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Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily, here with Laura.
Laura: Hey guys!
Emily: Today we’re talking about getting involved in ministry in the local church. This is a topic near and dear to our hearts. We did a workshop on this at a conference in early 2019, and we felt like this would be applicable to all Risen Motherhood listeners. And I need to hear it too—over and over again. So we’re excited to dive into this a little bit today. It’s a slightly different format of show than we usually do.
Laura: Yes. If you’ve listened to our show for any amount of time, you know this is a major passion area for each of us. We’re hopeful we’re not your primary source of nourishment or encouragement. We love having you guys here; you’re seriously the best and it’s been so fun to meet some of you and hear your stories firsthand this year as we’ve done some conferences. But really, truly, we hope you put your best and first efforts into your local church and women’s ministry. We’re going to talk through the practical things: What are the hindrances a mom faces? How can she overcome those in the years with little kids?
Emily: I feel like it’s a decisive time. When you go from not having children to having a baby for the first time, or maybe you adopted and you’ve got a toddler or two—however that worked out. It kind of feels like all the balls in your life go back up in the air, and you don’t know how everything will fall. Maybe you’re experiencing new vulnerabilities you haven’t in the past and you feel the need for a different type of community—more support spiritually and emotionally. I think we’ve seen it can be an easy time to pull out of the church, and it can also be a great time—we think one of the best times—to really press in where you can. We wanted to start by talking through some things we’ve experienced in the little years and some of the myths we’re tempted to believe when things get hard.
Laura: I think when I became a first time mom, I remember the idea around me: “moms are victims who are constantly overwhelmed, because there’s so much around them that they don’t have any time for themselves; they’re just surviving.” I felt that. It wasn’t just that I heard those things reinforced, I also did feel them. I think it’s a very real feeling. If you’re feeling that way right now—that you’re not able to manage a lot and you’re just surviving—I don’t think you’re weird. [Laughter]
Emily: You’re not alone! [Laughter]
Laura: But mom culture at-large really reinforces that message: “Moms are hot messes!” You know?
Emily: Yeah, and I think that translates into the church. Laura and I have both been in settings where someone has made a comment at a Bible study about us being moms with little ones who are too busy to do our study, be on time, be consistent—because we need to care for our kids. It can feed into the feeling that we can’t do it or be there. It can be a difficult thing to process through.
Laura: It’s hard, because we really appreciate that grace people give us when they say it’s okay if we can’t get our Bible study done to still show up. That is so needed, and we’re so grateful for that. At the same time, I remember being told, “Honey, you don’t have to do your Bible study. You’re a mom; you have better things to do.” That was a message that settled in my heart in the wrong way. I knew right away being in the word was the most important thing, but those comments feed what we’re talking about. We want to get to that truth right now about how motherhood and being involved in ministry in the little years really is achievable. It may look different in this season of life than it has in the past and will in the future. I think motherhood is busy, but you’re busy with really different things. For me, it was a season where suddenly I went from working full-time to being at home full-time. There were nap schedules and feeding schedules, so it was really busy, but I also had a weird amount of free time as well. I became a stay-at-home mom, which I know isn’t the same for everyone, but I think there are a lot of you listening who may be in that boat.
Emily: I think another reason why it’s such a great time is because it can really establish habits. We know in Bible study—we talked about this in Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word—you make little deposits over a long period of time; it adds up to a lot. So if we want to fill our hearts with the truth of the word so we can apply it in our lives, we need to continue planting those seeds and starting those habits when our kids are young. I think it makes it easier to keep doing it. Something I’ve believed is that along the way, it’ll get easier and I’ll jump back in later. I can tell you my oldest will be seven this summer, and there still hasn’t been an easy season. Every season brings different pressures on your schedule and challenges. It is a great time where you can. I think it builds really good patterns.
Laura: So we’re going to go through a handful of things to try to help you get involved in women’s ministry. We know this feels a bit different than our typical shows, but we do see this as equipping you with the gospel, because you’re going to get that from your local church. Part of our mission at R|M is to help you be equipped to apply the gospel to your everyday lives.
