Leaders

Focus on WMU: It’s about Missions

Focus on WMU is not about WMU. It’s about missions. It’s about the work of God through the church by which the gospel of Jesus Christ is extended in word and deed to all the people in the world.

WMU is just a vehicle through which Christian believers can “understand and be radically involved” in the work of God. It encourages participation in the work of the church and denomination. It aids in developing spiritually toward a missions lifestyle, which includes learning about missions, praying for missions, giving to missions, serving in missions, and supporting missions.

Focus on WMU "by All Means"

I remember so vividly my years as a GA. I enjoyed learning about missions, praying for missions, giving to missions, and doing missions. It was in Girls in Action that I learned about the Cooperative Program and how the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering support missionaries. GA was my window to the world.

As an adult, I knew the impact WMU missions organizations had had on my life and I so desired that my daughters would also have that biblical worldview. I became a GA leader before my daughters were in the first through sixth grade. It was such a joy seeing the gospel come to life for them as we learned about missions in GA.

Throughout GA and all the other WMU missions organizations, you will find the following 6 objectives in the curriculum and other resources:

Develop: Changing the Way WMU Leaders Are Trained

As technology has changed, it has changed the way educational classes can be delivered. While many still enjoy the traditional classroom setting with a teacher and the camaraderie of other students, some need options that allow them to learn on their own schedule. I am one of those learners.

I have taken courses through Develop, WMU’s online and on-demand leadership training. While leadership conferences are still offered by national WMU, state WMUs, and associations, Develop’s courses extend the availability for leadership training to anyone with a computer at any time of the day or night. I have worked on courses at all hours, both on my computer and on my smartphone.

I appreciate that all Develop courses are reasonably priced and provide opportunity for interactive learning. Courses are self-paced and designed to be completed in about 4 hours. Each Develop course is a stand-alone module with a month to complete the work. The deadline provided me with motivation to get finished in a reasonable amount of time yet without too much time pressure.

More than Resolutions

I've never been very good at making—much less keeping—New Year's resolutions. Oh, I'll give it a passing thought as I hear others talk about their resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with their kids, etc. However, I've learned over the years that many, if not most, of those people who made those resolutions never kept them for more than a few weeks. Don't believe me? Visit a local gym on January 2 and then again on February 16. See if you notice the difference!

What it comes down to for me is not so much about making yearly resolutions I won't keep as it is about digging in and doing the hard work to accomplish what needs to be accomplished—in other words, setting goals and accomplishing them.

Consider All Options

We recently purchased a new car, and I was amazed at all the options we were offered. What color? What seat package? We had choices about the radio, tires, warranty, paint finish, floor mats, and a GPS system. The options were seemingly endless. Oh, and yes, there were about 15 ways to finance our purchase!

We live in a time when options are available in almost every area. Even hamburgers can be custom-made! With all the options people are offered in their lives, we often make a fatal mistake when we approach leadership responsibilities: we do not offer options. We plan our meetings with no choices. We insist that activities must be conducted the way they have been in the past. After all, they were good enough for us in 1970, so why not now?

The people you and I know are so accustomed to making choices that they are not terribly open to joining a group or participating in a project where their input isn’t asked for—or wanted. Their opinions matter, and they want to be part of the decision-making process. A preordained format or action planned by 1 or 2 leaders isn’t terribly attractive to them.

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Do Whatever It Takes

Leaders, regardless of their positions, need to carefully consider the promises they make. The key question is “Can I keep that promise?” Many factors impact whether leaders can make changes, and it’s not uncommon for those influences to be completely out of their control.

Leading successfully is a challenge not unlike climbing a snowcapped mountain. The higher you go, the thinner the air! Leaders make sincere promises but cannot keep them and feel as if they are climbing higher and higher without a support system. What, then, can leaders do to ensure the success of their work?

Here are several suggestions that can help you as you try to fulfill the promises you’ve made:

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Follow Their Example: Christian Workers Share Jesus with Muslims in Russia

I was spending the day with my grandmother not too long ago when she caught me with my nose in a book. She asked if I was reading for work or for pleasure. This particular book didn’t really qualify for either so I told her that I was reading it for my personal edification. She didn’t seem surprised. She knew that just like her, I love to read and learn new things. That’s why I so enjoy editing Missions Traveler, the International Mission Study magazine for adults and students, each year.

The mission study presents an opportunity to delve deep and learn the facts about and culture of a country, city, or people group. It also provides inspiration to pray for the featured Christian workers and their people group, give to support their work, and follow their example in reaching the lost wherever you are.

Tips for Keeping Older Kids Engaged in Missions Education

As you have probably noticed, kids have short attention spans. Often, a large dose of creativity is required to keep their attention for even a few minutes at a time.

A practical way to keep older kids engaged in missions education is by varying presentation methods. This takes time and preparation. As the missions leader, you must plan ahead to provide an assortment of informational items.

You can use the Internet to show videos about the focus country or people group. This is a great way to find a wealth of information, but be sure to preview any search results beforehand to avoid inappropriate material. Some older kids may be interested in becoming pen pals with a group of children or MKs in another country. As the leader, you can use social media to facilitate these interactions!

Don’t be afraid of trying foods from the area you are focusing on. Recipes are readily available and sometimes include suggestions for substitutions if something unusual is not accessible at your local grocery store. Kids will be delighted to try different dishes, especially if you eat it first!

Growing as a Leader: Look Outside and Inside

As a teenager in a small Baptist church, I was often given opportunities to grow as a leader. I may not have had the deepest understanding of preschool development, but the church was desperate for someone to “teach the Beginners” in Church Training. I was willing. Advice from a wise longtime teacher encouraged me: “Joyce, act like you know what you’re doing with the children.” So I did. Both the Beginners and I survived.

“Act like” in this context means to assume the role. Call to mind a vision of a more experienced leader, and put yourself in her shoes. Do what you imagine Mrs. B would do.   

Since those early days of trying on various leadership roles, I’ve discovered that leadership can often be reduced—and more easily understood—in terms of a balance between inner and outer.

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