The Transformation of Women’s Ministry in 21st Century Culture

• Younger generations of women reject traditional programming in favor of more purposeful spiritual interaction.
• Innovative church leaders are experimenting with new ways to EQUIP women to exercise their gifts & passions through relationships, spiritual development & outreach
• Leaders are finding that teas, lunches, fashion-shows and socially focused retreats no longer fits the needs and desires of their congregations.
• Previous ministry activities and programs are tedious, time-consuming & irrelevant to new generations seeking to discover their gifts and passions through meaningful expression.
• There is a shift happening in the evangelical community, and an earthquake happening in the culture itself.
• God is at the center of these changes as a force of deconstruction and reconstruction.
• The future to which we are heading has not yet been created and you can be sure that it will look completely different than it looks right now.
• Its time to start experimenting with new ways to equip women to exercise their gifts and passions rather than simply recycling programs to entertain our people.
• Try to encourage ORGANIC development: women creating their own expressions of spiritual growth and outreach rather than being handed a menu of predetermined activities.
• Younger women are speaking loudly with their declining participation in traditional women’s ministry events, citing such reasons as busy schedules and hectic lifestyles.
• Theses younger women are however increasingly involved in community service events outside the church walls.
• Consider these new innovations:
o Connecting individuals in small groups on social networking websites.
o Holding bible studies at popular bookstores and coffee shops.
o Write relevant curriculum for bible study. Study the sermon series being preached. Make it available FREELY online.
o Train others to lead a study in their preferred way i.e. online, in bookstore, via facebook, via blog, via column.
o Taking important conversations to the streets “DIVA BUS”
o Cross-continental partnerships
o Design a retreat focused on practicing the spiritual disciplines and growing in spiritual maturity. (Spending personal time with God to hear his voice)

How to empower women in the church!

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Recently I have read about a phenomenon called stereotype threat. This term refers to the pressure individuals feel in the classroom or workplace due to perceived stereotypes about themselves. For instance, women are sometimes stereotyped as being less capable at math, which can influence the way young girls perform in their math classes. If they believe they are worse at math, they are likely to perform worse regardless of natural ability.

Numerous studies have shown that the simple presence of a stereotype can inhibit academic performance, but it creates an additional obstacle. If a student or employee anticipates being stereotyped, some will actively try to undermine the stereotype. For example, a businesswoman may fear being perceived as overly emotional by her male colleagues, so she intentionally minimizes her emotions and conducts herself stoically. Unfortunately, the cognitive energy she puts into combating the stereotype also inhibits her performance. Likewise, students who find themselves resisting a stereotype in a classroom setting are less able to learn and engage the subject matter.

It is remarkable and troubling that a stereotype can be so powerful. Fortunately, researchers have also looked into the best methods for breaking the power of stereotype threat, and they have discovered two primary options:

1. An authority figure publicly debunks the stereotype. In a study at Stanford University, a group of men and women were administered a math test and their performances were recorded (Spencer and Steele, 1999). Then, the same math test was administered to a different group of men and women, but with one small change. This time, before the students began, the test administrator told the group that there was no previous gender discrepancy in performance on this test.  This simple statement debunking the stereotype about women and math made all the difference. The women in the second group tested better.

2. In-group role models. It is also helpful for victims of stereotype threat to see individuals from their own group (ie. women or minorities) functioning competently outside the stereotype (McIntyre, Paulson, Taylor, Morin and Lord, 2011). Having a talented female math teacher, for instance, can help dispel the myth that women are not good at math.

This research is fascinating, and it has led me to wonder about its application to women in the church. There are many stereotypes out there about women that are both sociological and psychological, so the cycle can be tough to break. If women believe they are not capable of thinking theologically, or leading and teaching in the church effectively, then that stereotype perpetuates an unfortunate cycle in which women are hesitant to even try.

That said, there are two applications that evangelicals can take from the above research. The first applies to men. In the same way that authority figures have the power to break stereotypes with a simple word, men in the evangelical church have that power as well. That is not to say that women should not also speak out against unbiblical stereotypes, but research seems to indicate that the power group–the group that is stereotyped as being naturally gifted or authoritative in a certain area–has particular influence in this regard. If men were to tell their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters that women can think theologically, that women should be important voices in the church, and that the church needs the contributions of these women, that message would have a tremendous, positive impact.

In short, men, we need you! Challenge your wives and raise strong daughters!

The second application from the above research concerns us ladies. If we want to see younger generations of women pushing themselves and using their gifts for the Kingdom of God, then we need to be doing that ourselves. Change can be slow and discouraging at times, but the more women who are out there studying, growing and leading, the more we can expect younger women to follow our example. Change begins with us.

Ladies, How To Get Your Husbands To Do Anything You Want (via Brian Dodd On Leadership)

Ladies, How To Get Your Husbands To Do Anything You Want "Forget it!  I'll just do it myself!"  As a husband, I hear those seven words more than I would like to admit.  But the good news is that I'm not alone.  From what I hear, those words are repeated by wives all over the world.  The passivity of men is a global, systemic epidimec. So what's a hard-working women to do?  I have an a suggestion for improving spousal performance that doesn't require you doing what you think you have to do. Fast Company … Read More

via Brian Dodd On Leadership

Submission – A spiritual Discipline?

