size, can work together in serving our community.

What if?

  • What if all of our women’s ministries grouped up for a Habitat For Humanity building project?
  • What if all of our women’s ministries alternated weeks, providing meals to Molly’s House in Stuart?
  • What if all of our ministries came together to make blessing bags for the homeless?
  • What if all of our ministries fellowshipped together at local park, praying for our county?

What… if….