Every church is unique and your Women's Ministry will be equally as distinctive. To guarantee success, growth and blessing, your main goal must be to align your Women's Ministry with the precise direction that God has given to your church's leadership.
Start by asking your pastor for the church's mission statement and any other written materials available regarding its philosophies and goals.
Concentrate on the big picture of "who" you will be as a Women's Ministry. I don't mean specific women's names, but "who" as a group? You need to establish your ministry philosophy. This will be called your Mission Statement.
A survey will help you determine how you will go about accomplishing your mission, but for now, don't even look at that. You must first draft a Missions Statement. Note: Using surveys to determine your mission is a bad idea because it takes you straight to the "doing" part of the ministry before you know your reason for "being" a Women's Ministry.
Mission Statements don't answer every question, but they do simplify the decision-making process and provide focus during times of uncertainty. A mission statement allows your team to flourish without getting too fragmented.
As an individual, God allowed me to understand my own personal mission statement in my early thirties and it has saved me from making countless bad decisions on how to invest my time and energy. Interestingly, it hasn't changed since I wrote it.
I remember the day I jotted onto a little 3x5 card: " I exist...to encourage women, to provide them with practical help and to turn their thoughts toward Jesus."
I posted it in my kitchen cupboard door and it stayed there for years where I read it often.
What I found was that it helped me know what to do. What it didn't do, was limit my life. I still clean my house and make meals. I still help my kids. I still write songs. I still do all sorts of things that don't fit "perfectly" under this mission statement. But it is a guide.
Since having a mission statement, whenever I am asked by someone (other than my husband*) to take on a new responsibility, I hold that proposal up to the light of my mission statement. If it lines up perfectly, I ask for permission from Dave to pursue it. If it's way off, I usually don't even consider it, and if it's unclear, I pray about it. (*At Dave's request, I do many things that do not line up.)
Several years ago I was approached by a regional newspaper and asked to write a weekly 1,000 word column for families. It was to include some words of encouragement and a food or craft recipe that families could make together.
It was close, but I couldn't see how to turn thoughts toward Christ. As I prayed about it, God showed me how I could include godly principles and concepts, resources and suggestions that would turn thoughts toward Jesus - not in every column, but frequently. Upon understanding this, I accepted the position.
A mission statement gives us focus, but God gives us direction.
On the opposite extreme, a few years back we cut a CD featuring several of my original songs. This was not a perfect fit because it was geared toward encouraging congregations of both men and women. It would provide worship leaders (not necessarily women) with practical help. We determined that it was close enough - and that God had gifted me, so it was our responsibility to share these songs.
Do you see? A mission statement should be freeing, not binding. It should provide focus without stifling what God wants to do in the moment.
One final thought before you begin writing: Remember that you are "writing in a bubble." What I mean is that your perspective and experience is limited to yourself or the few of you who are working on this. Yet, your mission statement will potentially affect your Women's Ministry for years to come. Therefore, write it with an open hand.
Expect that your church's leadership team, or your eventual women's ministry leadership team, will have some ideas that they would like to have incorporated.
As with any ministry, be a good steward by preparing to the best of your ability, but by walking it out by faith, with freedom to flex. It's not yours: it's Gods. Let Him use His body to orchestrate His desired outcomes.
WRITING YOUR MISSION STATEMENT
According to author Darrell Zahorsky, a good mission statement needs 3 key ingredients:
1) Limit it to a single, concise paragraph describing what you are going to do and for whom. Do not list individual ministries, but in a broader sense, define your purpose for existence. (Have your mother read it. If she can't understand it, rewrite it.)
2) Make it inspirational. It doesn't have to be earth-shaking, but it should motivate you.
3) Decide what your core competency is and include that in your mission. (Ie. - Is your church all about evangelism? Your Women's Ministry must reflect that. Is it a missions-minded church? Incorporate that.)
It is one thing to attract first time visitors to your events, but the fastest way to grow your women's ministry is to retain and involve as many guests as possible. Here are some tips that are working for other WM groups like yours.
Start your follow-up efforts during the guest's first visit.
