What Weight Watchers Taught Me About Ministry

generations womenA few years ago, a round of cancer prompted a large weight loss, but I returned to old habits and gained most of it back. The recent lock-down and pandemic only exasperated the problem. A few weeks ago, I knew I needed to do something, so I joined Weight Watchers. The goal of the program is to lose one to two pounds a week while developing new eating habits, physical activities, and coping strategies. I quickly realized they were employing small group strategy and discipling principles – and I loved it.

What I learned about ministry from Weight Watchers is that it all comes down to showing we C.A.R.E.


The first thing Weight Watchers (WW) did was make me feel welcome and they connected me to a small group. Due to Covide-19 there are limited in-person group meetings, but there are several Zoom groups available. Groups were easy to find with no barriers to joining. I visited a few and settled on a group from Arlington. The leader knows the program and can help when anyone has questions, but her main role is to encourage and equip the members to be successful in reaching their goals. I always attend these weekly meetings! We have worked together to identify my strengths and challenges and to set goals for the future. They make me feel better about who I am, and what I’m doing to grow as a person. They challenge me to do better, to be better. I believe they truly care about me.

What are we doing in our small groups to be sure people feel welcome, are encouraged, and leave equipped to face another week? Can your group leader answer that question for each person in the group?


It’s easy to eat whatever you want when nobody is watching. Accountability keeps us honest. Weekly weigh-in is a time to account for the choices made during the week. Did we stick to the plan and if we made poor choices did we get back on track? If we were successful is there someone to take notice?

WW integrates two types of accountability. Weekly weigh-in is an objective measure of progress. I’m happy to say I’m losing weight every week, but that doesn’t mean I’m forever changing the behaviors that got me to this place. The other accountability system is the Connect online conversation. Think Facebook, but without the advertisements. Everyone that posts something is met with positive reinforcement. People admit to failing so others can help them find ways to make better choices next time. There is no condemnation, because we all know, next week it might be us that needs to confess. Having a safe place to share failure, disappointment, and even success allows for accountability on a personal level. This is where the real change happens.

Do our small groups provide a safe place of encouragement and trust? Do members know they can be vulnerable without fear? Do we use accountability for judgment or for growth?


Learning new habits is hard work. Watching numbers on the scale drop is reinforcing, but sometimes we need to be told we are doing a good job. WW has perfected the reward system. When I log on the WW App it gives me a positive message. When I track meals I earn points I can redeem for trinkets. When you reach weight loss milestones (5, 10, 25, 50… pounds) they send you a charm to collect. They also graph your weight loss so you can watch the line move in a mostly linear downward path. When I feel like I’m not being successful I can hold the charm, look at the graph, and post side-by-side pictures to Connect to remind myself how far I have come. Sometimes when we look in the mirror we see a distorted image. The rewards help us to see the reality of our journey.

Do our small groups reinforce others for spiritual growth? Do we routinely tell people we are observing a difference in them? Do we celebrate individuals beyond the initial point of decision? Are we giving people mile markers so they can measure personal growth? Would it make a difference in their lives if we did?


The most important component of the program is education. WW provides multiple avenues for learning including lecture, written, and video lessons. People can use their primary learning mode and supplement it with the other types of training. The lessons are interesting, focused, and can immediately be applied to your own situation. The small group leaders are not professional educators. They are individuals that are given good teaching materials to use in addition to sharing personal life experiences. I’m glad there are no tests, but I do enjoy the challenge of learning the material and watching how it impacts my decisions moving forward. When I wake in the mornings, one of the first things I do is log on to the app to get my mind set on what I need to do that day to be successful. Sound familiar?

Teaching Bible studies and Sunday school are important and provide a great way to get in-depth training on Scripture, but we must encourage a daily habit of focusing on God’s word. Something as simple as reading a quick devotional like Our Daily Bread can make a big difference in how we approach the coming day. Spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible reading can start as only five-minutes a day. If reading a brief message about eating right can change a person’s life imagine what reading God’s word every morning could do for them!

How do we use education ministries to grow disciples of Christ? Do we encourage people to spend time in God’s word on a daily basis, even if it’s only a few minutes at a time? Are we so busy teaching God’s word that we forget to invite people to live out what is being taught?

C.A.R.E. is an easy acronym to remember as we plan for fall ministries. Whether you lead a Bible study, Sunday school class, or other small group, caring about the people we serve will produce life-changing ministry. Since our goal is multiplication of disciples of Christ, then engraining Matthew 22:37-39 into our small groups is pivotal to creating a vibrant, growing ministry. I encourage you to evaluate your own small group and determine if there are areas you need to focus on to better demonstrate the love of Christ. The current pandemic may have changed how we do ministry, but it has not altered why we do ministry.

