Ladies, let me take a moment to say Happy New Year! 2015 is well on its way…where did the time go? We’ve had a few weeks filled with family and visitors and shopping and cleaning and Christmas and get-togethers……..a busy holiday season. But if you’re like us, women’s ministry is never far from your thoughts…and now the new year is finally here. Time to hit the ground running! Time to get your women’s ministry events for 2015 on the calendar, and start the process afresh.
Many of you have used holiday time off to get a head start. You have been already searching the web for new ideas, and pinning on your pinterest boards. I’ve seen it! And welcome to the new subscribers to Retreat-in-a-Bag! Let me congratulate you on getting on the ball early.
For the rest of us, this is a reminder that we can’t take our time getting back into the swing of things. In order to stay ahead of the game, we need to hit the ground running. Meet with your leadership, get your events on the church calendar, contact your women. And, most importantly, PRAY. Pray for direction, pray for inspiration, pray for your women to have a hunger for the Word of God and for fellowship. Like you, we have a number of women that we wish were involved more–and are lucky just to get them to come to a dinner once a year.
We decided to have a New Year Fellowship to start off the new year by letting our women know what is ahead for them in 2015…a new Bible study for the spring and fall, a women’s ministry conference, a women’s dessert around Mother’s Day, a summer study, a retreat and a Christmas dinner. They’ll get a bookmark reminder of the 2015 events so no one can say that they didn’t see the bulletin announcement :-). Oh, if they can just catch the vision and join us as we seek and serve the Lord together!
I was planning to write a blog concerning specific ways we can show our women that we care about them. I still may do that. But I heard this song (from a 1980’s sitcom) again this week, and I think the lyrics hit the nail on the head as far as “step one” in caring for our women.
You may recognize these familiar lyrics:
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name…
And they’re always glad you came…
You wanna be where you can see your troubles are all the same…
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.”
I think that song writer was onto something! Maybe the very first way that we can show our women that we care is by learning their name….and letting them know that we are glad they came…and being open and honest so they know that they are not alone in their struggles.
How can we create that caring atmosphere in our women’s ministries? I know we all want it–we want everyone to feel welcomed and comfortable in a safe environment that encourages open sharing. I think it has to start in our leadership and trickle down from there. We as leaders need to do what it takes to learn names and go out of our way to welcome people. We need to be open and honest about our daily walk and daily struggles and temptations so that we can all come to the foot of the cross together in weakness and humility.
“First Responder” was a term that really became part of our vernacular in the last 15 years or less. The first rescue personnel to arrive at the scene of an emergency or disaster are commonly referred to as “first responders.” But “first responder” is also a general term for all emergency service personnel who are expected to respond to medical emergencies or large-scale disasters and the skilled support personnel who provide immediate support during recovery operations. These people are trained to move quickly to the scene of an accident or disaster. Often, they are “on call” and must be ready at a moment’s notice.
I wonder if God would consider us one of His “first responders?” Does He know that He can call on us at a moment’s notice, and we will be ready to obey? Are we a tool that He can use should the need arise? God promises to equip those He calls. I Thess. 5:24 says “He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it.” In other words, if the Lord calls you to do something, He will also equip us and give us the wisdom, strength and power to do it.
But there is the little issue of our willingness and availability. Do we delay obedience by considering whether or not to obey? Let’s be known to God as one of His “first responders.”
I’m going to get up on my soapbox for a moment.
I know there is a place for fun and fellowship in women’s ministry. But as I do research online for women’s ministry, sometimes the emphasis seems to be games, crafts and entertaining the women. The www.retreatinabag.net website was originally created to share skits for women’s ministry, so obviously we encourage entertainment…but only so far as it helps you reach your goal of sharing and applying the Word of God and bringing your women closer to God.
Here is my “bold” statement regarding any women’s event: If your priority and focus is not the Word of God, you are just spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Fun and fellowship are wonderful, but it is the Word of God that will transform lives.
I love lists. I love making lists…and I love crossing items off that list! Sometimes I make a list just so I can cross items off.
Maybe pride is involved, because it gives me a sense of satisfaction as I see, in a tangible way, the things I have accomplished in a day. However, it is not just selfish things on those lists. The lists may include ministry tasks, letters to write, calls to make that pertain to ministry, in addition to my personal goals for the day. The perfect day in my eyes would include my quiet time, accomplishments of my daily tasks, and significant progress on “the list.”
Unfortunately, that “perfect day” is a rarity. Why? People. People interrupt. People have needs. People want to talk. People want my time. People have problems that don’t have an easy or convenient solution. People don’t get checked off a list so easily.
But if I look at the example of Jesus, I see that His priority was people. He saw them with eyes of compassion and reached out and ministered to them at every opportunity. His single-minded purpose included all of those interruptions and inconveniences caused by the needs of those around Him.