Characteristics of Godly Leaders: REPROACH

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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.

 

Look for the Helpers

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Hurricanes.  Earthquakes.  Fires.  Flooding.  Protests.  Terrorism.

There is a lot happening in this world, but in times of despair believers cling to Hope.

That Hope compels us to not sit back watch the world fall apart around us, but instead to bring Hope to others.

We become “the helpers”.  Believers have always been the helpers.  Historically in the early church, our women took in the abandoned children.  We tended to the sick, forming the first hospitals.  In the wake of tragedy today, we see that our Faith Based Organizations lead the way in providing relief to those who have been impacted by forces of nature and political oppression.

We need not wait for the catastrophes to land at our doorstep in order to be a helper.

We are the helpers when we pay for her groceries, when take a collection of diapers, when we feed an empty belly, and clothe those who need it.  When we pool our money and resources to provide shelter and even comfort.

Women’s Ministry Council  #WoMinCouncil

There are people in your neighborhood right now, and they are looking for the helper.  The homeless man you pass every day on your way into to the coffee shop, he is looking for a helper.  The single mom who wants to attend small group, but lacks the means for childcare… she is looking for the helper.

How can your Women’s Ministry become a helper in your local community?

  • Find an organization to support as a Ministry.  Use your Women’s Ministry monthly brunches as an opportunity take a collection of goods or money for this ministry.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities for your Women’s Ministry to participate in and build up teams of women who will serve.
  • For larger causes, work together with Women’s Ministries from other churches.
  • Watch the news, check the paper, and keep a pulse on what is happening in your community.  There may be specific people you can assist.  
  • Talk as a team about how you want your ministry to respond to community needs or local disaster relief before it is needed.  Create an action plan, work out the details, and even work through a trial run if possible.  It’s good to have the plan in place, so that when the need arises we can respond immediately and efficiently.
  • Ensure that you have a list of recommendations for services (shelter numbers, abuse hotlines, Christian counselors, etc.) available to all leaders… including your Bible Study leaders.  This means we don’t waste time hunting down information and can act promptly.

We would love to hear your suggestions too!

 

Pause to Pray

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As a ministry, our core mission is rooted in unity among leaders… churches… community.  We take unity, a value, incredibly seriously.  It is threaded into every decision we make, direction we step.

As a ministry, we stand against any form of racism and hatred.  As one can not be united when racism divides, when hatred divides.

As a ministry, we do not support any movement or organization that would cause division among people or results in a threat to life, welfare, or wellbeing of those whom God loves.  His Word tells us, in John 3:16 that God so loved the WORLD.  Not part of the world.  Not some people in the world.  But the world, in its entirety.  All nations, tribes, and tongues.

As a ministry, we are on bended knee praying for the Lord’s protection and provision over those who find themselves in the wake of hatred, bigotry, and racism.  For our women who are affected by these images, know that we are praying for you and your family as you come to terms with the events of this weekend.

We will not stand for this.  We will use our voice in any way we can to help you, defend you, love on you.  Tell us how we can be FOR you and stand AGAINST this atrocious sin.

Event Recap 3/3: Make It Work!

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Whether your budget is zero, two hundred, or two thousand… we can all agree that there are times where we need to stretch the budget a bit further.  It may be for a particular event, or the ministry budget as a whole.  Here are some tips to help you make your budget work for you.