Pray for me as I continue my WW journey and I’ll be praying for you as you CARE for the people in your small groups!

Win Every Day

win every day

Webster defines execution as the carrying out or putting into effect of a plan, order, or course of action. Win Every Day: Proven Practices for Extraordinary Resultsby Mark Miller attempts to show the reader how execution can be improved in both business and personal goals. The author walks you through a three-step process of pursuing mastery, owning the numbers, and helping others win. Through the example of Blake, a CEO working to improve his business and Tom, the new football coach at the high school the principles are described and illustrated. Both Blake and Tom were challenged to help their teams see the status of the organization and to determine if change was needed – or even wanted.

One of the strengths of the book was to show how leadership impacts the process of winning every day and the added responsibilities that must be assumed by those casting the vision. Several quotes from the book, pointed to leadership, are worth remembering:

“Every organization decides how great they want to be.” (p. 8)

“The best way to win on game day is to learn how to win every day.” (p. 30)

“We really can’t win every day without everyone.” (p. 70)

“We can encourage you …but if you want to be great you will have to decide.” (p. 81)

“Execution is not one more thing, it is the thing.” (p. 117)

“Your choices are the only things you can control. Choose wisely.” (p. 127)

At only 140 pages, Win Every Day is a quick read, but it contains valuable insight, and more important, direction for how to implement real change in your organization.

My personal business is in the midst of major disruptive factors that are changing the work landscape. We have the choice to change or die. Decisions on questions posed by this book may well drive the direction we move. How good do we want to be?  Is who we are enough? Does our implementation mirror our values? Do we have shared goals and are we working together to achieve them? How am I as a leader helping others to win every day?

As we work through these questions over the next few weeks I will revisit this book to glean a better understanding of the leadership principles. Pursue mastery, own the numbers, and help others win has to become more than a slogan. It needs to be a way of life.

Disclosure: A copy of the book was provided for review. No incentive or direction was given regarding the content of the review.

Leadership Advice from Shari Edwards

What is your best piece of leadership advice to another women’s ministry leader?



I teach a college course on “Women’s Ministry in the Local Church” and much of my passion for equipping the younger generation comes from lessons I’ve learned along the way. I share with them a list “Top five things I would tell my younger leadership self”:

  1. Pray more. Know God’s truth in Scripture and claim it in your life. Go to Him first with struggles, questions, complaints, and praises.
  2. Be sober and alert. The enemy is always prowling! Don’t give the enemy room to establish a stronghold.
  3. You have nothing to prove to people. Don’t try to be all things to all people and let go of trying to do “all the things.”
  4. Always keep your eyes on Jesus, wait on the Lord, and use your gifts where you are. Be aware of and love the people who are in your life right now—both younger and older.
  5. Always keep learning. None of us has it all figured out, and that’s the beauty of walking with God because we get to see what He is doing in His power!

Originally posted on LifeWay Ministry to Women. Read the full article here.

Fields For Harvest

Green corn field growing up on blue skyThere is a corn field I pass on my way to work each morning. Last spring as the ground was being prepared for planting I thought of the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-8). The ground was tilled and soon I saw rows where the seeds had been scattered. Each week there would be changes and I began to considered how the corn field was like the fields we tend for the Lord.

The crop began to grow and I noticed the corn in the center was tall and green. The plants on the edge of the field were green, but shorter and not as bright in color. As the season progressed, some of the stalks on the edge began to turn brown and others struggled hard to grow. My attention was drawn to the lush, thick, green stalks in the center and the sweet corn I knew they would soon produce. I sometimes wondered why the farmer didn’t water the edges more so all the stalks would yield a good harvest.

Summer arrived and we experienced record breaking heat. The field began to dry out. The stalks at the edge died quickly and even the thick, green stalks in the center showed signs of the rough weather. The farmer must not have cared for his field because after only a few weeks I looked at what was once lush and green to see it had become of sea of brown. The stalks were dead or dying. The corn had not been gathered. The work this farmer had done in the spring was now wasted and no good had come from it.

A few weeks later I noticed the field had been cut and the dead stalks were gone. It had become a barren, uninviting place to see. However, the empty field was soon covered in bales of dried corn plants. I smiled as I realized that the plants would serve a purpose, though not the original one intended, and the work had not all been in vain. The farmer is now preparing the field for winter and I anticipate a new crop will be planted in the spring with the hope of a great harvest next fall.

