“I hope we can go back to normal soon.”
Have you heard that statement recently? I admit I like the idea of a routine in our crazed and dysfunctional world. But I have to admit; I’m not too fond of the idea of going back. Ever.
Going back feels like we have lost hope in the future and seems like the wrong direction. We need to be looking forward instead. Let’s move ahead.
Maybe it will be a new normal, or the future will be more chaotic, but hope embraces the future, not the past.
The book of Isaiah said, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV).
Many women’s ministry directors in churches across America read this column. They have written to me to talk about their ministry situations. Many asked what to do about the limits of the pandemic.
It hasn’t been easy or fun, has it?
Small group activities have been canceled or moved online, and significant events, such as retreats or conferences, were postponed—some indefinitely.
As each state or region has opened up in varying degrees, women’s ministry directors have asked all the questions:
- Do we start our small group activities and Bible studies in person again?
- What about those in our group who feel they must isolate because of health reasons?
- How do we encourage our women to attend in person?
- Do we plan a big event knowing the possibility of having to postpone again?
- Do we try the same kinds of activities again, or do we start something new?
While some have considerable support from pastoral leadership, others do not.
Finding a way to start again is challenging and unpredictable.
A recent survey of women’s ministry directors proves that uncertainty is fundamental. They are solving the problem in various ways:
1) About half are moving ahead with in-person small group and study group events
2) About a fourth are continuing online meetings
3) A small number of available technology incorporate online with in-person groups to meet all needs.
4) About 80% of those who planned a big event (retreat or conference) before COVID are moving forward by rescheduling the speakers and musicians.
5) Those who did not have anything planned when the lockdowns started have been slow to design anything new.
These groups stated the following reasons for their reluctance:
- We haven’t regrouped enough to plan something
- We are worried a new variant will shut us down
- Let’s see what others were doing before we planned a new event.
- How do we start over?
- Some of our leaders have dropped out.
What is a leader to do?
We encourage you to renew your hope and strength. Here are some ideas.
1) Revive your passion for women’s ministry by meeting with women one-on-one or in groups of four or five. Listen to their needs and desires. What programs can you lead to meet their needs?
2) Meet with your pastoral leadership team, asking them for support—spiritually and financially.
3) Call each of your former team members to obtain a commitment for the future. Recruit new team members.
4) Using a calendar, plan a regular event to encourage the women of your church. The most successful programs are churches that have regularly scheduled events. One church has a Christmas event on the first Saturday of December every year. One group has a girl’s night out once a quarter. On church plans two events a year. Plan these more significant events around a solid program for small groups and study groups.
5) Invite an outside speaker to come to the event. The pandemic has negatively affected all Christian speakers. Those canceled events were their livelihood and their ministry. I promise these talented and anointed, and powerful speakers are ready to bring God’s word and powerful messages of hope and healing to your ladies’ group. Reach out to them. Bringing in a person from outside the church will generate excitement with your organization in a fresh new way.
HOPE in the future is the indispensable ingredient for leaders.
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24, version).
If you need encouragement or ideas, reach out to me at email@example.com. Let’s move forward!