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.)
Marnie Swedberg is a speaker, author, radio show host, and international leadership mentor specializing in growth and expansion campaigns based on perspective transformation.