Speaking Engagements, Special Events

Women’s Events on a Shoestring Budget

 

Have you ever wanted to host a women’s conference (or any event, really) at your church, but it just wasn’t in the budget?

My husband and I have served a lot of small churches, so those tight-knit fellowships and their pastors hold a special place in my heart – especially the ones who want to give their ladies a doctrinally sound alternative to the mega-conferences whose doctrine can be questionable at best.

I’ve spoken at some absolutely wonderful conferences hosted by small churches, so I know it can be done with excellence if you’re not afraid to think creatively and work efficiently.

Here are a few suggestions to prayerfully consider if you’re putting together an event on a shoestring budget. And readers, I want to hear from you too – what has your church done to support and finance special events that has worked well? Add your comment in the comments section at the end of the article.

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I’m going to start with a principle that applies to anyone doing professional work for your church, from conference speakers, to the band playing a concert at your youth event, to the plumber fixing the pipes in the bathroom, to the accountant who does your church’s bookkeeping:

You must pay workers, and you must pay them a fair wage or fee in addition to their expenses (travel, lodging, etc.).

I’ve been blessed that every host church I’ve ever spoken at has understood this and has been very generous with me, but I’ve heard that there are Christians out there who expect anyone doing anything for their church to do it for free because it’s “ministry”. Some even begrudge paying their pastor a salary! This is not biblical. In fact, the Bible says just the opposite.

It often takes many hours of hard work to properly prepare for a speaking engagement, concert, etc. (And don’t get me started on how much time pastors put into their jobs compared to the salaries most of them earn.) This pre-event work as well as the event itself may take the worker away from her family or cause her to have to cancel other activities. She may even have to take time off from her regular job to work at your event. What she’s doing for you is work and she deserves to be fairly compensated for it. This is one aspect of your event that you can’t cut corners on.

Sometimes it is hard to know what a fair wage is for the worker you’re hiring. And, indeed, it will vary from worker to worker. Ask her for a number. Figure out whether or not that amount is feasible on your end. Then, be honest with her and let her know whether or not you can guarantee (not try to raise, not “take up a love offering at the conference and hope for the best” – guarantee) that amount. If you can’t, it is then up to her to decide whether or not she can afford to work at your event. Being honest and transparent from the get go helps remove a lot of the awkwardness that comes with talking about money. I know I always appreciate it.

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Now that you know one of the expenses for the event, it will be easier to estimate a  budget to cover it and the rest of the expenditures. Sit down with your planning committee and prayerfully discuss the purchases you’ll need to make for food, decorations, and any other materials, and come up with a reasonable budget for your particular venue. Use godly wisdom and exercise good stewardship.

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Don’t try to compete with the expensive glitz, glam, and giveaways of mega-conferences. You do you, your church or host organization. I’ve seen many churches go with a “simple elegance” or “homestyle” or “local charm” level of theme and decor that has turned out perfectly lovely and welcoming (Check out some of the church events I’ve spoken at.). And remember, it’s the caring and hospitality of the hosts that will make the greatest impact on your attendees, not the swanky food, decorations and swag bags.

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Plan your event as far in advance as possible. Not only will this give you plenty of time to raise funds, but some expenses – plane tickets for your speaker, for example – go up as time goes by.

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While some speakers need to stay in a hotel for various reasons, others are perfectly willing to be fed and housed by church members, which can cut your expenses considerably. Ask your speaker which she prefers and be ready to graciously provide either type of accommodation.

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Go local. If you can find an appropriate speaker who lives in or near your town, it will cut down on your travel and accommodation expenses for her.

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Ask your pastor or elders if there is any money set aside in your church’s budget for the women’s ministry or special events. Find out whether or not you can use it and if there are any requirements for how it must or must not be spent.

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Put the word out to your whole church and ask for help. Make a list of the things you’ll need that people can donate or lend: fresh flowers from members’ gardens for centerpieces, table cloths, paper plates, small gift bag items like pens and notepads, snack items, etc.