Wives and Husbands
1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you [1] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

1. Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says. You can see that in verse one: she is a Christian and he is not. He has one set of ideas about ultimate reality. She has another. Peter calls her to be submissive while assuming she will not submit to his view of the most important thing in the world—God. So submission can’t mean submitting to agree with all her husband thinks.

2. Submission does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar. It is not the inability or the unwillingness to think for yourself. Here is a woman who heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. She thought about it. She assessed the truth claims of Jesus. She apprehended in her heart the beauty and worth Christ and his work, and she chose him. Her husband heard it also. Other wise Peter probably wouldn’t say he “disobeyed the word.” He has heard the word and he has thought about it. And he has not chosen Christ. She thought for herself and she acted. And Peter does not tell her to retreat from that commitment.

3. Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband. The whole point of this text is to tell a wife how to “win” her husband. Verse one says, “Be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won.” If you didn’t care about the Biblical context you might say, “Submission has to mean, taking a husband the way he is and not trying to change him.” But if you care about the context, you conclude that submission, paradoxically, is a strategy for changing him.

The goal of this text is to help wives bring about the most profound change in their husbands that can be imagined—the transformation from being a spiritually dead unbeliever to a spiritually alive believer. Submission does not say, “I renounce all efforts to change my husband.” What it does say we’ll see in a moment.

4. Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. The text clearly teaches that the wife is a follower of Jesus before and above being a follower of her husband. He is going on the path of unbelief. She does not follow him in that, because she has been called to be a disciple of Jesus. Submission to Jesus relativizes submission to husbands—and governments and employers and parents. When Sara calls Abraham “lord” in verse 6, it is lord with a little “l”. It’s like “sir.” And the obedience she renders is secondary obedience, under, and because of, and filtered through obedience to the LORD with a capital “L”.

5. Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength from her husband. A good husband should indeed strengthen and build up and sustain his wife. He should be a source of strength. There are ways in which a wife is the “weaker vessel” as verse 7 says. But what this text shows is that when a husbands spiritual nurturing and leadership is lacking, a Christian wife is not bereft of strength. Submission does not mean she is dependent on him to supply her strength of faith and virtue and character. The text assumes just the opposite. She is summoned to develop depth and strength and character not from her husband but for her husband. Verse five says that her hope is in God, not the husband.

6. Finally submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear. Verse 6b says, “You have become [Sarah’s] children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” In other words submission is free, not coerced by fear. The Christian woman is a free woman. When she submits to her husband—whether he is a believer or unbeliever—she does it in freedom, not out of fear.

What then is submission?

It is the disposition to follow a husband’s authority and an inclination to yield to his leadership. It is an attitude that says, “I delight for you to take the initiative in our family. I am glad when you take responsibility for things and lead with love. I don’t flourish when you are passive and I have to make sure the family works.” But the attitude of Christian submission also says, “It grieves me when you venture into sinful acts and want to take me with you. You know I can’t do that. I have no desire to resist you. On the contrary, I flourish most when I can respond creatively and joyfully to your lead; but I can’t follow you into sin, as much as I love to honor your leadership in our marriage. Christ is my King.”

The Handmade Revolution

As the world continues to embrace technology with vigour, and we are in danger of losing our individuality to mass production, it is little wonder that so many of us are thinking of ways in which to turn the tide by recycling, repurposing, buying handmade goods and making crafts rather than simply making money.
It’s almost as if we are on a quest, a search for what is real. We are trying to reconnect with ourselves and with others.
It is somewhat ironic that it is technology, specifically the internet, that is helping to drive the craft revolution.
Thanks to the internet, everyone with a personal computer can learn a multitude of crafting skills.
Handmade and the touch of the hand are about nurture, nourishment, application, patience and care.
In the light of the global recession with all its negative spin-offs, handcraft gives us a sense of security and control in uncertain times.
The so-called “handmade movement” is about saving the world, and giving to others & to yourself by doing something for no reason other than it makes you happy.
it is under-pinned by an awareness of the need to nurture the environment through recycling and reusing, and by taking cognisance of the exploitation that is inherent in mass production.
However there is no getting away from the “gorgeous” factor, the delight to be found in modern nostalgia and how deeply satisfying it is to get to grips with an old-fashioned craft.
Handmade is the mother tongue giving rise to a new African design language.
There is no longer any connection between producer and consumer and the handmade movement is to build a new economy and present a better choice: buy, sell and live handmade.
The ascendancy of chain-store culture and global manufacturing has left people all dressing, furnishing and decorating alike.
The handmade movement featured strongly in trend forecasts worldwide for 2011, while on the local front craft is not only cool, it represents an enormous source of income.
According to the department of trade and industry, some R2 billion of SA’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) comes from the craft sub-sector.
They estimate that crafts could contribute R5 billion to the country’s GDP and support some 20 000 new jobs by 2015 if the sector receives sufficient support.
The latest trend overseas is handmade shopping and swapping parties – get-togethers where you can sell handmade products or swap your creative handiwork with that of your friends.