No matter how wonderful your follow-up plan is, unless she was warmly welcomed during her visit, she will not be impressed. It is important to train your entire group to intentionally welcome visitors. Each guest should be greeted warmly by several regulars, and she should never be left alone: Someone needs to adopt her for the evening.
Also, before she leaves, it is imperative that you get contact information so you have the opportunity to follow-up. Here are some ideas that have worked successfully for groups:
- Create a welcome brochure or info packet to give to each guest upon arrival. Include a card for them to fill out on which they can indicate their family and contact information.
- Circulate an attendance roster (where regulars just sign in, but newcomers fill out basic contact info at the bottom of the page). Key to success: Regulars MUST sign, modeling that behavior for newcomers.
- Find some gals with the gift of hospitality to serve as guest hostesses. Have them watch for new gals to be-friend, and before the guest leaves the building, have the hostess invite her to the next event and offer to take her out for lunch or dessert afterward. Get her contact details and prior to the next event, make a personal call. Key to success: Focus on the fellowship and not the food!
Recruit a follow-up coordinator.
This organized person will be responsible to keep good records. This can be handled through a simple excel worksheet or you could purchase computer software designed for this purpose. Numerous options exist and are easy to find if you do a Google search for "Church Membership Tools."
Employ Proverbs 18:16.
"A gift opens the way for the giver" and you'd be wise to bring a gift to your first-time guests. Call ahead and ask if someone could stop by briefly* to bring a gift. Here are some gift ideas:
- homemade pie from church freezer stock
- a loaf of fresh bread and some jam
- gift bag w/ church fridge magnet
- inspirational book
- copy of church directory
- candy-filled mug (with church/group logo)
- DVD of the ministry
Simplify Your Follow-Up Systems
The First Church of the Nazarene, in Kansas City, KS, takes the hassle out of handling personal visits. One group of volunteers bakes goodies and organizes them with recipient names and addresses on a table in the foyer. Table sections are labeled by zip codes or neighborhoods. Each section contains the tagged gift bags/boxes for that area plus matching city map.
As Wednesday night worshippers leave the building, they stop by the table and take the goodies so they can deliver them to people who live near them on their way home. Volunteers simply drop off the boxes, unless they are invited in. After the visit, the delivery volunteer fills out and returns a comment form to the coordinator, so the team can determine which homes did not yet receive a gift (if not home) and what steps to take next.
Drop a Line
Someone from the group could send a handwritten or typed note, or request a friend/follow at the guest's favorite social networking site.
Host a Low Key Welcome Party
Karen Marie's group from Peoria, Illinois, sends the visitor a special invitation to the following meeting or event. The guest is invited to come 20 minutes before the meeting, to have coffee, cake or cookies with some of the leadership team. Time is taken to make introductions and welcome each one, but guests are not asked to join a committee or anything like that. It's just a time to fellowship in earnest and to serve some goodies. They have found that 15-20 minutes is plenty of time to make them comfortable and answer any questions they may have.
Actions often speak louder than words, and as your group works together to extend loving gestures toward each guest, they will experience Agape Love: the compelling love that makes them hungry for more. And, for some gals, this may be the first time that a stranger has truly loved them without requiring repayment of any kind.
Marnie Swedberg is the Women's Ministry Leadership Mentor via her online hub athttp://www.marnie.com, where you will enjoy many free and low-fee resources, connections, and training opportunities to help you reach your full potential in Christ, both in your ministry and your own life.
Are you a Women's Ministry Leader who would like to have a website for your group, but don't have the money or programming skills to build one? This article will help you set up your own website in less than four hours, including your own website address, for under $10.
The beauty of this particular system is that it is free, accessible and manageable by even the most web-phobic person, and it can easily be integrated into any other website at a later date. (So, if your church eventually builds its own site, you could have this be a subsidiary of that site.)
Your ideal website will be easy to access via a unique URL (Unique Resource Locator - your own website address), easy to navigate (so users can quickly find what they need), and easy to maintain.
