Do You Need a WMC?

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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.

Fishers of [Wo]men

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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.

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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

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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. 

The Starting Point

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It can be hard to come to terms with a subject that is just completely outside of your scope of understanding.  To have someone think less of you for nothing more than the color of your skin, or your country of origin.  To be treated as less than, to have lower expectations on your ability, or marginalized by how you look before someone even takes the time to get to know you.

Something else that is also hard is a willingness to call out sin for what it is, especially when it a sin you don’t want to admit is still present.  Even more so when that sin is being committed by yourself or others you know, particularly when you know that they are a good person.  From tasteless jokes to out right discrimination, we must come to terms with the fact that racism still exists in our country.  Yes, there are areas in the country that are more progressive than others.  There are people who have fought for civil rights in the past, and those who are still doing so today, because they believe in equality for all people.

Yet, there are still places where racism exists in very blatant ways.  Many more where racism is far more subtle.  If we call racism what it is, SIN… then we know exactly what we are supposed to do with that sin.  Which is tackle it head on.  It can be far easier to justify someone’s sin, by pointing out a persons checkered past or giving a good person a pass for an inappropriate joke.  Jesus never gave sin a pass.  Nor should we.

As our eyes become more open to the wounds that have not healed, we feel conviction over our thoughts and words.  We make the effort to change ourselves, to influence those around us.  For others, and for any number of reasons, their eyes are still covered by scales.  They can not see the sin, and as leaders we have a responsibility to not allow sin to go unchecked.

What are some practical ways you can be apart of change in your life, Women’s Ministry, Church, and community?  To confront sin, we must identify it and then actively work against it.

  1.  Take the time to understand the feelings of others by choosing to be quiet and listen.  Ask people who come from other cultures and ethnicities to share their experiences with you, and do not interject your opinions.  Allow them to speak, listen to what is being said, and take time to reflect on that conversation before you respond with more questions.
  2. Read.  There are plenty of books on the subject of racism and also on racial reconciliation.  You can watch interviews online, panel discussions, and more.  Google “Race and the Church” or “Racial Reconciliation and the Church” and you’ll find a trove of useful information.  I recommend “UNITED” by Trillia Newbell.
  3. Challenge your Women’s Ministry team (or church leaders) to go through “The Bridge to Racial Unity” Bible Study as a team.   You can access this through the ministry Be The BridgeEnter this study with humbleness, willingness to listen, and as the leader of the ministry set the tone of respect.  If you do not have any women of color serving on your ministry team, considering inviting a few willing women to go through this study with your team.  Women who are willing to field your questions with grace and mercy.
  4. PRAY for your own life to become open to diversity, that the Lord will bring the women to add to your Women’s Ministry team, and convict the heart of your church leaders to create a space that is welcoming to all of God’s people (even when it means getting out of our comfort zones in how we worship) including bringing people of color onto staff positions.

Ministry Spotlight: HOPE MOMMIES

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Recently, an acquaintance of mine shared that a young woman in her church had a miscarriage.  I was reminded of this wonderful ministry, Hope Mommies.  We’ve shared this ministry with our local leaders, and I wanted to take a moment to revisit it here.

From their website:

Hope Mommies™ is a 501(c)3 non-profit Christian organization who sole purpose is to come alongside moms and families who have experienced infant loss, bringing comfort, encouragement, companionship, and hope as they continue to walk this side of eternity without their beloved son or daughter.

Hope Mommies helps these mothers and families through various methods:

Directly:  A mother who has experienced loss is gifted a Hope Box, which contains personal gifts items, book, journal, and more.  It’s not just a sweet gesture to let her know you are thinking about her, but the contents are tools that can help her cope with the loss.   You can pay to have a Hope Box sent directly to a woman you know, who has experienced loss.  Or, you can donate a box that Hope Mommies will distribute on your behalf.

Community:  You can direct moms who have experienced loss to their online community, or as a leader you can lean into this community to learn how you can better serve the women in your church who have lost an infant or young child.  Or, you can host a Community Group in your church; providing a safe place for women in your church or in your local community to find others who have walked this road.  A place to heal, lean, and love.

Annual Retreat:  You can sponsor a woman in your community to attend the Hope Mommies Annual Retreat, or as a Women’s Ministry take on this as a cause that your ministry will financially support.

Ministry Cause:  Consider hosting a gathering event at your church, where your Women’s Ministry team or women in the church assemble Hope Boxes to deliver to your local hospitals to distribute when a woman in your community loses a child.   You may also build connections with your local OBGYN and Pediatrician offices and distribute boxes through their facilities as well.

Prayerfully consider if Hope Mommies is a needed ministry in your area.

The Pitcher is Filled

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Leaders are consistently pouring out into others, it is what we have been called to do.  To teach, lead, support, encourage, help one another, and whatever else the Lord calls us to.  As we pour out into others, it is important that we are being poured into by others.

In the past, when we have discussed mentoring and discipleship at our live meetings, we have shared with the leaders that mentors also need mentors.  This is one way in which we can be poured into.  But, there are also other ways that leaders can take intentional steps to ensure they are being poured into.  Empty pitchers need to be filled.  If they are not refilled, they can no longer pour into the cups they serve.

