Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist, Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead, and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
My young adult son works for a university, and one of his assignments is conducting ropes course challenges for various groups. Many times these groups include corporate teams, school groups, and even firefighters who must continue to learn the value of working together to achieve the mission of their organization. Not only is his work fun, but it’s also highly purposeful.
It’s not much different than how you lead a ministry team. To be an effective leader, you need to consider how you strengthen the team through time, resources, and spending time together. Jesus led a team of 12 very unlikely disciples, yet He was intentional in the ways He spent time with them, instructed them, and empowered them. They ate together, worshipped together, and learned a lot about the kingdom of God through instruction, storytelling, and life experiences. There’s nothing like living through a storm on the Sea of Galilee to bring a team closer together!
Summer is a great opportunity to consider how you can strengthen your team and do something a little out of the ordinary to bring your group together. Recently, I spent a couple of days with women from across the country who serve as LifeWay Women Trainers. Some of them were new to the group, and some were seasoned veterans. As we considered the year ahead, I recognized five ways I work to strengthen this team as well as the volunteer team I lead in my local church. These are simple things you can incorporate as you move forward during this season when you might have a little more time.
1. Play games together. For the more serious-minded person, this may seem like a waste of time. But when games have a purpose, they can provide an exchange of ideas and reveal a lot about one another’s personalities and life experiences. Some ideas might include ways to get to know one another, but some might provide opportunities for competition. One of the ways I recently did this was by purchasing inexpensive toys and placing them in a large basket. Each team member was given a name and they had to choose one of the toys and present it in front of the group as an award. I was amazed at the creativity of each team member and the ways they encouraged one another. It was definitely a highlight of our meeting.
2. Schedule a longer time than normal team meetings. Building teamwork and bonding together does take time, so find several hours or even a day when your team can focus on items that need more attention. Maybe it’s a scheduled retreat where you focus on your purpose or long-range plan, but an extended period of time allows for collaboration and more time to process. My women’s ministry team at church is fairly new, and our one-hour meetings haven’t often lent themselves for long-range planning. We’ve already scheduled a longer summer meeting away from our church in order to make extensive plans for the coming year. If you can schedule a longer meeting, allow time for spiritual reflection and directed devotional times that help your team focus on the task ahead.
3. Consider how you celebrate and feed your team. This may seem like an unnecessary part of team building, but don’t discount the importance of good food and fun. Conversations and relationships are built around dinner tables and breaks where your team can move around and relax. For my trainer update, I provided custom cookies to commemorate a new resource, and we spent one evening making candles at a nearby store. The laughter and the friendships formed over food and fun create a stronger and more connected team. Summer is also a great time to celebrate everything that was accomplished by your team, so consider ways you can celebrate what the Lord has already done before you dive into the next project or plan.
4. Provide helpful resources to equip your team. Whether it’s a new book, a Bible study, or a variety of sample resources for your team to review, your team should be given the proper tools to grow in their own leadership development. One of the things I did in my recent meeting was based on several leadership books I have read in the past year. I knew I couldn’t afford to give everyone four books, so I bought a few of each book and gave women the opportunity to choose the one they wanted to read. I also encouraged them to read the book and then pass it on to another woman when they finished so they could have access to another one. Hopefully within the year, everyone on the team will have the opportunity to read all four books—and I just invested in the cost of one per person! In addition, we also spent time hearing from others who have expertise in various subjects and learning about new resources. Whether it was information about LifeWay’s new marriage resource called Woo Marriage or the new FLOURISH mentoring materials, the team got to hear from different voices about various subjects.
5. Attend a conference together. Earlier this spring, I invited my women’s ministry team from my church to attend a You Lead conference that LifeWay Women offers. It’s a day of breakout sessions, worship, and general sessions that are designed to help grow every woman’s leadership potential. Our team came back excited and encouraged with new ideas and a renewed commitment to what the Lord can do as we minister to women. Because You Lead events are in several cities each year, check to see if there’s one near you and bring your team. If you’re looking for a longer and fuller experience, consider attending the LifeWay Women’s Leadership Forum November 7-9 in the Nashville area. It’s two and a half days packed with all kinds of encouragement and equipping opportunities. This event is known to sell out and the early bird rate of $175 is good through August 7, so plan now to bring your team!
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Kelly King is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for LifeWay Women. She has a Master of Theology degree from Gateway Seminary. She has been involved in women’s ministry and led Bible studies for more than 30 years. A native Oklahoman, Kelly and her husband Vic enjoy kayaking and exploring their new state of Tennessee. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide to Leading Women in the Local Church and Living By Faith: Women Who Trusted God.