Monthly Tips

These tips for 2008 include some of the same ideas from 2007. If you used some of the ideas in 2007, take time to evaluate how they worked. Remember if they failed, do an “autopsy” to find the cause. While no one likes to fail, failures are great learning tools, if we’ll face and learn from them. If the idea is continued for 2008, additional comments are in green.
Mission Statement Gathering women
Resourcing opportunities
Offering acceptance
Winning women to Jesus
Teaching biblical truths
Honoring the spirit-filled life
Purpose Statement To know God personally
To grow in Christlikeness
To discover and use spiritual gifts
To love and serve others
And in all we do to reflect the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

These monthly suggestions designed to help plan events for Women’s Ministries, reflect and fulfill the mission and purpose statements.

January – Gathering Women

Personal idea – Encourage women to become better acquainted with a neighbor or co-worker. Too often we become involved with the tasks at hand, family responsibilities, and other time demands and we forget to form relationships. We need to form friendships so we can earn the right to share our faith.

Recently I read the book unChristian by David Kinnaman. Drawing from the research conducted by the Barna group, Kinnaman shares what he discovered concerning the perceptions of “outsiders” [the term used in the book to identify the people who didn’t fit the definition of Christian] related to Christianity and Christians. We have an image problem. Some of the causes are beyond our control; others, however, we can work to change.

This is especially true for January’s tip. Some neighbors and co-workers think Christians only develop relationships with them to convert them. As you present this idea, discuss this possibility. We need to form relationships because we like the people, have common interests, and many other reasons.

While helping neighbors and co-workers begin a relationship with Jesus Christ is a motivating factor, we must also be sure we’re committed to the relationship—whether or not they come to Christ. We must remember that seeds planted today many not come to fruition on our timeline. We may influence children who remember a kind neighbor as they begin their journey into adulthood.

Mom’s Day of Prayer—January 20.  It may be too late to plan a formal event, but we can join other moms in praying for children. Visit their web site at www.momsdayofprayer.com for more information.


Group idea – Talk with the women in your congregation. Develop some tools for sharing their faith with neighbors, friends, and co-workers. What type of event could you develop that would encourage the women to invite non-Christian friends, neighbors, and co-works to attend? While this event will be unique to your community, here are some suggestions:
Nutrition—how to make healthy and flavorful meals
Exercise—offer an aerobics class or set a time to exercise together
Service—consider a community project
Another idea—purse, manufacturer’s coupon, and/or children’s clothing exchange

February – To Know God Personally
Personal idea – Encourage women to examine their spiritual lives. Where are they on their spiritual journey? Are there areas of their spiritual life that need work? Consider using a devotional book, a different version of the Bible, starting a journal, meditating on God’s work, etc.

John Wesley used small groups to encourage spiritual growth and development. You’ll hear more about this at the Discipleship Summit. During the “class” sessions, participants were asked these questions:
1.    Where are you spiritually?
2.    Are you doing or not doing what God asked you to do?
3.    What opportunities have you had for service and witnessing?  How did you do with them?
4.    What temptations have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Tough questions—but in the safety of a small group, they can help us to mature spiritually. You may find it easier to start the small group with a book discussion to give the participants time to develop a sense of community. One book suggestion is Silent God by Joe Bentz and available through NPH.


Group idea – If you have a monthly gathering, divide the women into groups of four or five. Ask the questions listed above. Have the women pray for each other now and to covenant to pray for one another for the month. Schedule a time within the next month for a spiritual “check-up.”
 
March – Resourcing Opportunities
Personal idea – As we begin to think about spring, cleaning closets comes to mind. What resources do you have in your home that you could share with others? De-clutter closets by giving gently used clothing to a relief organization in your town. Involve your children by encouraging them to give out-grown toys, too.

St. Patrick’s Day, Good Friday, and Easter fall within days of each other this year. Use this opportunity to research and study St. Patrick. Use the shamrock to teach about the Trinity. A web search will lead to information.

Group idea – As your congregation observes the Lenten Season, reflect on ways Women’s Ministries can demonstrate Christlikeness to the community. Consider a service project or outreach event, such as working with a local organization to improve the community, etc.

April – To grow in Christlikeness

Personal idea –There is an old adage—if you were convicted of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Consider how Christlike your life is. What areas do you need to surrender to Christ? What traits do you need to develop? If you were part of a small group in February, ask this group to pray with you about the areas you identified.

This is a good time to do a relationship check-up. Refer to the comments in January’s tip. What progress are you making? What challenges have you experienced? What highpoints? 

Group idea – What resources do the women in your congregation have to share with others?
Develop a list of gifts and talents women are wiling to share or barter in exchange for other services. This could be cooking a meal, tutoring, teaching a craft, babysitting, respite care relief, etc. What Bible study, small group study, or other resources does your group have that could be shared with other churches on your district?