When someone is asked for a philosophy of ministry they often say the Great Commandment and the Great Commission (Matthew 22:37-40; Matthew 28:19—20) guide their path. Likewise, if they have been in church life, they might say the goal of ministry is to reach, teach, and minister to the people. Both of these descriptions are correct, but they do not reflect the nuisance of Christian ministry as seen in the growing corn field.

The process begins with the farmer getting up early to prepare to go to his field. Ministers of the faith must also prepare themselves through regular time in study of God’s Word and prayer. The fields must be plowed so the seeds can take a firm hold in the soil.

For the ministry to grow deep roots, relationships must be built with the people we hope to reach. The field needs to be watered, weeded, and watched for consistent growth. Likewise, we must consistently care for all the people and not only those that are most receptive or willing to serve. The people on the edge of the church may require extra attention, but it will help them grow to be fully devoted followers of Christ.

If everything goes well then the corn will grow large and the harvest will be full. There will be seasons, however, when the fields do not grow and we watch our labors fall to the ground. In ministry these may be the times of greatest personal growth and spiritual renewal as we call upon the Lord for His leading and help. If we remain faithful (1 Corinthians 9:24) we will be given new direction and the ministry will continue to grow. Ministers must remain open to change.

The final stage of the corn field is preparing for the future. Just as the farmer prepares the field for next year’s harvest so must we prepare for the future. Leadership development and mentoring in a Paul and Timothy manner is essential for the continuity of ministry within the church. Every minister should have someone they are mentoring and someone that mentors them.

For me if comes down to loving God and loving others. If I love above all else then the fields will be white for harvest.

Help, My Church Doesn’t Support Women’s Ministry

womens teaI love women’s ministry. Chris Adams once defined women’s ministry as “to serve or be a servant. Ministry simply refers to the act of ministering to or the act of performing service for another.”(1) I think we all agree that women’s ministry is not confined to the church building. We should be reaching out to women in all of life’s contexts including school, work, family, and community activities.

However, the question posed is how do you intentionally minister to women in your church when the church doesn’t support a women’s ministry?

Prayer is Foundational

Before you begin to search for answers pray for the situation, your church, and pastor. Be sure to pray for them and not about them! By that I mean, you are asking the Lord to open your eyes to see things from others perspectives. You should want to understand your pastor’s heart and why he does not support a formal women’s program. Ask the Lord to help you examine your own heart. What has motivated you to want to serve women in your church?

Church Vision

A church may elect to not have a formal women’s ministry for many reasons. Individual ministries, or silo ministries, use to be the main stay of church programs, but that is no longer the case. Many churches are looking to blend activities across ages rather than separate into affinity groups.

Sometimes it’s as simple as resources. If the pastor has limited staff he may not elect to bring on new ministries that he does not have time to personally encourage. Also, a women’s ministry may not best serve the vision for the church during a particular season. Many church plants or urban churches choose to not have specific women’s programs.

Would a women’s ministry move the church vision forward?

Options Outside of Women’s Ministry

If your church does not have a formal women’s ministry program you still have many opportunities to reach women. Look at the women sitting around you in worship service and develop relationships. Start a women’s small group for Bible study or other activities. You might start a book club or do crafts together, always keeping the Good News central to why you are gathering.

Titus 2:3-5 is foundational to most women’s ministries, but organic mentoring can take many forms and has been shown to be more effective with the millennial generation (2). Invite one or two women to lunch or to share a mid-morning coffee and begin to do life together. Is there a young mother in your church that could use some help? Offer to come watch the kids while she is catching up on laundry, go grocery shopping together, or teach her to make your signature dish!

Look in your church for the Proverbs 31 woman that is trying to do it all. Is there a woman striving to serve her family, work outside the home, be active in her community, and still participate in the church? How might you show God’s mercy and grace to her? What if she is single and working to support herself, maintain her home and yard, and manage a social calendar so she is not alone? What might you do to illustrate God’s love to her?

Women’s ministry has been evolving over the past few years (3,4) and I think we will continue to see changes in how it is expressed in our churches. Women will always seek out other women so in it’s purest form women’s ministry will occur. However, if your church elects to not support a formal ministry to women you can still find many ways to encourage and equip women for kingdom service.

