In January of 2009 I was asked by my church staff to lead our women’s ministry.
My mind’s immediate response was NO, but I knew God was up to something. I had just stopped by to see my pastor on my way home from being downsized at my job. My thought was to let him know that I was now available in case he needed me to help out with projects or visitation. But, as God would have it, he had more in mind that that. He shared that just that morning the staff had discussed the possibility of me assuming the Women’s Ministry Leader role.
I knew that this was no coincidence.
A few days later, I met with Steve, the Minister of Education and Administration – the pastor to whom this position would report. I had pretty much already made up my mind – I was not interested. You see, my paradigm for leading women’s ministry was of someone who only planned events for women at church. I believed I was called to minister to women, not coordinate events for women.
I have a process for understanding when God is calling me to something – He gives me a vision for it, and I had no vision for this.
I explained to Steve that without a vision for how God would want me to lead our women’s ministry, I simply could not do it. The church would not want what Gina Duke had because I had nothing, nada! At the end of our conversation, I committed to pray about it and let him know if I felt the Lord lead me differently in the future. No problem!
“He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.”
Ecclessiastes 8:5 NASB
One week later I was calling Steve to set up another meeting.
Since that initial meeting God had been speaking to me. I went to bed one night, and God began to flood my mind. He wasn’t introducing new ideas to me, but reminding me of various thoughts I had had previously for which I had had no reason or platform to implement them at the time. I got up and began typing as fast as God could give me His plan.
I sat down with Steve and laid out everything God had given me. I was so excited! There is nothing like being entrusted with a vision to carry out from the Lord. Steve liked the plan, and I had approximately eight weeks to kick it off. During that time, I finalized the lesson plans and other resources, rolled it out to the women of my church, hosted sign ups, and assigned women to their perspective teams, and we were off to a great start!
We went from having about five women trying to coordinate an annual women’s retreat to 50 women engaged in ministry!!! Women were up off the pew excitedly working on meaningful ministry projects! What God gave me and my church was a Women’s INVOLVEMENT Ministry called JOPPA.
As God began to pull together all of those random thoughts that had crossed my mind at one time or another, it made sense to give each of the ministry teams a biblical namesake. This thought led me to no other resource than my favorite reference author’s, Herbert Lockyer’s, All the Women of the Bible. I love his writing style, especially in this book from his well-known “All” series.
As I studied the women who would represent the teams, I noticed that Dr. Lockyer wrote about Dorcas’s hometown.
“The town of Joppa was the home of Dorcas, a New Testament Christian who ministered to the poor and needy” Dr. Hebert Lockyer further stated, “…for there flowed out of that little city of Joppa a multitude of benevolent and charitable organizations in which women have been prominent”
This description of Joppa, modern day Jaffa no less, sounded like a great name for this ministry! It is catchy, and self-promoting. New women in our church curiously ask, “What is Joppa?” And my ladies are happy to share the vision for our Women’s Involvement Ministry, and invite them to join. “Joppa Nite” is the one night of the month when all teams meet for Bible study of their team’s namesake and ministry project planning. With the multitude of women on the various ministry teams executing their ministry projects, I was confident that our “Joppa Nite” too, would become of great reputation just like Joppa had arose to in biblical times.
We run our Women’s Involvement Ministry from February to October, using January to ramp up. During our ramp up, I host an informational meeting and then allow a couple of weeks for sign ups. Here is my women’s ministry tablescape from this year’s launch.
Since Joppa was/is an actual city, I have used a tour and travel theme for the women’s ministry tablescape.
I found the perfect scrapbooking template online to use with my theme to make flyers for Joppa. I posted these in our ladies’ restrooms and on all bulletin boards. It is also important to place your kick-off information on your church’s website, announcement screen before service, in bulletins & newsletters, on church facebook pages & other social media outlets. Email and call prospects as well as previous participants. I have found that I must post my women’s ministry information a hundred different ways, and still some people will still not see it, which is sad and frustrating, to say the least.
It does take almost three years to take the Joppa tour. There are 3 rotations within a year, and 8 teams.
In keeping with the travel theme, I made the streamer out of a map, and using felt and iron on lettering for JOPPA. I think it turned out rather nicely. I also stole, I mean borrowed, my daughters antique window screen / vintage bulletin board to hold up my vintage streamers and showcase Joppa Newsletters from years past. And I pulled out a vintage chalk board that I had used for my daughters’ graduation tablescapes (purchased from Hobby Lobby) to write my message. One of my daughter’s friends lent me her creative writing skills. Thank you, Hailey! All of these special touches pull the theme of your women’s ministry tablescape together!
Another nice touch, was using the “packing” of my suitcase with Joppa T-Shirts. The T’s state our theme verse and mission statement nicely. This helps to build excitement around the ministry’s purpose.
As you kick-off your women’s ministry initiatives, I hope you will consider using a women’s ministry tablescape! It really draws them in and can say so much more than an announcement!
Here are some of my other posts about women’s ministry ideas:
Idea Starter: The God Box Gift
Idea Starter – DIY Your Women’s Ministry Center
Idea Starter – Complimentary Holiday Meals
Gina Duke is the Director of Women’s Ministry at her church where she has implemented a Women’s Involvement Ministry, called “Joppa”. This project is one of the ministry’s “Idea Starters”. Gina is an organizational leader imparting biblical and practical solutions for authentic Christian Living. She is the founder and president of Churchtown Ministries, and author of “Organizing Your Prayer Closet” (Abingdon Press). For more posts like these, go to GinaDuke.com or follow her board, “Joppa” on Pinterest – Gina Duke/Churchtown Ministries. You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter @TheGinaDuke
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