Be Still and Know

BeStillHe says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  

– Psalm 46:10 NIV

Quite often in leadership we find ourselves always on the go, moving forward, advance our Kingdom work.  We can spend hours scouring the internet tracking the trends of Women’s Ministries across the country.  We can invest our time and money in books to better ourselves as leaders.  We can even meet quarterly with Women’s Ministry leaders in our community to create a council of leaders who share their wisdom and experience.  Movement, growth, and study is a beautiful thing.  It’s not always the best thing.  There are times, even we as leaders, need to find stillness and listen to the voice of God.

We may need to stop the online searches, put down the books, and pick up the Word and let it speak life into our personal walk, families, and our ministry.  What if the Lord doesn’t want your ministry to follow the ministry trends but instead innovate a new way to minister to women?  Have you considered that the Lord may be trying to take your ministry focus off solely serving the women in your church and instead opening the doors to the women in your community?  Or, has your ministry taken priority in your life over your family commitments and relationships; and it’s time to add more people to the team or reevaluate your ministry goals?

If we are too busy listening to other voices, we can disrupt our ability to hear the Holy Spirit speaking.  There is a season to work and toil, but there is also a season to be still and listen. A time to be still and know that He is God, and He will order our steps.

Who Is In Your Community?

networkingHave you ever wondered what is happening in your community?  What businesses exist?  Which ministries are working alongside the community?  Who are people of influence in your area?  I have.  So, this week I stepped out on faith and attended a local business “branding” event.

I don’t have a business, I actually know a bit about branding, and yet I just knew that I had to give this luncheon an opportunity.  I learned about it through a sponsored post that was on my Facebook page.  I knew absolutely no one attending, and I had no idea what I was walking into but hey… I like lunch.  That’s a win, right?

By the time I walked out of there, I learned of three local ministries in our area that I could connect our Women’s Ministry leaders to.  I also was able to help another ministry with a resource that could help her cause.  Another ministry offered me a few solution ideas that I had not considered as we grow our ministry.  I even learned a tidbit about branding that I am going to be employing with the Women’s Ministry Council.

Talk about a win!  If you are trying to find ministries or organizations that your Women’s Ministry can work with, consider a networking event.  Or, if you are a ministry or organization in need of support from local businesses… consider a networking event.  Ask around, search on Facebook, and I’m certain you will find one in your area.

When the Lord Moves, We Move Too.

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2017 is here, and the Women’s Ministry Council has some exciting things to share.

* We Are Moving –  It has been almost 3 years since we started the Women’s Ministry Council.  We have grown in numbers and in purpose.  We have also outgrown our meeting location at Panera Bread.  The Lord however is providing a answer to that need.  Please keep an eye out for this important announcement in the comings months.   Prayerfully, the location will be ready for us by our April meeting.

* We Are Growing – When the ministry grows, so does our leader team.  We are excited to announce that Trish Jones has joined the WMC Leadership Team.  Trish will be an integral part of our team, bringing her experience and expertise to our website content, editorial review, and more.

* We Are Preparing To Expand –  Three years ago we shared the vision for the Women’s Ministry Council to become a ministry that can be duplicated in other regions.  We have 2 potential leaders who would like to start a WMC in their area.  The leadership team will be using 2017 to create the logistics of this program, with an anticipated roll out in 2018.

* We Are Thinking Big – In addition to the development of our group expansion, we have some beautiful things on our horizon…. such as….

~   Women’s Ministry Leader Mission Trip with One Child Matters

~   Intensive Workshop on How to Study the Bible for Yourself

~   One Day Women’s Ministry Leader/Team Conference

~   and so much more!

The WMC Team can not begin to express how much we are blessed by this ministry.  Serving our local leaders is an honor and a privilege.

Lord, let this ministry be all that you have called it to be.  Let us serve you, each other, our church, and our community well.   Amen.

