Saturday, April 20, 2013

women's ministry in my life...

This morning I will be speaking at our church women's brunch.  Here is a summary on what I'll be covering... defines ministry as: the act of serving.  So women's ministry would then be the act of serving women.  I believe this includes women both inside and outside the church.

Ministry isn't something that happens at a certain time, place, or event, but it's something that we are... our lives are ministry. Ministry isn't about a program or formula, but about using our creativity and gifts for the good of others.

Ministry may take the form of hospitality, it may be organizing a group of people together, it may be sharing the Gospel, an encouraging word, or meeting the needs of someone we encounter along the way of our everyday life.  We are all ministers of the Gospel.

I was asked to share some examples of what that looks like in my life, how I do ministry, and stories of that playing out...

Here are a few examples from over the years of how I've organized groups of women together;
-used to hold a monthly Craft Night where ladies could bring their own project to work on while enjoying food and conversation with each other... since this was not held at my house I was comfortable advertising this on Craigslist, flyers in coffee shops, open FB groups etc.
-I used to organize the ladies from our community group used to get together once a month for some sharing/ encouragement/ girl time without having the guys around... this has gotten a lot less frequent as our lives have gotten more busy, and most of us have had children, but we still try to do it when we can
-we host singles/ couples in our home for dinner on average of 1-2 night a week
-most weeks I plan a weekly zoo or Chick Fil A trip for stay-at-home moms and their kiddos to get together
-organize groups of women to attend a local Turkish Cooking Class... all of the women who teach these classes are Muslim, and open to inter-faith dialogues, so over the years several of us have had the chance to share the Gospel with some one these women, and if nothing else educate each other on our beliefs, culture, etc. and tear down some of the negative walls that exist between Muslims and Christians, particularly American Christians
-ladies board game nights at our house
-yearly ladies blueberry picking trip to a farm on the Northshore
-send weekly texts to ladies from our community group and our Pastor's wives to encourage them and find out how I can be praying for them
-Bible studies

I also know of ladies who have organized artists retreats, running groups, worship nights, and various other events.  I know a stay-at-home mom who bakes goodies every Monday morning to send to work with her husband for his co-workers, to her kids schools for the teachers, and to leave in the mailbox for her mailman.  I know a group of young adult ladies who got together and started their own monthly breakfast cafe for the homeless in New Orleans, where people are served restaurant style.  Get to know your neighbors and the people around you... bring housewarming gifts to new neighbors, Christmas or holiday treats to your neighbors.  There are no limits to the creativity of how you can bring people together or do ministry... work off of your talents, passions, interests, and skills.  Not everyone is a planner/ organizer, so organizing big groups of people won't be for everyone, but each of us is equipped with some gifts to use.

For me, this looks like taking my son to the parks in our neighborhood, going on walks through the neighborhood and engaging our neighbors in conversation.  Knowing them, and knowing their needs.  Over the last few years my neighbors have continued to warm up to us, at first they wouldn't even let me in their homes, and now they invite me in and give me hugs and kisses.  This has brought up several opportunities for ministry... my husband has had the chance to pray with multiple neighbors over the last month.  Our community group has provided Christmas dinner for 3 of my poor neighbors for the past 2 years.  Because we know them, we know their needs, and we are able to meet their needs provisionally, emotionally, and spiritually.  One former neighbor used to come over almost weekly for tea, and would comment to me that I was the first neighbor that she had who actually tried to get to know her.  I would text her weekly when I was going to the grocery store to see if she needed anything, and sometimes pick up additional items for her while I was there. 

Also, one encouragement that I've learned from... it's not about numbers.  Don't get caught up in worrying about how many people come to each event, remember the shepherd would leave the 99 to go after the 1 who was lost.  A few years ago, one craft night that I hosted, only 1 person showed up.  I was defeated thinking that it was a failure, basing my "success" on numbers, but God knew exactly what He was doing bringing only 1 person there that evening.  And after some crafty time with the 1 lady who did come the Lord gave my friend a huge burden to confess to me a particular crippling sin/ stronghold in her life and I had the opportunity to encourage, speak truth to, and pray with her right then and there... all of which would not have happened had other people shown up that night. 

Often as women we can tend to be a Martha and not a Mary... to get caught up in the wrong things... the plans and details, rather than our relationship with Christ, and to others.  Plans and details are good, but Christ is better and the only thing that is important.  It's not about having the perfect event, the food, decorations, activities etc., it is about having the Holy Spirit, in a relationship, listening to Him and His promptings and using our passions and giftings for His glory, wherever we are.  It's about doing all that we do to the glory of God, in relationship with Him, being His Light to each and every person we encounter and being faithful stewards of every resource He gives us.

It's about being fully present, available, and engaged where we are, and not adding more activities to our calendar.  It's about having the margin and time in our schedules to be the church, and not about having so many church activities on our schedules that we don't have any time left to be in the world.  It's about being in our neighborhoods, offices, places of interest (gyms, spas, restaurants etc.) as ambassadors for the Kingdom, as Light in the darkness.

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