A BLOG fits this description perfectly. If you were to pay someone to create a site like the one I am going to describe below, you could easily spend $1500. But there are dozens of free services available to you right now.
A blog is easy to set up, as it allows you to choose from dozens of page designs, one of which will closely reflect your ministry's personality. In addition, your blog will provide the ability for you to post current and future information (while retaining a record of all past entries), in an easy-to-access format, as well to include details about particular ministries and staff profiles. All of this information iseasily searched using the built-in search tool, which is provided as part of the free hosting service.
By following these eight, easy steps, you can go from brand-new-idea to ready-to-post website, yet tonight.
1. Select Your Blog's Name. It is critical that both your blog title and your URL (Unique Reference Locator, or website address) match your group's name. For example, if your group is called "Women of the Word," you would search a site like DomainsBot for that name. However, you would subtract the spaces so it would read: womenoftheword. In a matter of seconds, you could know if the ".org" version of your name is available. If your name is not available, consider using an abbreviation or adding your city or church name at the beginning of the string. Select the easiest, yet most accurate, website address available to you.
2. Register your domain name. You could spend hours researching which domain registration company to use, or you could use the one I recommend: GoDaddy. They have GREAT customer service and the cost to register your website URL is under $10/year.
3. Open a blog account. Again, there are dozens of great options for free blog accounts, but I'll save you the time of doing all that research by recommending WordPress.
4. Create your blog. Your first task will be to choose from dozens of layout templates. Browse your options until you find one that "feels" about right for now. There is no need to select perfectly, because, thankfully, you are allowed to change templates anytime. Just pick one that you sort of like and keep working. You can always change it later.
5. Set up your categories. A category is like a file folder: It is an easy way for you to sort and search for particular types of information. Mercifully, blogs allow you to create categories and sub-categories. So, you might have a category called, "Calendar" with subcategories for each month of the year. Another category may be "About Us" including subcategories by the name of each ministry coordinator or volunteer. The sky is the limit, and, once again, the system is very forgiving: If you want to "re-categorize" a post later, or add a new category altogether, it is easy to do! Best of all, anytime you add a new blog post, you simply click check boxes to "put it into" as many categories as you wish, which makes searching for the information very easy for your users.
6. Point the URL to the blog. There is a wonderful feature called "URL forwarding" which causes an invisible redirection of any site to another. By using this opportunity, anyone who types in your URL will be taken, invisibly, to the main page of your WM blog. This is far superior to using the long and confusing address assigned to you by the blog hosting service. And, by purchasing your URL (in step 2 above) from GoDaddy or any other reputable source, you gained access to customer service support in case you need assistance while making this minor tweak to your account.
7. Enter the content currently on hand. You may be tempted to try to add all sorts of historical data and to have the blog site "perfect" before you go public, but I encourage you to add just one simple, welcome message, and then to build it from there.
There is a Biblical principal that applies here: Remember when God was speaking to Moses and said, "What's that you have in your hand?" Moses said, "It's just a staff."
Just now you have the ability to add a welcome message and to get this thing going. If you start with that, and add just one or two posts a week, your site will have 50-100 posts in less than a year. It adds up fast and is easy when you go with the flow and just use "what you have in your hand" at the time.
8. Update your email list. My own experience indicates that only a fraction of those interested in following your blog will actually "subscribe" to it via RSS feed. Most people do not have the internet savvy to understand, much less use, the subscription options. Assuming this, be sure to send out an email message to your entire group each time you add an important post to your site. Always use the blog post title as your "Subject" line and be sure to include the link to the website. Be careful not to send notices about every little tweak - just let them know about the bigger stuff.
A blog is truly an ideal "first" step for any group who wants a web presence but has little financial or web programming resources on hand: It can be free, customized, categorized, searched, and managed easily by even the most nontechnical user. It allows you to add text, photos and links, and provide a way for your guests to interact with you online via the comment boxes below each entry.
So, what are you waiting for? Go create your new Women's Ministry website tonight!
Marnie Swedberg is the mentor to thousands of Women's Ministry Leaders from around the world via her hub at http://www.marnie.com