Survey Says {Women’s Ministry Success}

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Survey Says… {Women’s Ministry Success} by Gena McCown, Co-Founder

How do we determine that our ministry efforts are successful?   From a Biblical standpoint, there are some great litmus questions we can ask:

  • Have our events been Gospel Centered?
  • Are our programs Disciple Making?
  • Have we improved Bible Literacy in our women?
  • Has there been a growth in the Prayer Life of our women?
  • Do our events/programs fit within our Mission Statement/Verse?
From a practical standpoint, some other areas that we can look at are:
  • Attendance:  has there been an increase, decline, or no change in the number of women attending?
  • Faces:  are we serving the same women repeatedly, a revolving door of new faces, or a healthy mixture of returning regulars and new faces at each event?
  • Community:  do the women of our church invite their friends and family to our events, or are we only serving the women in our church?
  • Outreach:  how many outreach opportunities have we participated in as a ministry?
  • Event Types:  which of our events have the greatest attendance versus low attendance?
  • Bible Studies/Small Groups:  have we seen an increase of new small group leaders, small group attendances, or shift into more in-depth small group materials/studies?
  • Funding:  do we have a budget deficit or surplus?

Besides reviewing these two aspects of our ministry, we can also utlize surveys to help us understand our ministry results better.  There are 2 types of surveys you can use in your ministry work to tap into the thoughts of the women you serve.

Per Event Survey:
This is a short survey presented at the end of an event where the women can provide feed back on that specific event.   Surveys like this are great for when you have a guest speaker, a retreat or workshop, etc.  It provides insight into the particulars of the event, allowing you to see what the women valued most or how the speaker resonated with the women.  A highly praised speaker is one you would invite back, if they didn’t seem to care about the decorations you know that you can skimp on that next go around, if they didn’t like the location then you don’t return, etc.  I like to include a space for comments where women can share specific thoughts about that event/speaker that are not in the questions.  There are several event surveys on the internet via sites like pinterest, women’s ministry tool box, womensministry.net, etc that have downloadable surveys available.  Or, you can write your own.
End of Year Survey:
End of Year Surveys are a great way to get a general overview of the response to your ministry work.  You can not expect your women to remember every speaker you have hosted over the course of the year.  Grading individual speakers is better suited for the per event survey (I learned this the hard way).  End of Year Surveys tend to include simple agree/disagree questions, such as:
  • WM at Church offers a wide variety of Bible Study and Small Groups.
  • WM at Church brunches are held at just the right frequency.
  • WM at Church events are well publicized and I feel informed.
These surveys also allow you to offer up an opportunity to ask more personal or opinion based questions, such as:
  • List three ways you believe WM at Church could better support our women?
  • If you are not in a small group, please share why?
  • Would you be interested in one on one discipleship/mentoring?
  • Are you interested in serving with the Women’s Ministry team?
Just as in the event survey, I do recommend leaving some space for comments and suggestions.   This is also a great opportunity to begin connecting people together by including questions about hosting a small group in your home (but not teaching), leading a small group, starting a community interest group (Christian Photographers, Sewing Groups, etc), and specifics that can connect the women to serving in the church.
You can send out the surveys in one of two ways, a good old fashioned paper survey or via one of the many (and often free) internet survey sites (such as Survey Monkey).
Why I value paper surveys:
  • They are accessible to everyone in your body, not just those who have a computer or are computer friendly.  It allows our older generations to speak their opinions.
  • They allow space to expound upon your answers in the margins.  For example, you may agree that there is a great variety of small groups but perhaps you’d  like to see more expository options available.  Paper surveys give space to make notations as you fill out the survey.
  • When someone has a paper in hand, they are more apt to complete it and return it.   Especially if they are completing the survey at the end of the event, or at the last WM event for the year.  You will see your highest return by having surveys filled out on site.
  • NEGATIVE:  You will have compile all of the data yourself, reading and counting every single survey.  The larger your ministry, the more tedious this will become.
Why I value internet surveys:
  • You do not have to be a math whiz to compile the data.  These online survey sites will often create charts/graphs with your data, thus making the review of the results easier for everyone.  You will have a great summary sheet to share with your Pastor, Minsitry Oversight Committees, and to go with your budget requests for the Financial Committee.
  • Online surveys are quick and easy and you do not need to try and interpret handwriting.  This makes the entire process easier for both sides, the person taking the survey and the person responsible for processing it.  Additionally, paper free surveys are environmentally friendly.
  • Most people will complete the survey when it shows up in their email box, but you do take the risk of the survey ending up in someone’s junk folder or buried in a slew of other emails and forgotten.  If you send out an online survey, make sure to mention it at your current event or social media sites to ensure the women know to look for the survey.
  • NEGATIVE:   The oldest generation of your church will be less likely to respond to the online survey.  There are sometimes limitations on the number of questions you can ask (if it’s a free service) or on how much they can type in the “comments” section.  Which means you may get a less in depth analysis.
My final thoughts on surveys comes to the subject of anonymity.  On the one hand, people will feel more freedom in their responses if they are allowed to remain anonymous.  On the other otherhand, anonymity can often give someone a platform for passive agressive attacks.  In other words, people are more apt to say something critical anonymously than they would if they had to say it to your face or attach their name to it.
If you choose to go anonymously, be prepared for a heavier dose of criticism.  Don’t ask questions you are not prepared to hear the answers to, or read comments that are less than helpful.  Some women will respond with their genuine concerns in this format, since many women don’t handle confrontation very well.  Especially if they are friends with the WM team members.  You will need to pray for discernment as you read the responses to determine if it is constructive criticism or destructive criticism.  You will also lose the opportunity to allow women to express interest in serving/leading as part of the survey.  Which means you would need to handle that separately.
If you choose to have the women include their name in the survey, be prepared for a lot of sunshine and roses and minimal open criticism of the ministry work.  When we have to sign our name to something, we are often more generous and graceful with our opinions.  It’s that part of women which is sensitive to the hearts of others.  We don’t want to hurt feelings or criticize someone we consider a friend.  However, this gives the women you are serving an opportunity to express their hearts.  If someone is willing to post a criticism with their name attached to it, you now have important information in your hands.  First, you know that this issue was important to the person who wrote it.  Second, you now have the opportunity to speak directly to the person about it.  This is a great opportunity to hear ideas or suggestions to improve the ministry, or at least create a conversation where you can explain to the person why the ministry made that decision or had that event.
Of course, there is also the option to let the women decide if they want to answer anonymously or not.  Even the online ones will give you the option for this choice as you set up the survey.

