Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Women's Ministry Criteria

Are you a Women's Ministry leader? Have you established criteria for members of your ministry team?

In my opinion, a Women's Ministry is most effective when it is made up of women who have strong individual relationships with God, are unified as a group in their overall purpose, and have a clear understanding of the responsibilities and commitment involved in being a part of the team.

As you begin to put together your team (or add to it), I suggest meeting one-on-one with each woman you identify as a potential member. When you meet, ask questions that will give you insight into her interests, gifting, and ministry passions. Share your mission statement (If you have one) as well as the direction you sense God is taking your ministry. It is also important to explain how your ministry fits into the overall mission and focus of your church. Spend more time listening than talking. Make an effort to understand her perspectives, needs, and interests. Pray together and remember to include some questions about her life circumstances and her family.

Your time spent with each potential member of your team will not only give you a sense of whether she is the right person to meet the current needs of your ministry team, but you'll also begin to develop a relationship that will serve as a foundation for your possible service together.

I suggest you develop a list of criteria for your Women's Ministry Team members. Below is the criteria I recommend. Feel free to use it, adapt it, or use it as a spring board to develop your own.

  • Posses a God led desire to serve God in ministry using her gifts and talents for God's glory.
    • Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. -1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV 
  • Have a spiritual commitment to make her relationship with God her first priority while growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus.
    • Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. -Matthew 22:37 NIV
    • But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever! Amen. -2 Peter 3:18 NIV
  • Display a personal commitment both to the Church and to the Women's Ministry Team through conversation and actions.
    • Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. -Hebrews 13:17ESV
    • Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. -Hebrews 13:7 ESV
  • Posses a commitment to demonstrate the love of Christ through service in Women's Ministry by relating to others in a biblical manner and striving to be a servant-always.
    • Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievences you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. -Colossians 3:12-13 NIV
    • Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. -Galatians 6:1 NIV
    • This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. - 1 John 3:16 NIV


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Creating an Environment of Trust in Your Small Groups

Do you lead a small group? If so, do the members feel safe to share their struggles, their fears, and their needs?  Are your discussions deep, reflective, and honest?

I believe small groups are where real life-change happens. Every group takes time to bond and feel secure, but you can help the process along by establishing discussion guidelines, creating boundaries,  and promoting healthy interaction. Guidelines help create an environment of trust within your group by making boundaries and expectations clear.

Below are the small group guidelines I currently suggest for discussion groups associated with Fruitful Word Ministries and for other Women’s Bible Study small groups.

  1. Confidentiality is of utmost importance. I understand that all information shared with this small group is to remain within the group. (Ephesians 4:29)
  2. I will refrain from advice giving or providing explanations for others. Instead, I will offer a listening ear and share how God has worked through similar situations in my life. (Romans 14:19)
  3. I will listen carefully to what others have to say without interrupting or engaging in side conversations. When sharing, I will be respectful of the limited time and allow others to speak. (Philippians 2:4, James 1:19)
  4. I will refrain from negative discussions regarding other people, especially my spouse. When asking for prayer or support, I will keep specific names or situations of people outside the group private and focus on how to apply God’s Word to challenging circumstances. (Philippians 4:8)
  5. I will make an effort to complete the lessons beforehand and stay focused on discussing what I’ve learned from the current week’s homework. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  6. I will be sensitive and non-judgmental. We are at different places in our spiritual journeys, come from various denominational backgrounds, and the Holy Spirit works among us in different ways. (Romans 15:7)

Whether you use this set of guidelines or create your own, I suggest you print a copy for each member of the group, read and discuss your guidelines so everyone understands their purpose, and have members acknowledge the guidelines by signing a master copy.

As you encounter challenging dynamics within your group, referring back to your agreed upon guidelines can be a helpful method of maintaining healthy, grace-filled discussions that will cultivate personal relationships and encourage spiritual growth.

What other tools do you use to help create an atmosphere of growth and trust in your small groups? Please share by posting a comment.