read more posts by

womensministrycollective

“When Your Heart is on Fire, People Love to Watch it Burn”

...I felt myself growing encouraged, knowing that as good as video curriculum can be, growing local leaders who teach the Bible to their own community bring life and vitality and realness. It tells the woman at the bus stop that someone like her reads and believes the Bible. It tells the businesswoman that God’s Word has power in her life—it’s not reserved just for persuasive, professional communicators.

There has been a lot of discussion on the web lately about the importance of growing women Bible teachers in our own churches.  While we have many gifted women who create excellent mass market video studies for us to use, it is important that the women in our local churches are being developed, also.

I enjoyed this article by Nicole Unice, which gives some tips for teaching the Bible.  My favorite?  “Passion always reads,” or as John Wesley said, “When your heart is on fire, people love to watch it burn.”  Oh that my heart would always be on fire for the Word of God!

To read more:  How to Teach the Bible So Others Understand

Is your church developing women Bible teachers?  If so – I would love to hear what you are doing!

Those Exquisite Forms of Love That Do Not Speak Your Language

Learning about love languages helped me understand myself and my family. But we must think about them wisely.

The challenge and joy of love languages is not in demanding someone else learn to speak my language or manipulating them until they learn to do so. It is in learning how to speak other languages, to receive love in new ways.

How many arguments did my hubby and I have, as he came home from work? He looked at me, looked at the dishes on the counter, and immediately set to washing them. I felt judged, for not having the dishes done. I felt hurt, that those dishes trumped me in importance. I felt angry about both those things!

 

One day I had enough and we finally had it out. I unloaded all those thoughts, and waited.

 

His response: “I do the dishes so that they are done, so we can both sit down and relax and enjoy the evening, and you won’t feel like there is work left to do.”

 

What I saw as an uncaring act, born out of a desire for order that trumped a desire for me, was actually and act of loving service. A little gift to me.

 

It all made more sense a few years later when I learned about love languages. So many things fell into place. My language: gifts. His language, you guessed it: service.

 

One thing we must be careful of, however, is that these languages don’t morph info demands.

 

Living in Two Worlds

 

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes to “the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus.” The saints are straddling two worlds, the are in Ephesus, and they are in Christ. And aren’t we all, on this side of Heaven, straddling two worlds?  The earthly one God has placed us in, and the heavenly one that is our true home.  We are sojourners here, learning to live in Christ while we live in Ephesus.

Esther lived this out in a big way.  When we meet Esther we are given two names for her, two identities: Hadassah, her Jewish name, and Esther, her Persian name.  She is an exiled Jew, living in Persia, trying to navigate two worlds at odds with each other.  And, as always, the time comes when she has to make a choice.  She, and we, can’t continue to be comfortable in both.  We will need to decide which one is our true identity, the one that will inform how we live out the other.

two-world-living

We know it is no accident, this two world living.  In Acts 17:26 we read that : “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.”  This two world living is meant to draw us to Him, to cause us to seek Him, to find Him.

In Esther 4, as the Jews face complete annihilation from the Persians, Mordecai understands this, and says, “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  He understands that this collision of her worlds isn’t the problem, it is a solution.  Esther, the Persian Queen, stands up in her faith, and will ultimately be the instrument God uses to save His people from destruction. But she has to decide which one is her true home, her true identity. And then God will use her in a mighty way.

So how would you fill in this sentence, “I am living in ______, and in Christ.”  I could fill it with a multitude of things.  I am living in chronic illness, and in Christ.  I must choose daily not to let chronic illness become an identity.  My identity in Christ informs how I live with chronic illness, not the other way around.  God uses it to draw me to Himself. I am living in the United States, and all that that means right now – especially in this political season.  But I am in Christ Jesus, and that must inform everything I say and do about what is going on in the world around me.

As we meet with women, we will see the hard situations they are living in:

I am living in a hard marriage

I am living in grief for a child

I am living in deep loss

I am living in loneliness

We need to point them to the second truth, that they are in Christ Jesus.  That has to mean something.  That can’t be a platitude, empty words designed to gloss over our pain.