May – Offering acceptance

Personal idea – Whether we want to admit it or not, many of us have unacknowledged prejudices. Do a self-inventory to identify your prejudices. As the Holy Spirit brings awareness, we must confront and change these biases and prejudices. Devise a plan to eliminate them so you can offer acceptance in Christlike compassion to everyone you encounter.

Remember the book unChristian by David Kinnaman? One of the words used to describe Christians by “outsiders” was judgmental. Often our prejudices cause us to be judgmental. Really listen to your conversations among your church friends. If you were an “outsider”, how comfortable would you be? Would you understand the conversation? Where there unintended comments or phrases used that might be offense to “outsiders”?

Group idea – Mother’s Day is a difficult time for many women. As you plan events to honor mothers, remember the women for whom Mother’s Day is another painful reminder of an unfulfilled dream. Also remember those women who have strained relationship with their mothers. Make this year’s Mother’s Day celebration a both/and event—honoring mothers and offering compassion to those whose dreams of motherhood haven’t been fulfilled. 

June – To discover and use spiritual gifts

Personal idea – What are your spiritual gifts and talents? Even if you haven’t taken a spiritual gifts inventory, you probably have a good concept of your strengths and weaknesses. CLT (Continuing Lay Training) offers a module “Called to Serve” at http://clt.nazarene.org/calledToServe/index.htm

CLT will be offering more online modules in the future on various topics including spiritual gifts, God’s will, and more. You can CLICK HERE to view the online module page.  You will need to register before viewing the modules.

Here are two web sites that offer free spiritual gift inventories, if you haven’t taken one.
http://elca.org/evangelism/assessments/spiritgifts.html
http://www.churchgrowth.org/cgi-cg/gifts.cgi?intro=1
Ask the Lord to show you where you can “practice” your gift this month.

Summer is an ideal time to plan for fall ministries. You may want to consider the possibility of developing small groups for women. For a list of helpful web sites and suggested resources, email Women's Ministries.

As you plan for fall Bible Studies, consider how the participants are using and applying what they learn to their lives. We often have more information than we use. Consider adding this question to each Bible Study lesson: How does this week’s lesson apply to my life?


Group idea – Many ministries slow down for the summer months; this may be a good time to do an inventory of spiritual gifts. Encourage women as they seek for ways to use their gifts and talents. As women begin to use their spiritual gifts and talents, encourage them to use the summer months to serve as a substitute in an existing area of ministry. This can help these ministries survive challenges the summer months and the vacation create.

July – Winning women to Jesus

Personal idea – What are some things you could do to encourage non-believers to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ? What are some acts of kindness you can do? Are you prepared to share your story of how God has worked in your life? Does your life reflect Christlikeness? The following suggestions can help you be prepared for sharing your beliefs:

•    Write your story of coming to faith in Christ and then practice telling the story. Make it personal and short. 
•    Learn a new way to share the scriptures to lead someone to Christ.
•    Identify a person in your area of influence with whom you can renew or begin developing a friendship. How can you show Christlike love and acceptance to that person?
•    Ask the women from your small group in February to pray for and with you.

Here is another insight from the book unChristian by David Kinnaman. “Outsiders” often reacted negatively when they felt Christians were interjecting scriptures whether it was related to the topic or not. That is, they often felt Christians have to interject some Christianese into every conversation.

Remember that Christianity is a lifestyle. Therefore, it will affect and influence every part of our lives. A wise Christian said that we should spread Christianity as much as possible—and use words when necessary. The adage about talk and walk matching fits well.

“See You at the Pole” is a student-initiated, student-organized, and student-led event. That means this is all about students meeting at their school flagpole to pray—for their school, friends,teachers, government, and their nation. This event is scheduled for the fourth Wednesday in September. For more information, visit the web site at www.syatp.com

To encourage and support students, some churches are also open for parents and concerned adults to pray for the teens as they make a public statement. Consider the possibility of working with other churches in your community as teens prepare for this event.


Group idea – Plan a relaxed, casual gathering for the women in your congregation. Use this time to become better acquainted as you offer a place for women to tell their stories. Encourage the women to tell their stories to others, too.

Consider how you could make this gathering attractive, inviting, and comfortable (safe place) to invite non-believers. One suggestion is a “spa day.”  Pamper the women with homemade facials, foot scrubs, etc. Include a lite lunch or cool, refreshing snack. Encourage the women to share stories of how God is at work in the lives. Share how God has worked in lives to soften hearts just as they have soften their hands with lotion or how God has removed the old self just as they have removed their old skin with a facial. As your guests hear the stories of God at work in your life, they may begin to see how God is working in their lives, too.

August – To love and serve others

Personal idea – As you prepare your children for going back to school, consider buying a few extra school supplies to share with families who are less fortunate. If you don’t have children or your children have graduated high school, consider contacting your local school system to see if there are supplies you can provide.

