I’m one of those women who loves fall. Bring on the cooler weather, sweatshirts, and all things pumpkin spice. I also love school supplies, college football, and getting back to a more regular schedule.
Except this isn’t going to be a normal fall, is it? With the continuing concerns of COVID-19, everything we love about fall just doesn’t quite feel the same. Planning for success continues to look different than it has in the past. Success will not necessarily be measured in numbers but rather in the intentionality and flexibility in which you plan.
Success is an interesting word that is often used out of context when quoting Scripture. To some, success might mean financial prosperity or an easier way of life. One of the most quoted verses on success is found in Joshua 1:7, “Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go” (CSB, emphasis added).
Yet when we hear the word success with our Western ears, we don’t always get the full impact of what the verse means in the original Hebrew language. In Hebrew, the word success in this verse is sakal, which means to be prudent, to have insight, or to have wise understanding.1 It speaks of succeeding in life’s proper endeavors that happen when our lives are focused on God in obedience to Him. It takes away the idol of prideful personal accomplishments and accolades and replaces them with glorifying God and pointing the success back to Him.
So, as a leader, how can you practically navigate this fall and seek success God’s way and not your own? How can you readjust your expectations and still move women forward in their spiritual journeys to know God and love others? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Small groups and Bible Studies
Has there ever been a time when the word “small” has had more impact when it comes to gathering women around God’s Word? With social distancing guidelines and restrictions on the numbers of women who can gather together, evaluate how you are offering small group Bible studies. Now that women have adapted to more online options, consider offering an online small group. Develop small groups in homes where women can safely gather and provide options for various kinds of studies.
One of the advantages of developing more small groups in your ministry to women is that you are developing more leaders. As you increase the number of studies you offer, this allows for more women to take the lead, so consider how you plan to train them. Will you gather them together online and set expectations for groups? Will you give them tips on how to ask good questions? Will you have a mechanism for checking in with them and seeing how they are doing? Multiplying groups results in multiplying leaders!
If you’re looking for study options, visit Lifeway.com and look under the “Ministry Resources” tab at the top. You can look at all the study options by flipping through the Lifeway Women’s digital catalog, downloading sample chapters of studies, and previewing videos. You can purchase leader kits for many studies that offer videos you can show to groups, or you can encourage women to download video sessions either by purchasing or renting individual lessons. Audio options are also available. And, of course, there are studies that are “print-only,” which means there are no videos that accompany the study.
Also, consider joining us for an online Bible study (see what we’re studying here). Encourage women to purchase the Bible study book, do the homework on their own, and watch the video online before you meet. Set a time to gather and discuss what you learned and how you plan to apply God’s word to your life. With this option, you have more time for discussion and more time to share prayer concerns and build community with the women in your church.
Just looking at pictures of large gatherings makes me long for the day when we can meet back together again. There is definitely something powerful that happens when hundreds, or even thousands, of women lift their voices in praise or flip the pages of their Bibles in a chorus of rustling paper. But we’re not there yet. So how can you be successful in attending or hosting an event during this time? Digital events to the rescue!
Even if you’re feeling a bit “Zoom-fatigued” by meeting online, there is still energy in knowing you can gather with thousands of Christian women by learning from seasoned authors and Bible teachers online. It wasn’t that long ago that simulcasts and virtual events seemed like just a possible option, but now they are normal and anticipated. I’ve found myself delighting in worshiping online and hearing from amazing teachers in the comfort of my home where I can easily put away dishes or fold the laundry. If you’re looking for ways to join a digital event, Lifeway is offering several opportunities for the fall. You can choose to watch alone, or if possible, gather a small group in your home or church and watch together. Some of the digital events this fall include: Living Proof Live Simulcast with Beth Moore, Cultivate Online with Kelly Minter, and Lifeway Women’s Leadership Forum.
While I know this fall will seem much different than what we’ve experienced in the past, let’s keep this perspective of success that the late basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”2 and “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”3
Kelly D. King is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for Lifeway Christian Resources. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide for Leading Women in the Local Church. You can hear Kelly at Lifeway’s You Lead events that are held in several cities around the country or listen to her co-host the Marked Podcast with Elizabeth Hyndman.
1. Strong’s H7919, Blue Letter Bible, accessed August 10, 2020, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=CSB&strongs=h7919.
2. John Wooden with Jack Tobin, They Call Me Coach (New York: McGraw Hill, 2004), 85.
3. Ibid, 56.