The End… or is it???

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At the end of the year, we reflect back on the past twelve months.  This reflection period helps us to determine what was working in our lives and what wasn’t.  We will make resolutions about our hopes for the new year.  Things we want to change.  New adventures we want to take.  Big decisions that need to be made, and small ones too.  We look to make our bodies healthier, and our minds stronger.  Some people will choose to leave a job that is not fulfilling, others will dedicate themselves to trying harder to land the next promotion.

The end of the year isn’t really the end, but rather the beginning.

The end of a chapter that leads us to the next step in our journey.  The end of a book is an opportunity to start a new adventure.  As long as we wake up on this side of heaven, there is still a place for our gifts and talents in this world.

What does this mean to Women’s Ministry?

It means that it is time for you and your team to reevaluate your ministry work, determining what events and programs stay and which should go.  But, it is also a time for self reflection.

* Are you still called to be the Women’s Ministry Leader?  (Or, other position title)

* Are you still called to serve on the Women’s Ministry Team, at all?

* Is the Lord calling you to a new ministry, or a season of rest?

There are times where we are called to step down from authority positions, but not necessarily to leave the team.  Your heart might still be dedicated to Women’s Ministry, but you are in a season that lacks the time to dedicate to the leadership position.  You can step down permanently or even select an interim leader and take a leave of absence.   However, there are times the Lord has a new place for your gifts and talents, and it may be time to leave the ministry altogether.  It is important to pray for discernment so that you know which is the path the Lord would have you take.  Keep in mind that the Lord may also call you to a season of rest.  I once had a friend tell me that the Lord won’t move you until He has somewhere for you to go.    I’ve learned that is not always the case.  Sometimes we are called into a desert period, where we have left what we knew… but we are not ready to go to the promise land yet.  The Lord may move you to a season of rest, where your priority is your direction relationship with Him; a season of growth and maturity to prepare you for the next leg in your journey.

