Your Women’s Ministry: First Day of School
By Julia Bettencourt
Remember all those first days of school you had when you were a kid? Every year the first day was always so scary. Well, usually. Sometimes when you get a little older it doesn’t bother you as much, you just want to get back to school and see your friends. But those “first days” are different for everyone. Each of my own children react to their “first days” of school each year differently than the other, but still a first day is an important day all around.
I was thinking about that and about how many emails I get from those new women’s ministry leaders or those who haven’t done it in awhile and have been put back in that position. They get really nervous about that first get-together, meeting, or event. It can be a scary thing. We can become nervous and excited about it all at one time.
Here’s a few “First Day of School” Helps for you to try.
* Start With A Smile.
I can remember some of my teachers from when I was in school and the ones I remember that I liked the best were the ones that were always smiling and treated me like I was special. I think that’s so important for a first meeting. Greet your ladies like they are special and give them a smile.
* Go Over The Rules.
You may not want to sound too strict and overbearing but let your ladies know how you’d like events and meetings run and business carried out.
A few things like
* Talking Issues.
Remind them that although you love fellowship that they should be courteous while others are giving prayer requests or someone else is talking. I know they are not children but face it, when you have a number of ladies together at one time they will talk when they shouldn’t. We just naturally do that. I find myself doing it sometimes and I’m not trying to be rude. I just like to talk 🙂
* Chain of Command.
Let them know the chain of command for things within your women’s ministry such as purchasing things, planning things, who is authorized to do certain things.
* Being On Time.
Let them know how important and valuable everyone’s time is and that you will be starting right on time no matter who is late. Let them know they won’t be waited on so encourage them to attend your meetings and events on time.
* Get Helpers.
Start right out with Helpers. Boy I loved it when I’d get to be the helper in grade school. My children love it too. When they are the ‘helper of the week’ or ‘day’ or whatever, they seem to just revel in it. As a leader you will need helpers in a lot of areas. Some helpers you may want to take a long while to pray about and decide on when it’s a more serious job or position, but having ladies pitch in and do simple chores is not so hard. Allow them to use their gifts and serve in the body of Christ. Helpers for taking attendance, meeting notes, passing out papers, serving coffee are great jobs for helpers.
Don’t do it all yourself! Kids like to be a part of the “class” and I’ve found that adults do as well. Especially on the “first day of school” or your first meeting as leader or first meeting after a long break, you don’t want to seem to be the only thing on the agenda.
* Have Your Space Ready
Teachers spend a lot of planning and preparation well before school starts to fix up charts, decorations, and bulletin boards. If you have a space that you are able to use make have some personality, have that ready for your “first day of school”. I know some ladies groups have to use Sunday School rooms and spaces that you cannot do anything to the walls, etc. I understand that. But if you can, having a soothing, clean, neat, and appealing space can make that first meeting more comfortable.
Some of you may already have clean and neat rooms but for those of you who have to meet in a room that hasn’t been used in awhile and things need sprucing up, it will make a big difference to have that done before your first day back. You will feel more at ease starting out in a comfortable space. If you can’t do anything to the space, display a welcome back sign or something fun for your ladies. You may want to make up some fun signs pointing the way to your space. Let them anticipate getting there.
* Be Flexible
No matter how much planning and working out of your agenda that you have done, things don’t always go as planned, so be flexible.
* Send Take Home Papers.
Be sure to send home any calendars for scheduled meetings and events and anything else you think is important to keep before your ladies. Let them know right at the beginning what’s going on.
* Don’t Be In A Hurry.
After you’ve finished your first get-together, allow some time at the end of that first meeting for your ladies to ask you one on one question after you break up from the group. Don’t be in a hurry to rush out on your first day back. Your ladies will have questions about, “How are you going to do this? Will we be doing this year? When is this?, etc., etc.
I have found as a rule that treating my ladies special, no matter what group I was working with, makes them feel important. They appreciate it when you allow them time to talk to you as a leader. It makes them feel like you value what they have to say. It’s the same thing like when we were kids; the teachers that listened were the best ones.
I did not even mention here all the things that you need to have in place ahead of time, like prayer and organization, but I just wanted to share a few things that have always helped me get off to a better start.
Copyright 2009 Julia Bettencourt