People prefer handmade because they want something unique. Handmade speaks to people. Having something in your home that is unique enhances your individuality.
Making something with your own hands is soul satisfying and creativity takes us away from every day life.
Handmade is not just about craft, but craftivity – a movement where creativity is used to change the world.
One of our missions is not only to create jobs, but also to celebrate the individual who made the product. This is the opposite of nameless, faceless mass production.
Swing tags bearing the makers name on it are par for the course. Handmade captures a tiny bit of the person who made it. Many craft artists work from hand to mouth.
Their talent is a way of bringing food to the family table as well as a way to express their creative talent. To make something is about the soul and is a way of explaining yourself to the world
Handcrafts are therapeutic and meditative and buying a unique article is a way of setting yourself apart instead of drowning in a sea of sameness. Our local crafts are a link to our culture, diversity and history rather than to an impersonal world. The recession has contributed to a shift in consciousness towards a more valued, honest life and people are realizing afresh there is more to life than making money.

So join the handmade revolution and help us bring creativity and craft back to it’s rightful place in this world. Help us regain our uniqueness as individuals and return to the delight by buying handmade articles from your local craft stores and markets. Let’s work together to create jobs and increase our country’s GDP through the art of crafts.

Is your soul downcast!

Many of us are more intentional about monitoring the well being of our cars than monitoring the well-being of our souls.
What are the warning indicators that your soul is not doing well? I’ll tell you mine: you can use them or modify them to run a little test, assessing your soul 1-5 on these scales:
–Lack of motivation. When nothing seems to be worth doing, when I find myself ‘not caring’ about people, or suffering, or my work, I know my soul needs attention.
–Irritability. When other people increasing feel like a bother rather than a brother, its time for some maintenence work.
–High vulnerability to discouragement. When the soul is strong, it finds obstacles and challenges to be part of the task assigned it, to make it stronger.
–High vulnerability to temptation. When my soul lacks satisfaction from the right sources, it will look for satisfaction from the wrong ones. No ones’ soul can go for long without satisfaction.
–Loss of gratitude. The soul stretched thin loses its receptors for beauty and joy.
There is help for the hurting soul, and God knows best what yours needs: solitude or fellowship; encouragement or conviction; new challenge or rest.
But healing always starts with awareness.
Check the dashboard.(by John Ortberg)

SUKUMA PROJECT – Empowering young girls & women to discover their full potential

SUKUMA=ARISE
Sukuma Project was started in order to uplift and empower girls & women in townships to become self employed and entrepreneurial. The ultimate goal is to free them from the constraints of poverty and unemployment.
SUKUMA will provide non-formal education, giving girls & women opportunities to develop self-esteem, confidence & life skills. Our dream is to build a better world for them through advocacy & action.
EMPOWERMENT
* EMPOWERMENT entails a process whereby girls & women will gain more control over their lives, become active members of their communities and are enabled to make informed choices about issues that directly affect them.
* EMPOWERMENT entails addressing the barriers that prevent them from developing their full potential. Discrimination against women can be based on class, race, ethnicity & age. Barriers include unequal power relations, limited opportunities for education, inadequate access to health care and services, cultural biases and poor economic conditions.
* EMPOWERMENT will involve focusing on gender equality and meeting the needs of the poorest of people.
* EMPOWERMENT will seek to uplift and improve general living conditions of women in townships.

SUKUMA PROJECT will focus primarily on providing employment opportunities through the production process of various marketable products. Woman will be taught basic sewing in order to be employable or self employed to participate in projects such as the following:
* WORLD CUP SOCCER FAN SCARVES
* Executive Scarves for Corporates in SA
* Fashion scarves for retail
* Community Candle Production
* Gift Candles for retail
* Scented Candles for retail
* Community Soap Production
* Gift Soaps for retail

God’s Girls is a church project working in the community near Compass Point church which seeks to empower & equip young girls to discover their full potential by:
* Providing a safe environment in which girls can cultivate their own set of values and grow in confidence
* Support girls and create space to foster positive, close relationships with mentors & peers
* Teach soft skills to increase employment chances
* Teach skills such as sewing, candle making, soap making, greeting card making, event planning & baking
* Assist the girls to find bursaries & scholarships for teritiary studies
* Encourage the girls to get involved in IT, science, maths, sports, & technology.
* Develop the leadership gifts within the girls in the group & provide ongoing leadership training
* Work hard to encourage them to stay in school and plan for tertiary studying

Finally we will strive to enable young girls & women to discover their potential through non-formal educations based on 4 pillars of lifelong learning:
LEARN TO KNOW – Broad general knowledge
LEARN TO DO – Acquire some occupational skills alongside life skills including inter personal and team relationships
LEARN TO LIVE TOGETHER – Develop an understanding of other people & appreciation of interdependence, skills in team work and conflict resolution, cultivating a deep respect for one another.
LEARN TO BE – Develop character, judgement & personal responsibility.

SUKUMA PROJECT – Women empowerment, upliftment & development!