As a parent of kids of varying ages, from High School to Elementary School, finding new devotion books that encompasses the needs of my entire family is hard.  If I shop with my teenager in mind, it ends up being too deep for my youngest.  However, if I shop with my youngest in mind… my teenager is usually bored to tears.

When I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of Mission Accomplished, thanks to New Growth Press, I was very impressed.

1)  The book covers two weeks of devotions, specifically written for Easter.  This is a book I reference year, after year.

2)  Each devotion starts with scripture, that supports the devotion theme.  It is followed with sections that encourage us to think about the context of the scripture, discussion questions, prayer prompts and even songs or activities to support that particular devotion.

3)  The devotions are quick and to the point, which is good for shorter attention spans or those with busy schedules.

4) The devotions are written in a way that will engage your older children, but can be explained by the parents when needed.

Overall, this is a great book for the family who spans a broad array of ages.  That said, if your family is predominantly young children, you may want to read the devotions ahead and reword to fit the age group you are working with.  You will find some words that your children may not be familiar with (depending on the verbiage your church uses), some of the discussion questions are better suited for older children who have a background of Sunday school classes, and some of the songs referenced in the “Sing About It” portions were not familiar to me.  This devotion is definitely written for a more seasoned believer, in my opinion.

I do love this devotion, and with all of the tools we have available; simply pre-reading the devotion can help identify areas you might want to brush up on before sitting down with the family.  Since they are short, you can skim it relatively quickly and use your bible or the internet to define unfamiliar words, or even look up the music for the songs.

Do not be intimidated to pick up this devotion, even if some of the references are unfamiliar to you as a new believer.  It will help your grow, understanding the Easter story better, and more accurately.  The devotions are not overwhelming and they do a great job of tying in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

If you are looking for a good devotion for the family, one that you can learn from & teach from… check out Scott James’ A Mission Accomplished.

Women’s Ministry – Everyone Has an Opinion

As a member of the leadership team for our Women’s Ministry, I have spent a lot of time researching the subject.  We want to make sure that we offer activities that interest the women of our church.  We want to account for the various ages, stages of life, marital statuses, and availability of the women who make up our body.  At the same time, we must find balance with the church schedule and other ministries.  A ministry should not overwhelm the calendar, but meet the needs of those whom the ministry is intended to serve.

We can not please all the people… all of the time.    We can, however, please some of the people some of the time.

What is interesting to me, as I researched the subject of Women’s Ministry over the years, is that there are a LOT of opinions on what IS and ISN’T an effective Women’s Ministry.  There are open letters, on blogs, about what we don’t need.  Things like fancy brunches, with hired in speakers.  We don’t want fluff, we want substance.  Deeper studies, testimonies, formal education, accountability, prayer groups, etc.

On the other hand, you will find women who are happy with their Sunday services and small groups, who are looking for social connections.  They want to fellowship, build long lasting friendships and create community.  If you try and research Women’s Ministry on the internet, I promise you…

You will be more confused than you started.

So, what DOES an effective Women’s Ministry look like?  How do we really know what Women’s Ministry looks like, for our church?

1) Ask Your Church –  This may seem like a no-brainer, but really it is the easiest and most over looked starting place.  You don’t have to sit down with a team of women, and decide what you think the women want out of the women’s ministry.  A simple or complex survey is always a great starting place.  It also gives you are great way to find out what women from your church want to help.  Not everyone is called to a leadership position, but many are willing to be the hands and feet when needed.

Also, be sure to ask your Church Leadership.  It is important to know from the staff, what the vision the Church has for the ministry.  What is their “measure of success” and also what would their concerns & boundaries for the ministry look like.  Nothing can hamper a ministry like the lack of communication between the team and the church leaders

2) Reference, but Don’t Imitate Other Churches –  A great starting point for building a ministry is to look at what other churches in your area, denomination or similar size to your church are doing.  However, I would caution you to not make your Women’s Ministry identical to their ministry.  The women of your church, they may want something entirely different.  However, knowing what other churches are doing will give you a launching point. 

3)  Start with Variety – In the beginning have a calendar that offers some variety.  You may have events on weekdays, weeknights, weekends, one day retreats, or weekend long get away.  Your activities may include brunches, ladies night out, dinners, movies, bible studies, community service, church service, etc.  Have events where baby sitting is provided (for free or a small fee), and have events where there is no baby sitting provided.  Variety helps you reach the whole body of women, but over the course of time with different events.

4)  Review Every Event You Hold – Establish a guideline for your ministry, something that you measure every event against.  It might be guideline the church leadership suggested, a verse, a mission statement, or even establish a scoring system with the ministry team.  When each event is over, run it by this guideline & determine if it was a success.  If it was a success and meets the criteria your ministry established, repeat it again.  If there was low attendance or the outcome wasn’t what you expected, you know to let it go (at least for the immediate future). 

It’s easy to write an open letter about what YOU want in a Women’s Ministry.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  However, what YOU need, and what the woman sitting a few pews away from you needs… may be entirely different.

The best way to impact your Women’s Ministry doesn’t begin in open letters on the internet, but instead starts when you join the team.