  1. Adams, C. (2009). Women’s enrichment ministry. Nashville, TN: LifeWay Christian Resources, p. 7.
  2. Edwards, S., & Neumann, B. (2014). Organic mentoring: A mentor’s guide to relationships with next generation women. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
  3. Taylor, M. (2009). Brave new women: The transformation of women’s ministry in 21st century culture. Retrieved from http://leadnet.org/brave_new_ women_transformation_of_womens_ministry_21st_century_culture/
  4. Parker, B. (2017). An investigation of millennial and older generations expectations of women’s ministry: A Delphi study (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertation and Theses database. (UMI No. 10619995).

Sacred Holidays – A Review

sacred holidaySacred Holidays by Becky Kiser is not what I expected. It’s not a book – well, it is a book, but it’s not a chapter-by-chapter story. Sacred Holidays is organized into three parts with Part 1 discussing how to focus on less chaos and more Jesus. Honestly, that is what I thought the whole book was about and in a way it is, but not as specific as these first two chapters. Part 2 helps you examine each holiday from New Years, to the summer season, birthdays, and finally ending with Advent and Christmas. Part 3 is extra material on dealing with common struggles encountered during holidays. Personally, I think Part 3 should be required reading.

So why read Sacred Holidays? I would encourage you to read it because it isn’t a regular book! We all want less chaos and more Jesus, but to be honest reading about it never seems to change anything. Sacred Holidays takes the extra step of helping you walk through a process to reduce the stress and focus on Christ.

For example, let’s look at New Year’s since it’s coming up soon. First the author talks about new beginnings and change and provides multiple Scriptures on the topic. Then she asks ‘the questions’. These questions are asked for each holiday. “Why do you celebrate the new year? What are some ideas you’ve heard of that might make this holiday more meaningful, What has worked, What hasn’t worked, What do you want to try in the future?” Next comes the action statements, “What struggles do you need to prepare for?” This was my favorite part! She asks you to consider how to “not be THAT Christian” and how to deal with conflict, budgets, schedules, and grief.

By the time you get to the end of each holiday chapter you have reflected on the why and how of holiday celebration from a Christian worldview. You have been given opportunities to reflect on the way it has always been and how you might make changes for the future. If you follow the process with prayer and a heart open to change you will walk away from the next holiday with less chaos and more Jesus. I know this, because I just survived Thanksgiving the Scared Holidays way!

To purchase the book go to the LifeWay Website

Disclaimer: A copy of the book was provided in exchange for an independent review. Neither B&H Publishing or the author had input on the review content.

Living Fit by Ronnie Floyd

Living Fit by Ronnie Floyd“ Your choices today will determine your fitness tomorrow” is the first of many highlights by Ronnie Floyd in his new book Living Fit: Making Your Life Count by Pursuing a Healthy You published by B&H Publishing Group in 2018. The book contains five sections divided into twenty chapters. The main sections discuss how to live fit spiritually, physically, relationally, financially, and emotionally. Each chapter provides a Scriptural foundation with imbedded questions to help the reader personalize the information for life change.

Living fit spiritually focuses on living a purposeful life with intentionality. Floyd states, “The process always precedes the product” (p. 21); a theme he repeats throughout the text. If the goal is a holistic healthy life then there is a process to be followed over time. Fitness is not achieved without discipline and direction based on a foundation of spiritual maturity.

Living fit physically centers on life’s dependence on each decision made. Physical fitness is equally coupled with spiritual, relational, financial, and emotional fitness as it is on eating right and exercise. “Refuse to see your life as being compartmentalized. You are not divided and cannot live like you are” (p. 53). Floyd goes on to state we have four major problems in our lives. “We have a mind problem, a will problem, an emotional problem, and a body problem” (p. 57). Each of these areas must be addressed for whole body fitness. To do so we must see ourselves as a whole person and not focus on the parts (1 Thessalonians 5:23). To give God control of our body is part of giving Him control over our life.

Living fit relationally challenges the reader to live selflessly, lovingly, truly connected to others, as expressed through service. Much of the information on relational living is based on servant leadership as described by Greenleaf. Biblical servant leadership takes the idea of service to others and shifts to purpose to the glorification of God. By serving others with humility our relationships will be stronger. “Serving others always results in a healthy relationship” (p. 115).

Living fit financially provided five principles for financial stability. Floyd suggests, being on a budget, getting out of debt, saving money, focusing on quality relationships, and being generous will lead to financial health. “When you refuse to think about practical matters like monthly expenses, healthcare, life insurance, and retirement, you are living irresponsibly” (p. 137).

Living fit emotionally emphasizes paying attention to the warning signs our life gives us when trouble is coming. Life should be ordered and not chaotic. When your body is sending you emotional signals of worry, frustration, or pain it is important to listen and take action. “The goal is not personal perfection, but personal progress” (p. 160). Floyd says one of the best ways to live emotionally fit is to live gratefully. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in making us less anxious about the future.