  • Our previous article spoke to working with what you have.  You will be surprised what supplies and resources are just laying around in people’s homes and garages.  Often, we just need to ask.  If we do not allow our needs to be known, those who can fulfill those needs have no idea their help is needed. 
  • When budgeting for a large event, created the budget based on half the expected attendance.  For example if you want to have a special speaker banquet for 100 women, at $30 per ticket:  Your budget should be based on 50 women at $30 each, or $1500.  This way you know that your whole event is paid at the moment the 50th woman registers your event is covered.  Any registration above that provides funds that can go into the ministry budget, or for something extra special for the event attendees.  I will often create two budgets for large events. The 1st budget is what I absolutely must have “event budget”, and then the second budget includes my big dreams.  As money becomes available, I’ll start pulling items from the dream budget into the event budget.
  • For smaller events, or low cost events, considering rounding up the registration.  Let’s say you are having an event that costs $8 per woman, round up the registration to $10.  That $2 per person will add up over time and help build up the budget.  But, it also gives an opportunity to stretch the budget further to include scholarships for those who want to attend the event but may not be able to afford it.  Or, a buffer to cover any unexpected costs.
  • Use fundraiser events that don’t require any upfront money… where you can take orders for products.  Or, host events that cost you nothing to set up (like a craft fair, shopping boutique night) and people pay to attend or you get a % of sales.  A local MOPS group set up a fundraiser with a local restaurant where they would get a % of the sales from a set date/time as long as the guests mentioned the MOPS group name.  You can sell Tshirts with the ministry logo/verse, catalog sales, etc.
  • Look for event sponsors to cover costs or provide specific goods/services.   At a mother daughter tea, we had a local nursery set up some gorgeous plants with a bench for taking mom/daughter photos.  They did this for free, and placed a sign off to the side letting the guests know they sponsored the photo spot.
  • Take an offering or find a patron who supports your ministry to offset expenses the budget doesn’t cover.
  • Think ahead.  If you know that you have a Christmas Tea each year, watch for after Christmas sales on décor, plates, etc. that you can use for the next tea.  If you have Mother’s Day luncheon, watch for small favors or even gift baskets that go on clearance after Mother’s Day, and save them up for the next year.   Plan craft days around what items you crafty ladies find in the clearance bins at the local craft stores.
  • Check craigslist, ebay, and other sales sites for items you may need.  Many women will sell off their décor/supplies from their weddings, birthday parties, showers, etc instead of storing them.   I’ve seen everything from centerpieces to table cloths and chair covers.  It’s already themed too, which is great for those of us who are less creative.
  • Don’t forget your ministry is under the church (or other organizations), which means you are tax free!  Bring a copy of your tax free certificate when making ministry purchases, and some stores (like Hobby Lobby) will offer you an additional % off your purchase.
  • If you are ordering a large quantity of supplies, favors, books, etc. make sure to inquire about bulk discounts on single items.  I’ve even had luck calling manufacturers directly and getting items at wholesale prices.  Never hurts to ask!
  • Charge for events, when appropriate.  This may be charging for those using childcare ($2 -$5), charging a small registration ($5) plus bring a dish to share.  Just remember if you are going to charge, then you do not take an offering.
  • You can stretch a budget by sticking to it, if you overspend in one area you will have to make cuts in another.
  • Invest in reusable décor items instead of making new purchases for every event.  Linen table cloths, a simple centerpiece that you can embellish for holidays/themes.  If you have the same event each year (Mother’s Day tea or Christmas Brunch) you can actually save money by purchasing linens vs. renting them.
  • Coordinate with other ministries, perhaps there are items to purchase that can be shared and thus the expense can be shared.  A Women’s Ministry and MOPS ministry could share many staple decorations or supplies.
  • What are items within the church that you can use?  Can you use the copier or laminator?  There may be a stash of décor hidden away from previous years that can be brought back to life!
  • For events outside the church, remember to ask about group discounts.  Usually groups of 20 or more can get discounted rates for conferences, painting nights, and other such events.  If having a ladies night out at a local restaurant, you can often lessen the cost by having a set menu to choose from versus allowing them to order off the menu.

Share your ideas for extending, stretching or creating added funds to your ministry budget.  How do you make it work?

Budgeting Event Recap #2 of 3

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Wouldn’t it be lovely if we received an email tomorrow morning from the finance committee that the church was granting our ministries and unlimited budget?  Oh the things we could do, the Kingdom work we could accomplish!  However, that is highly unlikely to happen.  Funds are limited, there are many ministries that need financial support, and plenty of people in need.

What do you do when your budget is zero (or not enough)?

You have a couple of options.

  1. Request a budget.  You can request a flat budget amount from the church, to work within.  Or, you can type up a formal budget request which details your ministry plans and the costs to accomplish those plans.
  2. Request a budget increase.  If you already have a budget to work with, but you need an increase, you must request additional funds by identifying your needs for these additional funds (amount, purpose, etc).
  3. Fundraise the gap.  If you have zero budget from the church, or need an increase, and the Finance Committee doesn’t approve your request you can fundraise the needed funds (or the difference) in order to ensure your ministry plans move forward.

Ministry budgets are one of the reasons why I am personally a fan of having a ministry vision and plan.  You need to know what your ministry is doing, and what the costs will be, in order to request funds from the church.