You could even have some fun with it and throw a women’s conference “shower,” registering for the items you need (even WalMart and Target have registries these days) and inviting the whole congregation to bring their gifts and come fellowship together. And don’t forget the “money tree” (or some other receptacle) for people who would rather give cash or a check.

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Take up a love offering from your congregation for conference expenses. If your conference is far enough ahead in the future, you might be able to take up two or three over time.

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Consider a crowdfunding campaign for event expenses such as Go Fund Me or Kickstarter (there are even Christian crowdfunding sites), or set up a PayPal account specifically for donations for the event. (Some Christians feel it is biblically inappropriate to ask non-Christians to donate to a Christian cause. You will need to find out where your church stands on this issue when deciding who to share the crowdfunding information with.)

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Have a good, old fashioned fundraiser at church, such as a church-wide “garage sale,” bake sale, or car wash.

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Consider partnering with another doctrinally sound local church (or two or three!) to co-host the event and split the expenses. (Check out their doctrine first. You can’t biblically partner with churches that teach false doctrine.)

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To recoup your expenses (don’t depend on these to cover expenses) and maybe set some money aside for your next event, consider selling tickets at a nominal price, suggesting a voluntary donation amount, or “pay what you can,” for tickets, and/or taking up a love offering at the event.

Most attendees could afford, say, a $5 ticket, and if you have 100 attendees, that’s $500 to start off next year’s event budget. You could also offer the option of sponsoring tickets. People who want to support the conference could give enough money to cover a certain number of tickets, which could then be given away to women who would like to attend but can’t afford to.

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It should go without saying, but be sure to get your pastor’s, elders’, or other leadership’s approval every step of the way.

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With plenty of prayer, wisdom, organized planning, and good stewardship, it is possible for small churches to host an awesome event that will glorify God and be a blessing to the women of your church and community.


Here’s a question a few readers asked
in response to the article above.

 

I loved your article Women’s Events on a Shoestring Budget. The funding tips encouraged me to put on an event for our ladies, but our small church has never done anything like this before. What kind of event should we have and how should we get started?

I was so encouraged to get a couple of questions like this in response to my article. Even at a small church (and sometimes especially at a small church) a women’s event can really help refresh and build up the ladies of your church. It can be a great outreach to the ladies of your community, too.

I would recommend starting small and then growing year by year. For example, if I were in a church with an attendance of 50-150, I would start with an in-house (only ladies from your own church) mini-conference. A Saturday morning simple breakfast (coffee, doughnuts, fruit – food that’s easy to get, serve, and handle), followed by a local speaker (maybe the pastor’s wife at a sister church, or even one of the ladies in your own church) and a couple of songs. You could end there, or possibly have a time of discussion around the tables afterward, or just allow the ladies to hang around and fellowship with each other.

The next year, you could build on that. Maybe the speaker does two sessions with a break between, and you invite/publicize to other local churches. The following year, you could do an overnight retreat or you could expand the conference to an all day thing and have more than one speaker. If you start small and grow your event each year, you’ll learn things you should and shouldn’t do differently along the way, and you won’t be biting off more than you can chew the first time out.

Another thing that might be a good idea is to have a meeting with all of your ladies and ask them what kind of event they’d like. You might be thinking “conference” and they might be thinking “movie night”. It’s good to brainstorm and take the pulse of your ladies on what they’d prefer.

You could also get the men of your church involved in putting together and serving at your conference or event. I spoke at one conference where the men of the church actually put on the conference for their ladies – to honor and thank them. That was one happy bunch of ladies!

Just remember what I said in the article: Don’t try to compete with the expensive glitz, glam, and giveaways of mega-conferences. You do you, your church or host organization…And remember, it’s the caring and hospitality of the hosts that will make the greatest impact on your attendees, not the swanky food, decorations and swag bags.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should I cut ties with a friend who follows false teachers?

I have a friend who follows Todd White* and some other false teachers. I’ve talked to him about it and shown him why I’m concerned. He appreciated my concern, but didn’t think Todd White’s heretical beliefs were a big deal. What do I do with this friendship? Am I supposed to cut ties with him for his beliefs?

