A note from Kelly King: I’m thrilled to introduce you to a new contributor to the blog. Kathy Howard has been writing and leading Bible studies for several years, so she has seen firsthand the ways God’s Word impacts women. This is an article that’s extremely important if you’ve asked an outside speaker to come to your church for an event. I know you’ll find this article helpful as you lead.
Not long ago I spoke at a women’s retreat in another state. When I arrived at the hotel, a few members of the women’s ministry team were gathered around the registration table in “panic mode.” Several things had gone wrong at the last minute, the nametags were missing, and a snowstorm was rolling in.
You know what? The women who attended didn’t even notice any of these things. They enjoyed the fellowship and God’s Word ministered to their hearts. The weekend was wonderful—snowstorm and all—because the women’s ministry team had focused on the most important things.
As women, we love all the special touches at an event. But decorations, door prizes, and cupcakes made to look like high heels are like fancy wrapping on a package. It’s the contents in the package—the spiritual message and personal ministry—your women will take home.
This women’s team made sure the content of the event met the needs of their women by providing me with everything I needed to prepare and taking good care of me while I was there. They enabled me to carry out my ministry to the best of my ability.
Want your event to meet the needs of your women? Use these tips to help your speaker minister as effectively as possible to them.
1. Give her one contact. More than likely, your speaker is working with multiple churches at a time. If every member of your team contacts her about different aspects of the event, it only distracts her from her task. Appoint one woman on your team to be the speaker’s contact. Then let her handle all communication with your speaker.
2. Pray for her. Your speaker needs your prayers both before and during the event. She may have spiritual struggles, family issues, or illness. Be purposeful by putting it on your event to-do list. Ask your team to join you in praying for her and help them know how to pray. For instance, pray for her message preparation, her physical needs, her spiritual protection and growth, her message delivery and effectiveness, and her wisdom and discernment as she ministers to your women.
3. Remember her job description. Over the years, I’ve been asked for decorating input, sample retreat schedules, and help with technology. Even though I don’t mind helping when I can, it does take me away from my primary task—preparing the message from God’s Word. Your speaker probably has multiple women’s events for multiple churches on her calendar. Help her keep her focus on her God-given task. Don’t ask for her opinion on the food or with games.
4. Diffuse any “landmines.” A couple of years ago, I was half-way through a retreat when one of the members of the ministry team told me the church had recently discovered their pastor was having an affair. I quickly reflected on the talk I’d already given. Had I said anything that would have poured salt in the wound? Make your speaker aware of any big issues happening in your church or with any of the women in attendance that could affect her messages or her interaction with the women before she comes.
5. Give her the demographics. The more your speaker knows about your women, the better she can target the message. Give her details like age range, level of spiritual maturity, and church background. Are most of them stay-at-home moms? Or do they work outside the home? Is your church in an affluent suburb or the inner city?
6. Share the purpose of the event. Make your speaker aware of the primary reason you’re holding the event. Is the event your big, annual outreach event or a retreat for spiritual renewal? The nature of the event greatly affects not only your speaker’s message, but her delivery as well. She wants to help you reach your goal.
7. Set aside a “ministry area.” When I speak at a women’s event, my ministry task goes beyond just voicing a message. I believe God has me there to minister to the spiritual needs of the women in attendance. Yes, that’s giving the message, but it’s also praying and talking with women one on one. But that requires a quiet corner. Set aside a spot like a separate room or a discreet corner where your speaker can meet individually with women.
8. Enable her larger ministry. Many women’s speakers bring books and other materials to your event. Provide outgoing, dependable women to run her product table so she can focus on your women. Bless your speaker by telling the audience about the book table yourself and encouraging them to visit it. Many speakers feel awkward “marketing” themselves. Do it for her so she can minister freely.
9. Watch for “monopolizers.” You know these ladies because they’ve also demanded a lot of your time. Whether she wants to share her life story, pour out all her problems, or talk to your speaker about how she can get into speaking too, you may need to run interference so all your ladies have an opportunity to connect with your speaker.
10. Provide a private sleeping room and bathroom. Many speakers ask for this in their speaking agreement. It’s not that she is “anti-social” or demanding (usually anyway!). No, your speaker needs a quiet, private place where she can go to pray and prepare to speak to your ladies.
Your speaker longs to be effective. She desires for God to use her in the lives of your women. You can help her help them.
A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher Kathy Howard now lives an unshakeable faith for life and encourages other women to embrace real, authentic faith. Kathy, who now lives in the Dallas area with her husband and three dogs, has a Masters of Religious Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. She is the author of eight books and Bible studies, including 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.