A note from Kelly King: I love planning events. I love the creativity, the fun, the food, and the fellowship. Most of all, I love when events serve a purpose—something Shari Edwards points out in her article today. I pray you’ll see how purpose needs to be the key to making your next event effective. You can hear Shari teach at You Lead when we travel to Seattle March 20, 2020. For more information, click here.
Three years ago, on my first day of teaching a women’s ministry class made up of 22 college female students, I asked the question, “What do you think of when you think of women’s ministry?” A few students raised their hands and one by one, they gave me their honest impressions of what they perceive women’s ministry to be according to their experiences. Here are their answers: “It’s mostly for older women.” “You go to a lot of conferences.” “It’s tea parties and girly events.” The sad thing is, their answers did not surprise me.
The reason is because over the years, I have been aware of the tendency to drift toward what I call “event-driven ministry.” Don’t we love our events? It’s rewarding to plan events for our women. We love our fellowship and especially our food! And I do believe God gave women an extra spiritual gift—these women are hands down the best cooks!
However, when we look closely at the words of Jesus in Matthew 28, we don’t see him say “Go ye therefore … and plan events ….” Ouch. I’ll confess—as women who lead in ministry, we can sometimes find ourselves sidetracked by planning events for women rather than planning actual ministry to women. When planning events, we should always take the time and effort to consider the broader questions, “What is our spiritual aim? What are we trying to accomplish?”
Much of ministry involves planning events in some form or another. However, what if we changed our perspective? What if we approach our planning for the year from the perspective that we aren’t just planning activities, we are determining direction for spiritual health and growth among our women. How might that shift our focus? We have the opportunity to join in what God is doing in the lives of these women, and He is always in the process of producing spiritual fruit. Special events can be used to help plant spiritual seeds, to water, to prune, and to cultivate, resulting in the real spiritual growth God so desires to see among His women.
As we assess how we are implementing ministry to women through our events, we need to ask ourselves these questions:
- Are we accomplishing God’s vision and purpose?
- What is the spiritual goal we have in mind for our women this year? What do we want to see God do among the women in our church?
- How do our events tie in with the overall spiritual growth goals for the year?
- How are they tied to developing deeper community within our church and beyond our walls?
Instead of focusing on event-driven ministry, we need to aim our focus toward planning ministry-driven events. Whatever our experiences or backgrounds, it’s always helpful to step back as a team and take a fresh look at the role of special events in our women’s ministries. As we take steps to assess and evaluate our overall ministry strategies, here are a few tips as we consider how to effectively weave events into our spiritual growth goals:
PRAY: Before you begin to plan, and seek God’s direction.
God, what do You want us to do through this ministry to our women?
God, who do You want us to reach through this event?
God, how can You be glorified through this event?
God, how can we point women to Jesus through this event?
PURPOSE: Determine the “why” behind your event.
What is the purpose for the event? Is it for outreach in your community? Is it to provide an aspect of specific spiritual growth for your women? Is it to focus on testimony and worship? Is it to bring awareness to a cause? Is it to cultivate deeper community among your women?
PROCESS: Create a step-by-step plan for effectively coordinating this event.
Successful events don’t just happen accidentally. They require a big-picture vision combined with a detailed roadmap, a timeline, and a specific list of tasks that need to be effectively implemented. Most of all, they require a team of women working together in unity to accomplish what only God can do using their combined gifts. This is the beauty of the body of Christ!
PEOPLE: Focus on the target group of women you desire to reach with this event.
This step also involves promoting your event. We often assume that just because an event is planned and announced, women will automatically want to come. Research shows that even though we live in a time when we are more digitally connected, women feel more disconnected and isolated than ever before. We all crave personal connection; it’s that phone call or the smile and conversation in our everyday interactions that can make a difference in whether or not women feel included and invited. Involve new women to be part of the planning team. Be intentional about gathering a group of friends and personally inviting visitors or prospects. Women are just waiting for a personal invitation!
POTENTIAL: Set a goal of desired spiritual outcome for the event.
As God has led, as you have prayed, as your team has planned, what spiritual fruit do you want to see as a result of your event? Do you want to see deeper connection among your women? Do you want to see women sharing their stories with each other? Do you want to see your women diving into God’s Word together? Do you want to see intentional and real life discipleship taking place? Do you want to see your women reaching out to the community? Remember: God is always at work, and it’s spiritual progress He’s looking for in the hearts of His people.
Most importantly, it’s always about the PERSON of Jesus Christ. We can sometimes forget the WHO behind the WHY. We forget to let our women know the whole reason behind why we’ve gathered together—it’s because of Jesus. I can’t imagine the number of times we have completely ignored our Savior all the while we’ve gathered in His name. We forget to introduce Him to the women in attendance who may not know Him. We can leverage our events for the gospel when we allow our ministry purpose to influence our event strategy.
As we pray, plan, and proceed, we must not forget to assess and evaluate following each event. Evaluation provides direction for future planning because it allows opportunity for your team to identify areas of success as well as areas for improvement. It’s also helpful to invite the women to have a voice in the evaluation process. It’s important for your women to know their feedback (both positive and negative) is considered and appreciated. Ongoing evaluation helps your women’s ministry team stay in step with how God is moving among your women.
It’s exciting to consider all that God desires to do as we implement His vision for ministry to women! May we be women who keep our eyes on the Lord and our plans in step with His!
“Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the LORD’s decree will prevail.” —Proverbs 19:21
Shari is a wife of 31 years to her college sweetheart, mother of 3 sons and a beautiful daughter-in-law. She is also “Sibby” to 2 precious young granddaughters. She resides in North Little Rock, Arkansas, where she is involved in her community and an active member of Park Hill Baptist for 25 years. Shari currently serves as Adjunct Instructor of Women’s Ministry at Ouachita Baptist University Pruet School of Christian Studies. She has been active in Women’s Ministry leadership for over 20 years and currently serves as Coordinator for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Inspire Women’s Conference, and in the ABSC Women’s Ministry Leader Network. She served as the Hot Springs 2018 YouLead Coordinator. Shari is currently enrolled in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Leavell College and pursuing a Women’s Ministry Certificate. She pursues freelance consulting in women’s ministry leadership, speaking, and writing opportunities and loves to encourage women of all ages to grow in everyday life through a closer walk with God and with each other!