Start with What You Have

A zero dollar budget may not seem like much to start out with, but you would be surprised by the assets you have in the church.  If you can use the space, tables, chairs… that is a start.  Can your borrow seasonal décor to decorate the tables with?  Can you utilize a woman in the church to share her testimony versus paying a speaker?  Do you really need a sweet little gift to send home with each woman.  Are there women in the church who don’t mind using their gifts to sew table runners for you or craft centerpieces?  What do your women have sitting in their garages and hall closets that could be donated to the ministry?  If you don’t have a plan, you don’t know what you need, and if you don’t know what you need… you will never know what you actually have.

Practical Tip:  Come up with a list of things you need or want for the ministry and post it onto your facebook page (personal, church, or ministry) and see what people have lying around.

Track Measurable Growth

Finance Committees or the Pastors who oversee the budget are charged with being good stewards with the church funds.  Therefore they want to see that the ministry is a value to the church and community and worthy of support.  This means that not only do they need to know what you are spending money on, and how much, but also the why.  Why are you having this event, what is the outcome.  They also want to know the who.  Who is growing from these events.  Are we seeing numerical growth as women transition from guests at events to Sunday morning attendees, and plugging into small groups?  Are we seeing spiritual growth, as the women in the church are being baptized or becoming small group/ministry leaders?

Practical Tip:  At the services following brunches or fellowship events, make sure to have a booth set up for your ministry.  Instruct guests at the event to stop by the booth that weekend if they come to services.  You’ll have a free gift for them.  Whether the gift is a .25 cent scripture bracelet or a $2 devotional booklet, you now have trackable inventory.  You can report to whomever oversees your ministry the number of guests who ended up at services too.  Instruct your small group leaders to inquire our new members found out about their group.

Zero Budget Does Not Equal Zero Money

There may not be enough money in the church budget to create a line on the annual budget for your ministry.  But that doesn’t mean there are no funds available to be used by your ministry.  If you are planning an outreach event, your church may already have a budget for outreach programs you can draw from.  Ask.  If you are hosting an event (like a retreat) and you will be taking payments, but need a down payment… ask.  The church may have available funds to provide the deposit so long as you reimburse the budget once the tickets are sold.  If you already have an approved budget and an unexpected opportunity presents itself, ask.  There may be funds that can be shifted from another area in the budget, or you may be able to receive a special one time increase.

Practical Tip:  If you need a budget to start with, or just additional funds, don’t forget to ask about fundraising.  Can you fundraise?  What restrictions or boundaries are on those fundraisers?  

Thursday, we’ll finish up this recap on our Budgets and Fundraising event with some practical tips on how you can stretch your ministry budget.

What in the Word: Introducing Sheila

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We are really excited to get a start on these on going series, and this is the final introduction of our new contributors.  Sheila Thomas will be joining Trish Jones on our scriptural study series: What in the Word!  Take a moment to get to know Sheila a little better.

Let me begin by saying in my most southern voice, “Hey, Y’all!” Those of you who know me, know that I speak very southern. Even my kids make fun of me. Haha! But that’s okay.

I have been on a journey in life of trying to break free from people “please-itis”. Trust me, it’s a curse! Worrying all the time about what somebody’s thinking of me is 100% bondage. But due to my personality, on top of the fact that I was raised in a pastor’s home, I got a very good dose of that disease! But I digress. Let me formally introduce myself first.

When I was invited to be on the team for the Women’s Ministry Council, I felt very honored. For many years I have loved working with women, so this just felt right. As one of my responsibilities, I have been given the honor of writing monthly for our website. My heart leaped inside about this because another one of my passions is writing. But first let me tell you a little about myself.

I was born in South Carolina while my parents were attending Bible College.  Upon their graduation, they moved to Alabama, where they had been born and raised, for my daddy to pastor a church.  When I was 11 years old, once again we moved. This time to Hobe Sound, Florida for my parents to join the faculty at Hobe Sound Bible College, with my daddy later becoming the pastor of Hobe Sound Bible Church as well. 

After graduating from High School, I went on to earn a BA in Music, majoring in piano, with a minor in voice.  I have spent my adult life as a voice and piano instructor. I also spent many years as church pianist, soloist, choir and praise band director, as well as Director of Women’s Ministry and a mentor with MOPS and the public elementary school.  I have also been the guest speaker and soloist at women’s retreats. Having been a licensed realtor in the state of Florida, I also spent several years in real estate.

I have been married to my husband, Orlan, for 45 years, (Yes, I got married as a baby!) and we have three grown children and ten grandchildren. We homeschooled our children for 12 years. That was such a joy and honor. My family is my utmost fulfillment and pleasure. I LOVED being “Mommy” and adding the title, “Nana”, was over the top fabulous!