As you prepare for the beginning of a new school year, remember the “I Care About Children” initiative. Working with the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, Women’s Ministries has developed a resource booklet. To request a copy, email Women's Ministries.

Remember to consider plans for “See You at the Pole” on September 24, 2008.


Group idea – Most churches have families that struggle to provide all the school supplies necessary for their children to begin a new school year. Use August as a time to make people in your church aware of the need and give them the opportunity to purchase and/or give money for school supplies. If there is an organization in your community that provides this service, contact them and ask for ways your congregation can assist their effort.

September – Teaching biblical truths

Personal idea – If you not part of a Bible study, consider joining one. If your congregation is small, consider hosting or leading a Bible Study Group. Check www.nph.com for Bible Study resources.

Group idea – Fall is a great time to begin a Bible study group. Check www.nph.com for resources. Consider creating a group for mothers of pre-school children. Use sessions to equip young moms with the biblical truths and practical skills needed to build a strong, spiritual heritage for their children.

Consider watching the DVD Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and his campaign against slavery. After watching the DVD, consider your community and the social injustices it experiences. What actions can you take to make a difference?

Mom’s Day of Prayer is January 17, 2009. Consider adding this day to your Women’s Ministries calendar. For more information, go to www.momsdayofprayer.com for more information.


October – And in all we do to reflect the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ

Personal idea – For those of us who live in an area that experiences the colors of autumn as leaves change, we see daily reminders of God’s creativity and nature’s beauty. Beauty is one facet of the Lord Jesus Christ that isn’t limited to our physical beauty. God’s love at work in us gives a beauty of its own. Think about your life—does it reflect the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ? Remember that prayer group from February? Ask them to pray for and with you about areas in your life that need work.

Make plans to minister to someone who is sick or lonely. Perhaps the mother of pre-schooler needs some adult conversation or a baby-sitter so she can have some alone time.
 
Group idea –Those colorful leaves that accompany the arrival of autumn also fall to the ground. Raking leaves may be a challenge for the elderly or ill members of your congregation. Have Women’s Ministries lead an all-church work day to assist the elderly or ill with maintenance projects. It’s also a great way for the families in your church to become better acquainted. Consider having a wiener roast at the end the workday. Sing some campfire songs, too!

Thanksgiving falls in October for Canada. As you plan your celebrations and gatherings, remember those in need. Develop plans to minister to them this month.

November is national elections for the United States. Christians represents a wide diversity of political perspectives. Regardless of our political thoughts, we want the best for the United States. World-wide information is readily available. What happens in one country has a ripple affect for the rest of the world. Make October and the time until elections a time of prayer for all countries.


November – Honoring the spirit-filled life

Personal idea – Think about the people who have influenced your spiritual growth, development, and formation. Write, email, or call them to let them know how much you appreciate their lives and influence.

Group idea – November can be a busy month as families prepare for Thanksgiving gatherings and begin to plan for the Christmas season. Take some time to honor the saints in your congregation. If you have a meeting, make it a time for these saints to tell their stories of God’s faithfulness.

Thanksgiving falls in November for the United States. As you plan your celebrations and gatherings, remember those in need. Develop plans to minister to them this month.

November is national elections for the United States. Christians represents a wide diversity of political perspectives. Regardless of our political thoughts, we want the best for the United States. World-wide information is readily available. What happens in one country has a ripple affect for the rest of the world. Continue to pray for all countries.



December – Think Christmas
Personal idea – With all the busyness of the Christmas season, it is so easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas—the celebration of Jesus’ birth. As you plan family activities for this month, be sure to include activities that commemorate Jesus’ birth (i.e. an Advent Calendar, reading the Christmas story, etc.). Another option is to assist a local ministry through time or monetary donations. Giving to others through local groups that provide for the less fortunate is a great model of Christlike behavior for your children.

Group idea – Encourage the women in your congregation to look for ministry opportunities throughout the Christmas season. Delivering homemade goodies and Christmas cards (that depict the true Christmas story) to neighbors, friends, and co-workers is an easy way to share your faith. Christmas emails and phone calls work well, too.

Encourage less-involved women to help with the children’s Christmas presentation. It tells the children they are important. Some may choose to work with the teens and young people to find a way to serve the community during this time of year. Giving the gift of your time to any group of people within the church or community tells them you care and value them.

Kerrie Palmer included this information in one of her daily devotionals. 
    "Did you know that Christmas was canceled in England in the 1640s? An extreme amount of time and money were expended on the day. Celebrating in excess became a normal component of the season. The government decided to cancel Christmas so that the people would focus on Christ."

Consider this thought and encourage the women in your ministry to remember that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Gift giving, parties, gatherings, decorating, and many other things make Christmas a busy and hectic time. While they all have a place, let’s share the joy of Jesus’ birth and how His grace, mercy, and love have transformed our lives.