IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, I TOOK ALL THE ART CLASSES OFFERED. I am not good at art or at drawing but I loved the feel of a new sheet of art paper or a blank canvas. I was in love with the idea of creating something on that bare space. In my mind and in my dreams, I could create a masterpiece with flow, movement and brilliant use of color. Unfortunately, my hands never got the messages from my brain and heart, and I usually produced a twisted mess. My shapes were malformed; my perspective was skewed; and my tints turned into a strange shade of mud.
That immediate failure was hard for me to accept and overcome until the teacher reached into her cabinet and handed me a new page of art paper — a new canvas.
Starting over offers optimism, hope, and joy — and beginning again promises another chance to get it right.
Perhaps you have experienced some failures during the past year. You wish you could erase the memory of some meetings or encounters. Participation in your organization has dwindled, and now you are feeling like my school-girl paintings — disorganized, overwhelmed, and bored.
I have good news! God has given you a new page, a fresh, blank canvas to begin again — 2019!
Let’s consider some new beginnings that we can implement now because, as T. S. Eliot said, “Every moment is a fresh beginning.”
Repeat after me: “This year I will implement some of these clean-slate ideas as I lead my organization.”
Study the craft and art of personal and corporate prayer. Commit to pray together as a team — that corporate communication with the Father is fresh and powerful. Memorize prayers from Scripture such as the prayer of Jabez (2 Chronicles 4:10), the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), David’s prayer for deliverance (Psalm 3), or Hannah’s prayer of praise (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
Build prayer lists that focus on the growth and development of your organization, saving those lists of sick relatives and world peace for a different agenda. Instead, name individuals and goals and desires for the ministry.
BRAINSTORM THE BENEFITS.
Call your leadership team together with one specific goal for the meeting: To discover the benefits of your ministry. As the team discusses, guide them to stay focused on the individuals you serve. What do they need? Avoid talking about the preferences and passions of the team or what is easiest for the team.
What is most needed for the people you serve? Fellowship? Laughter? Connection or networking? Activities such as crafts or games? Service projects? In-depth Bible study? Inspiring speakers?
Consider sending a survey to the members of your organization asking about their desires. You may find gems of wisdom and fresh ideas. Write goals based on the benefits you can offer. After you’ve had time to contemplate these goals and benefits, call another meeting to write the plans for the coming year.
I have talked to many women’s ministry directors who have built thriving organizations by thinking outside the norm when planning events. Here’s a sampling of some of those success stories.
IDEAS FOR FUTURE BENEFIT-DRIVEN EVENTS
1. A share-your-passion event. Find those women who are creative and industrious and give them the opportunity to teach others in the group. A demonstration on quilting. Another on scrapbooking. A plan for getting exercise in busy lifestyles. Cooking lessons, perhaps with a specialty like “crock pot meals” or “baking” or “healthy foods.”
One women showed others a system to preserve all those artwork and school project items from her kids. Hospitality ideas. How to stay organized. Bullet Journaling. A writer taught how to write your life story and save the cute stories and sayings of your family. Women love to share their enthusiasm and passion.
2. A lunch-time event for working women. Pick a location that is convenient for most women. (In large cities, you may need to pick two locations.) Let everyone “brown-bag” it and come together for fellowship and a short encouraging presentation.
3. Community service. Call local service organizations to discover ways your members can reach out to the community. One group filled inexpensive nylon backpacks with nonperishables so each woman could carry some in her car to give to homeless people or someone on the corner with a sign asking for help.
4. Sports. Would some in your group enjoy an adult softball or soccer team? Find those athletic gals and help them join or form a league. I know of two people who came to know Jesus because they joined a sports team and discovered how genuine and kind Christians can be.
5. Book club. The discussions that take place because of reading the same book are deep, rich, and fun. Contact the author who might be willing to send signed book-plates for each member or might send you a video of encouragement.
The new year is a blank page. What will you and your team create?
White Chili with Penelope Carlevato
This white chili recipe has a total cooking time of just 30 minutes and cleanup is a breeze. To save time, buy grilled chicken or use leftovers from a whole chicken.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
chopped 1lb cooked chicken
cubed 3 (15 oz) cans white kidney beans
drained 1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
1 (4 oz) can green chili
diced 2 cups chicken broth
1½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
1½ tsp cumin
½ cup whipping cream or Half & Half
1 can cream of chicken soup
¼ cup crumbled bacon chopped cilantro to taste for garnish
Directions In a large pan, add olive oil and sauté onion. Add the chicken, beans, corn, chicken broth, chilies, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the whipping cream, soup and bacon.
Let sit for a few minutes, then ladle into soup bowls and garnish with cilantro. Serves 6
With the simple addition of a crusty loaf of French bread and a nice tossed green salad it makes the perfect meal that is easy on the pocketbook.
PENELOPE CARLEVATO is author of “Tea on the Titanic.” Recipe included in Leading Hearts magazine Leadinghearts.com
Article appeared in Leading Hearts magazine leadinghearts.com