Here Are Some Suggestions to Fill Up Your Empty Pitcher:

  • Regular Church Attendance.   If you are not attending somewhere, regularly, you miss the fuel of corporate worship.  If you can’t attend your home church, find a church you can visit in the interim.
  • Regular Bible Study.  Making sure that you are connecting with God’s word, either in a community study or your own personal study provides you with a constant flow of His wisdom and guidance.
  • Dedicated Prayer Life.  Our prayers put us in direct communication with God, sharing our hearts and being open to His answer.  He can fuel us directly with the presence of His Spirit in these moments of intimacy with Him.
  • Pump in the Worship Music.  On a run.  In the car.  Around the house. Filling yourself with music that glorifies Him, lyrics that share His Word and affection can boost the emotional tank.
  • Attend an Event.  Whether it is a conference, retreat, workshop, simulcast, live speaking event, etc. make sure to attend events at other churches or locations that YOU are not planning.  Allowing yourself to be served helps refuel your servants heart. 
  • Get Away with God.  Schedule a time where you can take a break from all the things distracting you and set aside a lengthy period where you spend one on one time with God.  We will speak about this more in November, but planning a personal retreat of 24 hours or longer can help you shake off the dust and prepare your heart for what He will have you doing next.  Letitia Suk’s book “Getaway with God” is an excellent source for planning a personal retreat.

 

Your Presence Is Requested

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In 2005, my family relocated to the Treasure Coast. We knew absolutely no one in the area.  I knew the most important thing we could do, to begin to foster community, is find our home church.  I made a list of things that I felt were important for our family in our search process.  One of the things that was important to me was that the church have an active Women’s Ministry.  Why?
*  There would be fellowship opportunities where I would meet Christian Women, building up a local tribe of friends.
*  There was a high chance that an active Women’s Ministry would go on retreats or to conferences (which I love).
*  There would be a ministry where I could eventually serve, as I rooted myself into our new home.
My next step, was to hit the internet.  Truth is, there are a lot of churches in the Treasure Coast.  It would be impossible to visit them all, and frankly I didn’t want to waste time visiting a church that was missing the elements that were important to our family.  I visited church websites, looking at what type of Children’s Ministry they offered.  Since I knew we would be into Youth Group before too long, I looked into that as well.  I also looked for what type of Women’s Ministry was offered. Some church websites had none of this info, some had a basic listing of the types of ministries offered at their church, and others were a bit more extensive.
I used this method to weed out a lot of churches.  To be very blunt, if you didn’t have these three ministries in your church… we were not even going to bother to visit.  In fact, our current home church didn’t make the cut when we first moved here.  It was a couple of years later before we would visit the church.  They were having a women’s brunch that month.  If it wasn’t for actually being in the building, I would have never known.  We may have never ended up there.
It’s been twelve years, social media has come a long way.  Our web presence is even more important today than it was then.  People use our church websites to learn a lot about our churches, the ministries we offer, and how they relate to community.  Potential visitors can watch recorded services and find out if they like the music, Pastor’s message, etc. before they walk through the doors.
In our digital age the concept of “coming in and experiencing it for yourself” is almost obsolete.  In fact, many churches today have been tested by visitors it will never knew existed because they checked out the service through a livestream on Sunday morning.  Our ability to measure guest responses to our church is impaired, because visitors are watching us through a two way mirror. We can’t see the guests, but they are watching and watching closely.
Not only is it important that your church has a website, for visitors to learn more about your church… but it is also vital that it includes information about the various ministries that exist within the church.
When the Women’s Ministry Council started, we utilized the internet to help us locate the churches in our area that had a Women’s Ministry.  We searched through the site for mentions of a Women’s Ministry or at least Women’s Bible Studies.  Three years in, our #1 question we are asked is always:  “How come I didn’t know this existed before?”.   If your church doesn’t have a website, or the website doesn’t mention  your Women’s Ministry … that might be the reason why.  As a small start up ministry, with zero budget, we couldn’t afford to pay for a mass mailing and hope for the best.  We had a search strategy that helped us zero in our target.
Potential members may be crossing your church off the list based on the lack of information on your website.  The photos on the site, the content, and even the church calendar tell the story of your church.
Once you have added your Women’s Ministry to the church site, then you need to look at how information requests are funneled to the Women’s Ministry team.  This is usually the second reason why local churches with Women’s Ministries have not learned about our group.  After we would determine a church had a Women’s Ministry our next step was to reach out via email and postal mail.   Not only do guests in your church need a way to reach out to the Women’s Ministry for information, but so do the people within the body.  We need to make sure the information is making it to the right people.
I can’t tell you the number of WM Leaders who I speak with, who I personally addressed the mailing to their church, who never received it.  The email didn’t get forwarded on, or the invitation was never passed on.  A clear pathway of communication means that people requesting information about your Women’s Ministry have a direct way to reach YOU as the leader, or that those who receive general inquiries know to pass on the requests appropriately.  I also suggest letting that person know that you would prefer they pass on all inquires and you can filter through them.
As a Women’s Ministry leader, if you didn’t receive our mailing… I wonder what other information you may have missed out on?  Understand that it is not that the information is being purposefully kept from you.  Churches receive a lot of email and mail, from all sorts of organizations and businesses.  Someone is sorting through all of that mail, tasked with weeding out the junk mail.  A simple conversation can help this staff member or volunteer understand how you want your ministry mail handled.
Some key points to consider…
* Does your church have a website?  If your church doesn’t have a website… anyone who may be trying to find a local church might be missing out on what you have to offer.
* Does your church mention your Women’s Ministry on the site?  At minimum, it should be included in the list of ministries.
* Does your church have a clear path of information that funnels requests, mailings, and information to the Women’s Ministry leader?   Where does your mail go? Can you get an email address at the church that can be shared on the website and automatically forwarded to you?
* If you do not have an official “Women’s Ministry” ask your church office what happens to materials sent in address to Women’s Ministry leaders.  You never know what amazing things your church or women could be missing out on.