By Kim Miller
Finding yourself in a new hometown, on a new military installation is an experience we military women repeat many times. And finding your place in that new community is key to feeling settled. But what to do when finding that place in a new women’s ministry group doesn’t come easy? Here are some tips and resources to help you!
You’ve come from a thriving women’s ministry and you feel like your new group is lacking somehow….
- Figure out what is missing. Is it the people you miss or a particular prayer, devotion, or activity? Once you know what you are missing, you can make a plan to move forward.
- If it’s your friends you are missing, find out if your new ministry group has social events, girls night out events, or fellowship time during their normal meetings. Use this time to start making connections with new friends.
- If it is a particular devotion or activity you are missing, consider offering to lead that activity in your new group. Approach the leaders gently – your words should convey your genuine interest in helping and not your dissatisfaction with this group as it is.
- Be prepared to graciously accept a “no.” For any number of reasons, your offer may be denied. If this happens, be gracious and continue to give the group a chance. You may come to love this group in whole new ways by being patient with it.
You find out your new community has no women’s ministry!
- Talk to others in the chapel community and find out why there isn’t a ministry currently. You might find that the time is right to start one!
- Start with your chaplain! Find a few others who might be interested in helping start a group and set a time to visit with your chaplain. Share your ideas with him and ask for his ideas.
- Remember, a chaplain’s primary job in his chapel is to ensure that service members and their families have access to the sacraments. Consider how your new group can support tha. Does he need lectors? EMHCs? Could your group commit to attending First Friday mass or adoration to ensure that these programs have the attendance they need to continue? How will your group benefit the chapel community while helping your women grow in their faith?
- Be willing to start small. Growing a large, dynamic group takes time. Consider what your community needs and can support right now. Maybe it’s a monthly gathering with prayer and fellowship, maybe it’s a small book club, maybe it is three or four special gatherings a year. Be comfortable with planting the seeds and letting them grow as they should in your community.
You helped start (or grow!) an amazing group in your old community and now it’s time to leave.
- Recognize and accept that this will be a hard goodbye! It’s okay (and totally normal!) to feel sad and uncertain about leaving something you helped build.
- Prepare the next team for success. Leaving behind great after action reports, orderly files, and clear instructions for recurring programs will help those who come after you continue to build on your success. Check out the Think Local Sourcebook on www.MCCW.org for tips on creating great after action resources.
- Assure the new team that you will be available to them after you leave, if they want it! You can answer questions, offer suggestions, and share ideas with them when they ask, in order to help them continue the momentum the group had.
- Plan your exit. Figure out when your family will be leaving and plan ahead for the last time you will participate in an event with your women’s ministry. If there are formal goodbyes to be made, plan to do those then, but also save your personal goodbyes for then. Nothing is more emotionally draining than saying goodbyes over and over and over again.
Looking for more tips and resources to help you start, grow, or lead your women’s ministry? Check out the Think Local Sourcebook at www.mccw.org for a complete guide!