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Ten D's for Effective Women's Ministry
Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress
- Delegating is key. An effective leader does the tough thing --- she releases control of many aspects of a church’s women’s ministry to other gifted women. While she guides by example and by position, she must also learn to “partner” with the women she serves, rather than dominating. At a recent lunch appointment, I listened to a friend share about watching two women at her church direct a ladie’s event. Although there were many women available to serve, those two “did it all” while everyone else looked on and felt useless.
- Discerning the giftedness of the women we minister to is a priceless part of the process of plugging women in and allowing them to experience the joy (and benefits) of service. As we observe them, we must ask God to show us where “our girls” fit and what they do well. Then we help them nurture those gifts for use in the body of Christ.
- Don’t rush. Very often, leadership comes on board with visions, goals, and plans they are anxious to see in place. Remember, though, it takes time to build relationships, and draw others into our plans while earning trust and respect as a leader. Be willing to move at the pace required for that to happen.
- The Destination is unity. When women move toward a goal in a united way, the success of a project is assured. While there may always be some naysayers, a general consensus is necessary for women to work together, enjoying the fellowship and growth of a common pursuit. This is true whether it is preparation for a small outing or a major event.
- Disciple, don’t parent. When we are focused on a ministry goal, it can be frustrating when others don’t see its importance or don’t follow through on their commitments to contribute time, talent, or finances. Grown women don’t need pressure, guilt trips, or someone doing their job. Our ladies ministry had a fun newsletter that everyone enjoyed. But it required a group effort of contributions, computer skills, and meeting deadlines. When it became obvious those things were not going to happen, we reluctantly chose to discontinue the newsletter.
- Do what works. When setting goals and planning programs, recognize the differences in people, programs, and even spiritual maturity. It helps us face unrealistic expectations and prevent disappointment. For instance, one women’s ministry offered intensive 12 week studies that were attended by only a small number of women. When they tried a different type of six week study, they were able to reach a much larger group of women.
- Define events. Women enjoy being able to call something by name. Try to give an upcoming event a title that describes it and conveys a sense of glad expectation. An evening of “Sharing your Secrets” is spent sharing household, money-saving, and time-saving hints, but it draws women in. The topic of lifestyle evangelism becomes “Telling your Story”, and a trip to an unnamed location is a “Mystery Morning”. The naming of events helps tremendously with verbal and visual announcements.
- Distribute accolades. Be generous with appreciation, acknowledgement, and encouragement. Expressing thanks, both privately and publicly, to those who have contributed to ministry (or who just need to be recognized) should be considered a regular part of a leader’s responsibilities. How this is done (phone calls, emails, notes) can vary, but it is not an option.
- Deflect both praise and criticism. Just as many complaints and much murmuring can be unfounded and unworthy of response, so praise is pleasant, but only to be acknowledged and released. With an open heart and willing spirit, ask God if the criticism has any merit at all and respond accordingly. When praise comes, remember where glory goes and Who is the source of all we are and accomplish.
- Determine to let God lead the leader. It is easy to get caught up in the pace of activity and leadership and forget Who is in charge. Nothing of any worth is accomplished without the power, direction, and wisdom of the One who we serve. He is the One who keeps us focused, balanced, and serving. His grace, His mercy, and His love will accomplish His purposes in us, in the hearts of those we serve, and in the church and lives we hope to impact.
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