If you have been feeling as if the Lord is moving you out of Women’s Ministry, then there are some other questions you should consider for the new year.

* Have I begun training my replacement?

* Have I made my team or Pastors’ aware of my intentions?

* Do I have people praying over me, my decision, and the ministry?

* If the Lord is calling  you to a specific ministry, have you reached out to their leadership team and expressed your interest in joining their work?

* If the Lord is calling you to a season of rest, have you prayed for clarity on what that looks like and shared this with those who will keep you accountable?

If you know in your heart that your season with Women’s Ministry is coming to a close, the greatest gift you can leave your team and church is a team that is going to function well in your absence and in the transition period.  Giving advance notice of your intention to step down, identifying and developing your replacement, and assuring your church leaders that you will be available to the new leader in an advisory role during the transition can make the process move smoothly. 

Final considerations, should you determine it is time to leave your role in the Women’s Ministry:

* How will you handle your exit?  Will you step away completely or ease out over a period of time?

* How am I going to handle team members coming to me with WM issues, now that I am not the leader?

* How will I handle members of the church coming to me with WM issues, now that I am not the leader?

Something I like to remind WM Leaders is that they leave a legacy.  Some women don’t like change, and when a new leader steps up it usually brings change along with it.  If you feel called to leave, then you have a responsibility to support the leaderWhether you choose to step away complete or ease out, make sure that you are encouraging the women you serve with (church leaders, church members) to take their concerns to the new leader and not to you.  Or, you can reassure them that all changes take time to get accustomed to and to be patient.  Being supportive of the new season allows you to leave a legacy that includes exiting with grace.

Mentoring & Ministering to Women

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Mentoring & Ministering to Women, Part 1 by Gena McCown

This Saturday, twenty five women’s ministry leaders attended a special training event on Mentoring and Ministering to women.  Author Gloria Furman once defined “Women’s Ministry” as any act of ministering to the needs of women.  Each church is comprised of women with a variety of needs, and areas where we can serve, leaving no two ministries identical.  Yet, the methodology is the same.  We are women who are rooted in scripture, dedicated to prayer, faithfully living out our calling to build a Women’s Ministry that is gospel centered and disciple making.

Later this week, in Part 2 of this series, we are going to recap some of the speakers points and talk a little more in depth about mentoring and discipling of women.  However, today I would like to share our gratitude with the supporters who walk alongside of the work we are doing here in S. Florida.  We couldn’t do this without their support and prayers.  If you attended, we’d love for you to give some social media love.  If you didn’t get to attend, check out these great resources!

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First, we’d like to thank NavPress for their donation of “The Gentle Art of Discipling Women” by Dana Yeakley.   Discipleship needs to be an intentional focus for Women’s Ministry, and each our leaders in attendance received a copy to share with her ministry team.

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When discipling women, it is great to have a reference resource to help navigate through questions we may not have all the answers for.  FaithWords donated a copy of “ABC’s of Christianity” by Terdema Ussery for each Women’s Ministry Leader in attendance.

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If you are looking for a straightforward structured system for discipline, check out Multiplication Ministries mentoring curriculum, “One to One Discipling for Women”.  They also have a version for men.  Our speaker, Jenny Andrews, spoke on her experiences with the materials and how they have incorporated them into their church.  (We’ll cover this a bit more in part 2).   Ten ministry leaders brought home a copy of “One to One Discipling for Women”.

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For those look for a less structured mentoring program, you may want to look at “Organic Mentoring” by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann.  Eight of our ministry leaders received a copy of this book at our event, but all of our women can read the first three chapters on our Facebook page.  Thanks Kregel Publications!

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Quite often when we talk about mentoring, we think of the scriptures in Titus 2.  Crossway Publishers donated two copies of “Spiritual Mothering:  The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women” by Susan Hunt.  Crossway also sent a sample chapter of “Parenting” by Paul David Tripp for each woman in attendance.  Mentoring and discipling isn’t just limited to those who attend our Women’s Ministry events, but most importantly our own children.