Some of my passionate topics to speak on are worship, mothering, friendships among women, personal development/growth, and the journey of deliverance from the bondage of legalism. I look forward to chatting with you here on these and other topics as well.

Lest you think my life sounds perfect, let me assure you that it has NOT been that way at all. I have had my share (and sometimes I felt like I had more than my share) of hard times in life. God has brought me through some very difficult times. Some things I’ve lived to tell about are the early death of my sweet and precious daddy, heart break over close family members and close friends, struggling with chronic health issues, extreme financial difficulties, etc. But God has grown sweeter and sweeter as I have learned to trust His love for me. Learning that He is indeed a good and loving Father as changed my whole life.

So I look forward to sharing some more moments with you here. Until then, have a blessed day. Breathe. Take one moment at a time. Live IN THAT MOMENT! Don’t miss ANYTHING in life. Get out of your comfort zone. Open your eyes and see the beauty. There is much to enjoy!

Love and Blessings,

Sheila Thomas

Leading Ladies Series: Introducing Jenny

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My name is Jenny Andrews (Big Crow), I have heard the saying that to understand a person and what they do you should first understand where they came from and their past so I will start there.

When I was 13 years old growing up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation I encountered a heartbreaking situation that gave me the desire to help others. It was in the middle of winter when my family and I drove past an unconscious man on the side of the road. He was in, White Clay, Nebraska a small town next to my reservation that sells mostly alcohol and groceries. I begged my step father and mother to turn around and go back to check on the man. They did and the man seemed frozen. I got out of the car and went to cover him with my coat. I called 911 and they came with an ambulance to rescue this man. The paramedics told me that the man shows signs of hypothermia and that they were grateful I called them. As I stood by the ambulance, and watched them load the man, he stopped and looked me in the eyes with tears, he said, “Thank you! If you didn’t stop I would be dead.” I will never forget that look in the man’s eyes and how I made a difference in his life. At that moment in my life I knew I wanted to help people.

My experiences growing up on the poorest reservation in American exposed me to alcohol, drugs, and violence at a young age which was very challenging. However, in the spring of 2006, I had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, which changed me from the inside out, and I knew that I wanted to help people the same way I helped that man so many years ago. Although, I want to help people physically, my uttermost desire is to provide an eternal impact on people’s lives. I begin college and ministry work as a result.

I graduated with my BBA in accounting in hopes that my education will help me make an impact for those around me through my knowledge and gifts of accounting. I am pursued this degree to gain knowledge in business and finance to prepare myself for ministry in nonprofit organizations. Currently, I work part-time at my church as the Financial Administrator. I also trained under a one-year discipleship program that provided me with a solid base of practical and theological training in biblical studies and church planting. Through this program I earned a Certification in Practical Theology which I use to help others grow.

I started a women’s discipleship ministry over 6 years ago that has grown into a great mentoring ministry within our church body.  The ministry had such a profound impact that the men started the ministry as well. I equip women in the ministry to fulfill their callings as disciple-makers and to encourage other women to embrace their callings in discipleship.  This ministry has taught me a lot about myself and others. I do training meeting with other churches who would like to begin a One to One mentoring program in their churches.  

I have taught others to study the bible for over 10 years. I enjoy teaching women how to study the word of God thus a passion to see women grow has been my life calling. I encourage and equip women to study the word so they can see who they are in Christ and rightly divide truth. I love teaching but I also love learning and growing in my relationship with Christ.

 I am a public speaker and use my gifts to bless others with the wisdom and knowledge that the Lord has given me. I spoke on the radio, at conferences and just about anywhere the Lord will open a door for me to use my gift. I also do mission work to Native American reservations across America teaching women and children about Jesus. I desire to see my people be set free in Christ and for them to know they are created for a reason.

The role that is most important to me is being the wife to Neil Sr and the mother to 3 handsome boys, Elijah, Neil Jr and Malachi. I love my family and strive to live godly as a wife and mother.  I am blessed daily to be with my children. They make me proud.

While all of this is great I consistently strive to stay humble because I know where I can from and the brokenness I had before I met Jesus. I am a work in progress but I am Jesus’ work in progress and He is doing a great job at refining me into the woman He has called me to be. It is an ugly process at times and can even make me want to give up some days but He is faithful to me through it all.  My prayer is that over the next few months you will see that I am just your average woman wanting to walk out my faith the best way I know how to. I am looking forward to sharing my heart with you women.