Emily: Let’s do some practical touchpoints here. First, consider the various opportunities available at your church. Some women’s ministries offer more program choices, some offer a lot less. But there’s probably a variety whether that’s an on-going Bible study, some type of devotional book group, or moms of little ones or toddlers get together to encourage one another. Sometimes there’s formal discipleship connections you can make with an older woman. There are lots of things; some are high-time commitments, some are low. Some might even be a one-time event where you can meet people to connect with in the future. I think it’s good to see that even if you can’t sign up for the 10-week Bible study today, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do or no way to get involved.
Laura: I had a friend who did the Bible study but didn’t attend the Bible study meetings. In that season, she had a nursing babe, and while it wasn’t ideal, she felt like she could have conversations at church and over Voxer. So she planned to get fully involved in the next season. Be creative, and don’t feel limited by those things.
Okay, so this one is the hard one to hear, but we’re going to say it: be prepared to get some skin in the game. It’s going to feel costly. It’s going to feel like a big event: you prepped your kids 1.5 hours before the Bible study started, you were there for one hour, there’s the transition time once you’re home again. I think expecting what you’re going to get out of this is so worthwhile, valuable, and important helps when you don’t see immediate fruit. That cost will come with benefits. It’s worth it.
Emily: Another thing is to remember to ask for help. Sometimes we want people to read our minds or see our needs and respond without us ever having to say anything, but occasionally, we need to speak up and ask for help—childcare so you can go to an event, reimbursement program, suggestions. Also, ask your women’s ministry leader for suggestions on books, Bible study, resources. I’ve talked to so many women’s ministry leaders who want to help but don’t know who needs it until someone asks. Another thing is when somebody reaches out, say, “Thank you. That really helped me.” I know when I was bringing my littles to Bible study many years ago—when I had three kids, three and under—there were ladies who’d hold doors open for me and help me get the kids in from the snow. I remember telling them, “This met a really tangible need for me and was really helpful.” And they continued to do it. Honestly, it made getting in the door that much less treacherous and scary. So I think planning ahead and being willing to advocate for yourself...in a nice, kind way. [Laughter]
Laura: Gently. [Laughter] I feel like I’m getting all the hard ones here, but the next one is: make sure you’re prepared when you come. You put so much effort to get there, so it’s good to come and be ready to participate in the discussion because you’re read the book or done whatever homework was assigned to you. And of course, there’s grace for not getting it done. Any women’s ministry leader would say to still come, which is great. But since you put so much energy to get there, you’re going to get that much more out if you prepare and spend time reading. Of course, know that there are a lot of weeks I’ve shown up to some event or Bible study after only getting through two pages. [Laughter] And that’s okay! That’s real life! Things do happen, but at the same time, we want to encourage you to put in that effort. Mom culture at-large often says it’s okay not to worry about it or do it. But we want to say to push a little harder and dig a little deeper, because those are deposits you make in your spiritual life that flow out into other parts of your life. It’ll be so beneficial to you.
Emily: And it serves others. We often feel like what we contributed to the conversation isn’t very smart or no one really wants to hear what we have to say, but—
Laura: They do!
Emily: Yeah, that’s the reason for being in that environment: we learn from one another whenever we discuss what we’ve read in the Bible and the way we’re interpreting it and applying it to life. It actually detracts from the group when we don’t show up prepared and ready to contribute. That’s something I have to remind myself, because I can think it’s okay if I’m not prepared because no one wanted to hear what I had to say. Another one is to stay connected and look for the information! [Laughter]
Laura: This seems so obvious, but I went through a whole season of not being signed up for email alerts. I had no idea what was happening. People would ask if I was going to something, and I hadn’t heard of any of it. I needed to simply get on the email list to hear about it.
Emily: Yes! Follow on social media, check the website. One thing our church does is releases a schedule at the beginning of the year. I’m on the women’s ministry team, and I still need to sit down and input all those dates on my calendar right off the bat. Sometimes I forget something’s happening, but it reminds me that I need to get prepared. Do whatever you need to do to be aware of what’s going on.
