You Are the Missing Link in Your Ministry
To make an impact with women, we have to be willing to connect on a personal level
You spend hours in planning meetings, trying to put together wonderful events for the women
in your church with the hope of helping them live productive Christian lives. Yet time and again, they don’t show up. Your leaders have done all they can to get the women in church excited and nothing seems to be working. You’ve prayed and you’ve fasted and the only logical conclusion left is to dissolve women’s ministry altogether—after all, there’s no need to separate men and women; Jesus didn’t appoint a director of women’s ministry to assist him in feeding the five thousand.
In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John C. Maxwell illustrates the points of success, which boil down to connection. How well we connect is the foundation that relationships are built on, and that includes relationships with our spouses, children, co-workers, business partners, and people in ministry. If we want to make an impact we have to be willing to connect on a personal level.
Something Is Missing
A while ago, I attended a church that produced weekly bulletin announcements for the congregation. I would often respond, with much anticipation, to requests for people to serve in women's ministry. However, my anticipation turned to aggravation while I waited for responses. I finally contacted the church secretary to find out why I was not hearing from anyone, and I was told it was due to the busyness of the year. Okay, I can certainly understand busy seasons at church; however, I was slightly confused as to why announcements were created, printed, and distributed if no one was prepared to respond to people interested in serving.
Communication gaps appear when we do not make ourselves available to people. I formed an opinion about this particular church as I felt they weren't compassionate, and my desire to participate in events, outside of regular service, began to fade. Jesus may not have appointed a women’s ministry director during his day, but he also did not sit in coordination meetings. He was often on his way somewhere when he was stopped by people who wanted prayer, healing, or deliverance, and he took the time to connect with them. Jesus blessed the woman caught in the act of adultery, he spoke to the woman at the well, he healed the woman crippled for 18 years, and he freed the woman of her 12-year issue of blood.
Social Media Taught Me a Few Things
As social media have grown, I have attempted to indulge in them myself. I have a Facebook account, and I recently started a blog and tried my hand at Twitter—again. I tried Twitter five times prior and each time deactivated the account because I did not understand how to use it. For this latest attempt, I decided to study the “how to” section Twitter offers to learn how to increase my followers. At the same time, I started a blog and decided to study the “how to” section as well—and to my complete surprise, both “how to” sections emphasized the same point: connection.
If I wanted my Twitter account to grow, I had to connect with others: re-tweet a great post and comment as well. Prior to my reading the “how to” on Twitter, I had a solid 49 followers for two weeks. After following the advice, within one week the number jumped to 130. That’s 81 more followers I can potentially reach with my ministry. I followed the same advice for my blog. I started reading other blogs and commenting specifically on what they wrote to inspire them and let them know they inspired me. Within one month I had more than 50 subscribers. Once I decided to reach out to others, I saw my ministry grow. Prior to this, I was sitting back waiting for everyone to comment on my wonderful blog and follow me on Twitter simply because I have a wonderful ministry.
It is my belief that the Lord prefers we not deactivate our ministries and instead learn how to bridge the gap. The Christian homeschool group of which I am a board member has weekly outings for kids and parents to socialize. On a recent outing at the playground, a mother I did not recognize arrived with her children, and I assumed the mother would join the group as we were seated directly in front of her. As I began chatting again, I spotted her sitting on the opposite side of the park—alone. Maybe she wasn’t there for our group, I thought, but I decided to walk over and ask. Turned out she was there to meet us; she was new to homeschooling and new to our group. I invited her to sit with us and introduced her to everyone, and before long she had begun conversing with others. Had I not been aware of her or gotten up to see if she was with our group, she more than likely would have left feeling very discouraged.
I am a very shy person, and had this incident occurred a few years earlier, I would have been too concerned with looking foolish and would not have reached out this mother. I would have decided that if she wanted to join us, she could make her way over to us. However, I now understand the importance of connecting as a leader and I put my feelings aside to reach out. We all have a desire to belong, and on that day this mother needed to belong. The women in your ministry would love for you to go out of your way for them to belong.
Leave a Legacy
In Leadership Is an Art, Max De Pree explains that the signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers. Are the women you’re serving reaching their potential? Are they learning, growing, serving, and graceful? If you’ve put forth the effort to connect, these questions can easily be answered. However, if you’re constantly behind a door not allowing anyone in, you should not be surprised by lack of participation. Events get planned based on great ideas or based on what another church is doing, instead of planning events based on the needs within the body. We are often doing all we can to pull women in, yet doing very little to put ourselves out. Enjoy an afternoon snack with women other than those in leadership, show support by attending their events, let them know about your journey with Christ—be vulnerable. Give them hope for their future.
You may have great vision for your ministry, but vision alone won't erect change. Vision met with passion for your women to live in victory will stimulate the benevolence missing in leadership. Jesus wasn't waiting for people to flock to his side; instead he was out walking—in the sun, in the dirt, up the hills, changing lives forever. He ate with sinners, touched the leprous, opened the eyes of the blind. He continuously put himself in position to connect with people so they could live in victory. When you demonstrate you care for your women, they will respond by caring for you. You will get to know their needs, and then God's ministry will grow.
Dream big and look beyond what you see right in front of you. The women’s ministry you lead will leave a legacy and it’s up to you what kind of legacy. Will it leave a legacy in which women feel depressed, discouraged, and hurt, never knowing how amazing Jesus is? Or will your ministry’s legacy be so powerful that souls are saved each week? Women will be sold out for Jesus: praying relentlessly for their husbands, friends, families, neighborhoods, cities, schools, government—so strong and powerful that the Lord comes and breaks the chains that once held people bound. All because of you and your willingness to step down from the leadership ladder to connect—and make a difference.
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba is a Memphis-based writer and speaker. She is a wife to Omar, mother of four, home educator and Bible student. She writes devotions on her blog at http://www.salruv7.com.