It is easy to give advice, to tell others what we did in that situation, to point people to our favored solutions. But we need to point them to Christ.  To who He is in light of the situation, who He has said we are, and what He has promised us.  He did not put us in this world to despair, or to look for worldly answers, but to seek Him, and find Him.  Of course, we comfort others with the comfort we have received, and we share what we have learned as we may have walked a path ahead of someone, but ultimately we want them to seek Christ, not our advice.

 

 

 

The Best Icebreaker

A couple years ago I learned about Cru’s Soularium Cards from a leader in our mentoring program.  I ordered some, we used them,  and I have been telling everyone about them ever since!

It’s a simple idea that promotes powerful converstion – a set of 50 cards, each with a high-quality photo of a thought provoking image. There’s a huge variety in the images.

soularium1

They come with a series of questions you can use to start a converstion, such as, “What 3 images describe your life right now,” and “What 3 images do you wish were a part of your life?” There are also questions regarding spiritual life, such as, “What image would you use to describe God?”

Soularium is designed to create a space for authentic dialogue with people about their life and spiritual journey. It’s perfect to use with students, neighbors, co-workers, friends and family – people of all ages!

We have used the lighter questions for our first meetings in our mentoring program and classes many times.  Throughout the year we have pulled them out again, asking deeper, spiritual questions. In January, our Women’s Ministry Board chose images that described something they wanted more of in their life in 2016.  I am hoping to pull them out at our next board meeting and see how we are doing.

There is something about explaining WHY an image represents their answer that opens up dialog, and people just share more.  They also seem to be more willing to talk about how they feel about something, and go deeper than ‘just the facts.’

We have also used them as a prayer concern prompt – having women chose an image that represented what they would like us to pray for them. This was really helpful for quieter women, who may have a hard time sharing a prayer request.

If you are looking for a great discussion starter try them out!  Let me know what you think, and how you used them in the comments!

Check out the cards here

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things We’ll Talk About At Our Next Board Meeting

Believe it or not, this is the time of year I start thinking about planning our calendar for next year in women’s ministries. Our board meets every other month, and I want to begin praying and thinking about it together, and give them time to think and pray further individually, before we come back together in November and finalize it.

time-273857__180

 

A few pieces of the conversation we will have:

  • We’ll Pray. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. We will ask God to show us what to address this year, how to use this unique opportunity to minister in His name.
  • We’ll discuss our church’s overall mission – Reproducing Faithful Followers of Christ. How are we making disciples? Each idea gets filtered through this. Does your church have a mission or vision statement? Keep it in the conversation.
  • We’ll keep our church’s core values in view  – Gospel, Truth, Prayer, Maturity, Relationships, Ministry, Outreach, Stewardship. How is this ministry called to address those in the upcoming year?  Where can we enter in and teach and encourage women in light of these core values? One thing I am going to suggest is a workshop teaching women how to study the Bible on their own, introducing them to a variety of resources. (Truth).   If your church doesn’t have core values, the above list is a pretty good one to use as you plan.  You don’t need (nor should you try) to hit every one each year.  Just pray about it, asking God what area has been neglected or should be addressed.
  • We’ll under-plan. There are so many great ways to serve both the church and the community that we don’t need to plan things just to have things to do.  Women are busy, and what we do must be meaningful.  We want to consider what will be happening in the whole church, then deciding what to offer for women’s ministries. We usually under-plan, in that we plan less, and leave white space on the calendar for things that may come up next year.
  • We’ll evaluate our fall event.  For the past several years we have had an event in the Fall that features a woman from our church telling a story of what God has done in a specific situation in her life, and what she has learned about God from that.  I think it is encouraging to see God at work among us.  The vulnerability the speaker shows also promotes an authentic openness for us all.  Each year, however, we evaluate if this should continue another year or not.  There can be no sacred cows.

There will be so many good ideas, and processing them through prayer and these points will help us to stay on mission with our church.  As we discuss, general themes often emerge, and we find that God brings us to some specific ways we can encourage and mature women.