Laura: Another one is see how you can serve and get involved. I know from serving in leadership and regular roles, women’s ministries are hungry and open and excited about women getting involved at a service or leadership level. If you’re interested in something like that, don’t be afraid to raise your hand or share what you’re interested in. Maybe you love making meals, serving in the nursery, facilitating a small group discussion, or hosting a book club in your home. There are so many different things you could do. Emily and I have served at both levels in women’s ministry, and when a woman says, “I want to start this or I want to do that”—
Emily: Great, I’ll find a job for you! I’m so excited!
Laura: 100%. We love our ideas, but we love it even more when someone says they can do it. If you see ways you can serve, please speak up and talk to your women’s ministry leader to see how it can happen. You may be really surprised by the opportunities that present themselves. Go! Go do that!
Emily: Another thing we wanted to mention is that some of you may be thinking, “I’ve tried that. I’ve tried to get involved in my local church. I’ve tried to raise my hand and serve.” And you feel like you’ve been burnt. We want to acknowledge the Church—both globally and locally—is full of sinners, full of people who don’t have it together on this side of heaven. We’re redeemed and saved, being transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ, but that’s happening progressively for everyone. We know you’ve been in situations where you haven’t been heard or seen: maybe you’re unable to serve in the way you want. But we want to encourage you to bear with the saints in your local church. If you’re in a church where they’re not preaching the gospel or it isn’t a healthy place, maybe you need to talk with your husband or whoever about what to do with that. But if you’re in a church that loves Jesus and is preaching the gospel, we have to extend forgiveness and persevere by God’s strength. This is a group of people who is your family, if you’re in the local church. And we all know, family can be hard to get along with sometimes. [Laughter]
Laura: Oh Emily, you are so hard to get along with. [Laughter]
Emily: But they’re still family, and you should still work to get along with those sisters and brothers. We want to encourage you in that.
Laura: Good word. The last one is to receive grace. We’ve sprinkled this in here, but just know, there’s grace for this season. If you’re hearing this and feeling like you can’t get there, know there’s grace for all seasons. Emily and I like to joke that a mom’s season changes every three months. [Laughter] Maybe quicker.
Emily: As soon as you get that schedule figured out.
Laura: It’s for sure changing! Just know, especially if you’re on the front end of motherhood, hang in there. Things will change, and it will look brighter tomorrow. There are seasons of high and low involvement, but don’t give up. Remind yourself of the gospel day-in and day-out; of the grace God gives us. We’re not earning our salvation. Attendance in Bible study isn’t what gets you to heaven—praise the Lord. But those are things God does use in your life to grow you and draw you closer to him. So it’s still really important to be faithful, to be involved, and to make those efforts. But I’m so thankful that external involvement doesn’t necessarily reveal the faithfulness of your heart. Be encouraged with that too.
Emily: Our final word is to remember Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. We hear that in God’s word. This means he loves the Church; he loved her so much he died for her. He’s coming back for the Church. There are some verses in the New Testament that are so intense like, “The gates of hell will not prevail against his church.” He’s going to rescue, love, and live with his bride—the Church—forever. Some of that may seem kind of heady, but what we’re trying to communicate is Jesus loves the Church. God puts a huge emphasis on this. If we’re following Jesus and walking the way he walked, we should experience that love too. We should show it in our actions and involvement and desire to meet together with people—even though it’s not perfect.
Laura: Amen, Emily. We hope you’re feeling encouraged to be involved in the local church; maybe you already are and that’s awesome. Just share this with another mom! If you want more, we’ll link lots of resources in our show notes this week at risenmotherhood.com. Of course, we’d love it if you’d join us on social media @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’d appreciate if you stayed connected, because that’s how you find out about new shows, what’s going on at R|M, the book updates, and all sorts of things like that. Come join us! It’s a good time over there. We hope you have a great day!