WAKE FOREST — Networking begins naturally when women get together.
That’s what Chris Adams, senior lead women’s ministry specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, said about Embrace Leadership Network, held April 25 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest
The one-day event, which was free and included lunch, drew 150 women from around North Carolina who want to build women’s ministries in their churches.
Adams said the turnout “says a lot about the desires of you as leaders.”
Phyllis Foy, Embrace’s interim director, was “thrilled about (the) diversity” of women who chose to come.
“Our heart is to meet the needs of these women,” Foy said.
Embrace is a new women’s ministry launched in November 2008 by the Baptist State Convention and response has been positive. Registration for the first two Embrace events (including a mother/daughter retreat at Fort Caswell) has met capacity.
Embrace Leadership Network is the first of three such events to encourage women to share ideas for ministry with and to women.
In addition to hearing Adams women leaders learned of resources available to them and discussed their own challenges and successes.
“A woman networks all day,” said Becky Garrett, who has been women’s ministry director at Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville for seven years.
Before the prayer she led for lunch Garrett shared what happened the Wednesday before: a morning at the jail with inmates; lunch at church with ladies; counseling session in the afternoon; time with college girls in the evening and home to be mom.
“Oh what a day,” Garrett said. “It was just an amazing day.”
Marveling that all these women she encountered “see the same Jesus,” Garrett encouraged the women in their ministries.
At her table, Garrett steered ladies through discussion questions. To the topic of ministry burnout she said she makes sure she takes time for her family as well as her Lord.
“I’m sorry but as a leader, that’s a requirement,” Garrett said. “Jesus found time to spend with God.”
Being open to change is also key, said Lucy Houser of Gainsville Baptist Church in Lincolnton.
“I think we’ve got to be open to new ideas,” Houser said.
The ladies also discussed how to stay current with the latest ministry resources; motivating women for service; publicizing events; honorariums; maintaining a balance; what events worked and why; recruiting new leaders; incorporating missions and ministry; and what would help them with their ministry.
Adams said the rules have changed for women’s ministry and life is moving at a faster pace. Women expect more in ministry.
“You are a limited resource,” Adams said. “You cannot do it all and be it all. Leadership is a draining experience. It’s just tiring.”
Defining women’s ministry has been a long-time problem. Adams said women’s ministry is, “whatever you’re doing for women in the church.”
“Our job is to listen to be aware of where He’s walking among the women,” she said. “Is it hard? You better believe it’s hard. Is it exciting? Absolutely it’s exciting.”
Two more networking events are planned in the fall:
- Oct. 3 — Cape Carteret Baptist Church; speaker: Shirley Moses, Texas Baptist Convention.
- Nov. 7 — Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, Hendersonville; speaker: Chris Adams, LifeWay.
What Must We Do?
LifeWay women’s ministry specialist Chris Adams’ advice to women at a recent Embrace networking event:
- Know your core purpose.
- “Make that clear to your leaders,” said Adams.
- Model godly leadership.
- Encourage women to stay in God’s word.
- Provide accountability.
- Set boundaries.
- Equip women.
- “We need to be training women all the time,” she said.
- Embrace all generations of women in church.
- Invest in younger generations “because that’s the future,” Adams said. “We must invest and embrace those younger women.”
- Drop stereotypes.
- Build relationships.
- Listen to women.
- What are they saying?
- Disciple for life change.
- Be open to options.
- What are we doing that we should not be doing anymore?