Anyone who is involved in women’s ministry in a church today has on her heart the goal to reach people for God, and help move them into a deeper relationship with Him. I have no doubt about that absolutely.
The problem is that the way we go about women’s ministry often works in direct opposition to that goal. For instance, I think that in order for people to journey closer to God, they have to have two things:
1. Deeper friendships with other Christians
2. A chance to respond to God.
Most women’s events work directly against both of those aims, even if they don’t mean to.
I know normally on this blog I speak directly to women’s speakers, but I want to speak about organizing women’s events in this post, because often I find that as a speaker, women’s organizers rely on my advice quite frequently. So you, as the speaker, do often have an opportunity to impact how the event will play out. So let’s talk about what is often WRONG with women’s events.
1. They focus on talking AT you.
Too many events leave no time for any relationship building. They have special music and special features where people are supposed to listen, and then they have to listen to a speaker. Getting an evening away is tough for most women. We want it to be relaxing and rejuvenating. If we’re sitting there, just listening to others, we’re unlikely to feel rejuvenated, because what we most want is to connect with other women. That won’t happen if the whole evening is geared towards talking at us.
Ways around it: Have “hands-on” features where women do something together, like a spa night, a make-your-own wreath event, a craft night, or something. When we do things together, we forge friendships because we can laugh together.
Plan times for people to talk. Leave some free time for mingling or just playing games.
2. Ice breakers don’t focus on actually getting to know people.
Often the point of ice breakers is to have everyone talk to everyone. Not going to work. No one will remember everyone’s name! Instead, focus ice breakers on encouraging 4-6 women to talk about something, so you feel as if you have connected. Ask people to share stories, or do something funny. The most hilarious ice breaker I ever experienced was when 6 women were asked to perform a “synchronized swimming” event–without the water! We were given points for artistry and synchronization. I was at a table with women in their 50s and 60s, and it was still hilarious as we danced around in a circle, waving our arms. We laughed and laughed, and we needed that!
3. Little time is given for personal reflection
Too often, right after the speaker, they bring up a musician, sing one song, and then it’s done. It doesn’t matter how good the speaker was; if that’s the way the event ends, people will not carry the message home.
For a message to make an impact on a person’s life, that person has to OWN the message. They have to think about it. Chew it over. Even talk about it. From a speaker’s standpoint, I have great teaching on how to craft a message so that it invites people to journey towards God. But from an event planner’s standpoint, you can’t leave it entirely up to the speaker. You have to help her out! You have to give her time to direct the audience towards an encounter with God.
That doesn’t necessarily mean an altar call, if that’s not appropriate in a seeker’s service. But it could mean that after the message you give 3 minutes of quiet reflection time, where people can write something on a piece of paper to remind them of what has happened or what they have been thinking about (it’s amazing how writing something down solidifies it in your mind)! You can have people talk about a question for 10-15 minutes. When women talk about something, they internalize it! Or you can pray through several items. But please, give people time to assimilate the message. Don’t just end the message and assume that the women will keep mulling it over for the next week. You have to start the process right away by giving people a chance to respond, either by writing, by praying, or by talking. Own the message, and it will impact them. Hear the message only, and it likely will not.
If you are a speaker, then, and you are asked what you would like the evening to look like, ask the organizers to stress relationship. Give women a chance to talk, and talk meaningfully, with a handful of women. And ask them to give a response time. Discuss with them what type of response time would work best, and how that response time should be organized (and who should run it!). But make sure you talk about it. Closing the evening is actually the most important job, and frequently it’s the one we give the least amount of attention to. We focus on introductions and announcements, and not response. Focus on the response, and you just may find that your event has a much more powerful impact!
Sheila has lots of speaker training available, including a new Teleseminar coming up February 1 on How To Act Professionally in Your Speaking Ministry! We’ll cover setting fees, creating marketing materials, communicating with event organizers, and more! Get up to date information on upcoming training here!