In summary, the book was not what I expected, but it was exactly what I needed. Each chapter is embedded with Scripture to always bring the reader back to the place of dependence on God. What I most liked about the book was the holistic approach to health. Success in one area is not complete without a balanced discipline in all the areas. While human flesh might succeed for a while, we cannot maintain a healthy lifestyle on our own.

The introduction suggested that the reader should periodically “step back” and take account of what was read. This was excellent advice and I would encourage you to do the same. The book is a quick read, maybe a couple of hours, but to really take in the information for life change it should be read slowly letting the nuance of each section soak into our minds. This is the type of book you will read more than once. Scan it quickly the first time to get an aerial view of the information, but then slowly dive deep into each section for application and conviction. This was a great book for personal use, but I would also recommend it for group study. Each chapter contains challenge questions that are perfect for group discussions.

Disclosure: This is an unsolicited review made without input or direction from the author or publisher. A copy of the book was provided for the review.

Move Over Millennials

WM leading seriesMany of you know my recent dissertation focused on the difference in how millennial aged and women who are older view women’s ministry.  It was a great study, but the information is quickly becoming obsolete. We already need to be focusing on the youngest generation… iGen, for lack of a better term.

I’ve provided a link to a great article by Ashley Chestnut who serves as the Associate Singles 20s/30s Minister at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. In the article she says ” I encourage you to grab coffee or dinner with some recent college graduates in your church in order to get to know them and to find out what life is like for them. What is important to them? How do they spend their time? What do they consider to be important social and cultural issues? What YouTube channels do they follow? What are their go-to apps? What ideas do they have about women’s ministry? Have an open mind and hear what they have to say.”  All great questions and suggestions.

Here is the link to When iGen Enters Your Women’s Ministry

Share what you are doing to reach iGen through your women’s ministry in the comments below. How does ministry look different from what we have been doing with millennial age women? What can you suggest to help others?

A Shift in the SBC


There is an interesting article  about potential changes in the SBC and the ripple effect it may have on evangelical America.  I have not come to final thoughts about the shift that is occurring in Baptist life – and there is a shift happening – so I’ll reserve comment for now.  Read the article and let me know your thoughts.

  • Do you think Dr. Patterson should have been fired or was the original decision to retire him with benefits correct?
  • Is asking women to serve in higher leadership enough or do you think there will be a push for women to assume senior pastoral or more theological teaching positions?
  • Will people of color support the SBC’s traditional conservative positions or will there be a push to move to moderate politics and theology statements?
  • Will the SBC support J.D. Geear as he moves the denomination in new cultural directions or will we see a growing division within the convention?
  • Where will women’s ministry land when the dust settles?  Will the traditional role of women’s ministry continue or will it get shuffled in the effort to raise women up in leadership throughout the church?
  • What does Scripture say that may impact how we respond to these changes?

These are a few of the ideas I’m working through as I read comments, opinion pieces, and Scripture.  What questions do you have?  What is our next step?

Mile Marker

I wrote the following post in 2007. I still have my mile marker journal and it lists the many times I knew the Lord had specifically directed my steps. Enjoy this trip down memory lane with me and consider starting your own mile marker.

I keep a journal of events that mark changes in my walk with Christ. I call it my “mile marker” – so I know if I am moving forward, standing still, or going backwards.

One of the things in the journal is an October 2005 entry for when I decided to call Mike Simmons my Pastor. For me it is more than just a title – it’s a position of authority. It was significant that I trusted a man enough to call him by that name.

A later entry marks the first time I was introduced as a “religious leader” in the community. It was at CrossRoads Covenant Church in DeSoto. I was humbled to be introduced to the church along with others that minister God’s Word.

I’ve even noted my first invitation to pray for a group where I was not a member.

But, not everything is positive. I also included the time I used scripture to hurt someone I love and did it publicly. I cried for hours at the realization of what I had done. On top of that, he came to me to apologize for making me upset enough to do that! Was a powerful lesson in humility and love that I will never, ever forget.

Then there is yesterday. What made it a mile-marker? I have received several phone calls and emails from people saying how they appreciate that I stood up for Christianity and even more so for not backing down when pushed. I surprised myself when I realized I was standing on the front steps of City Hall loudly proclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord! It was the first public assault on my faith and I survived the test.

These events will soon fade into my memory, but I will have this record of what happened, how the Lord met my ever need, and blessed this path He has set me on.

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3