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Finally, we were able to connect our Women’s Ministry Leaders to a great ministry “Embrace Grace”.  This ministry reaches out to our unexpected mothers to be, giving them encouragement, support, and most of all Jesus!  We already have one local church who has started an “Embrace Grace” group, and Lord knows we could use more in our area and throughout the country.  Each leader went home with a complete information pack on how they could bring Embrace Grace to their church and community.

Thank you so much for your generosity, prayers, and support.

Team Series: Treasurer {Finances}

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Team Series:  Treasure/Finances,   By Gena McCown

Times have changed.  Churches often don’t have “treasurers” like they once did, instead they use accounting services.  Everything is automated, including budget spreadsheets.  Generally speaking, you can access the information in due time.  Quite often we pay out of our pockets and get reimbursed versus using “petty cash”.  There are many reasons to believe this role is one that could be retired.  I’m going to disagree with that entirely, for the following reasons:

  • Good Stewardship of Ministry Funds
  • Accountability
  • Checks and Balances
  • Fundraising
  • Greater Accessibility

Good Stewardship of Ministry Funds – Money minded people are generally good with money.  They are more apt to think through purchases and have long term sight into future spending needs.   If you are thinking of a making a purchase, they will weigh and measure if it’s a need or want, if the ministry has the funds or not, or if there is a better way to use the budget.  Eliminating wasteful spending is a great gift to any ministry, and we sometimes need someone who can reel us back in from our big dreams.

Accountability – When there is a person who keeps the ledger for the ministry, you tend to not have too many hands in the pot trying to get money at one time.  I’ve witnessed situations where multiple were out shopping and “picked up” little something for a ministry.  No one asked about it, just made the purchase and assumed they would be reimbursed.  Having a person who oversees that area creates a check point for purchases before they are made. 

Checks and Balances – In a church setting where funds are being deposited for multiple ministries and endeavors, all through the week., errors can happen.  A person may put a check in the offering plate to pay for the retreat, thinking the accountant will see the word “retreat” noted in the memo section and apply it accordingly.    Money may be handed to someone in the office, and it gets tossed in with the deposit without noting where it goes.  It’s important to have someone in the ministry team tracking all the deposits and withdraws from the ministry budget.  Several times throughout the year, your finance person can compare their accounting to the church account.

Fundraising – When you are the person looking at the account balance on a regular basis, fundraising is naturally going to come to mind.  You are aware of how many times you have had to say no.  It stinks having to tell one of your team members that they need to scale back their project or event.  It is even more unbearable to break the news to the team that the registration for the next women’s retreat is going to increase due to lack of funds to offset costs.   The person who fills this role will know the needs of the ministry that are not being met, the projected costs of the ideas that the team wants to add.  (Note:  In some ministries, it may be prudent to divide this particular need into a separate position.  Larger ministries especially, would benefit from a Fundraising Leader AND a treasurer.)

Greater Accessibility – During a Women’s Ministry meeting, a great idea may be put out on the table to discuss.   Do you want to wait 24+ hours to find out if their is room in the ministry budget, or would you rather have that information available on the spot?  Having a team member who keeps track of the finances will give you that access to information.   The church accountant (especially if they use an offsite service) may not be able to get back to you immediately, it could even take a few days.  A team member who handles the expenses and record keeping is merely a text away.  This is particularly vital during a time where you are planning for a large event.

How Do You Identify This Person?

  • When pitching an idea, she is usually the first one to talk about the expense.
  • She will always have researched the best possible price before she shares an idea or project.
  • This is someone who regularly presents ideas for fundraising, notices budget needs.
  • She is one who would never spend money on the ministry without checking in with the leader/team members first.
  • In her personal life, business life, she is fiscally responsible.
  • She may be an accountant, or served as a “treasurer” for other organizations, ministries, or clubs in her past.
  • Usually a Type A personality, analytical, enjoys math and “crunching numbers”.

Her Spiritual Gifts May Include:

  • Administration
  • Discernment / Wisdom / Knowledge
  • Service