Last week I had the privilege of training more than 20 new women’s ministry leaders from across the country and Canada. They came from churches whose worship attendance averages between 30 and 3,000. For two and a half days, these leaders were introduced to resources, networked with others, and were taught practical ways to engage women in discipleship, team building, and ministering to women in crisis.
As we enjoyed dinner one evening I curiously asked them one simple question. “Did you personally pay your way to get to Nashville?” Every single one of them looked at me and said, “Yes.” I continued to probe. “Does your pastor know you are doing this?” Some said yes, but they all agreed that it wasn’t seen as a priority. As one woman sadly said, “I’m not even sure he cares.”
Let me be honest. I’ve been in ministry for many years, running the range of being a volunteer to being on staff full time. I’ve never seen a pastor or other staff members pay their own way for leadership development. Personally, my church provided many opportunities for me to attend conferences, but it broke my heart that these women did not feel validated by their pastor.
As a ministry leader, how can you help your pastor validate your ministry? Here are four ways you can get more buy-in from your pastor.
1. Communicate verbally. Don’t assume he knows what is happening in your ministry. If you are a volunteer, chances are that you aren’t part of a staff meeting. Instead, make sure you keep your pastor or other staff members aware of what is happening.
2. Communicate through the written word. If you invest in leadership development or attend an equipping event, write a report about what you learned and how you plan to use what you learned.
3. Share resources you received. If you attend a conference and receive free resources or resources that will benefit your pastor, make sure he is included.
4. Plan a time to share what you learned with the women in your church, or at least your leadership team. Help them experience your excitement. Better yet, plan a follow up opportunity to take more women to the next leadership conference. It’s easier to get buy-in when everyone has the opportunity for training.
Finally, sometimes we don’t receive because we don’t ask. The next time you plan to attend leadership training, be bold and ask your church leadership if they can help pay for some of it or even all of it. You just might be surprised.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.