You have been very loving and caring to share the dangers of false teachers with your friend. Indeed, you would not have been a good friend to him if you hadn’t.

Just to clarify, to me the phrase “cut ties with” means to that you will no longer be in contact with this person in any way. Generally speaking, unless your friend has become obsessed with White and the others to the point that he can’t talk about anything else and is pushing them on you, my counsel would be no, you don’t need to cut ties with him based solely on the fact that he follows false teachers. Your continued friendship could be God’s grace to him, wooing your friend to Himself through your love and godly example.

One thing you will want to keep in mind is that your friend may not be truly saved and needs a clear explanation of the gospel rather than discernment information (which he won’t be able to understand or accept if he’s not saved). John 10 explicitly says that Christ’s sheep will not follow the voice of a stranger (false teacher).

(Now, readers, hear me clearly – sometimes genuine sheep wander for a minute. And sometimes a genuine sheep who’s been following around a wolf in sheep’s clothing recently will temporarily resist the idea that her new favorite teacher is actually a wolf rather than a sheep. Be a good friend like this reader was and lovingly explain to your friend what the Bible says. Then, be patient as your friend processes what you’ve said, and the Holy Spirit works – on His timetable.)

Take a page out of 1 Peter 3:1-6‘s book. You have explained the false doctrine. You have let your friend know that you are open to discussing it further in the future if he has any questions. If the Holy Spirit drops one of those “too amazing to be ignored” opportunities in your lap to put an appropriate word into a conversation with him, you can take advantage of that opportunity. Aside from that, just like the wife of the unsaved husband in this passage, you do not need to constantly bring up the issue. Be faithful in prayer for your friend, occasionally invite him to Bible studies and other events at your doctrinally sound church, love, serve and help him, and trust the Holy Spirit to do His good work in His good time.

What will the Holy Spirit’s “good work” look like?

• Your friend will get genuinely saved and leave the false teachers behind.

• Your friend is already saved, and he’ll repent of straying after false teachers and will turn back to obeying God’s Word.

• Your friend is not saved, rejects the gospel you share with him, and God gives him over to a hardened heart that “will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) At this point, he will probably cut ties with you. It can be heartbreaking to watch, but judgment is also a good work of the Holy Spirit.

But since you can’t know what the future holds for your friend, keep praying and let him know you’re always there for him if he ever has questions about the Bible or needs to talk. Until he draws his last breath, there’s always hope that the Prodigal will come to his senses and come home.


*I have added a section of resources on Todd White to the Popular False Teachers tab at the top of this page.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Special Events

Help me celebrate the “Big 5-0!”

UPDATE: I HAVE MET MY FUNDRAISING GOAL!!!! Thank you so much for your generosity! I hope to see you at the Cruciform Conference in October!

1969: Man landed on the moon…Woodstock…Sesame Street debuted on TV…John MacArthur began his pastorate at Grace Community Church…and I was born.

Tomorrow – just like all those other events of 1969 – I’m turning 50! And I’d like to ask you to help me celebrate by considering partnering with me in ministry.

This October, I’ve been invited to speak¹ at the Cruciform Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Cruciform is an up and coming Christian conference for men and women that “proclaims the abrasive, true, and hard gospel that leads to real life.” This year’s speakers include several names you might recognize, including Dustin Benge and Kofi Adu-Boahen.

Though the 2019 conference will be its very first gathering, I see the potential Cruciform has for edifying and equipping Believers this year and in the years to come, and I’d like to lend my support by teaching God’s Word to the ladies in attendance.

Want to partner with me in giving Cruciform a great kickoff event? You can help with a financial contribution to cover my travel, expenses, and fees associated with speaking at Cruciform, or you can donate frequent flier miles to cover or defray the cost of my plane tickets.

I’ve set a fundraising goal of $1200.

I would be most grateful for any amount you’d like to contribute, but in celebration of my fiftieth birthday, if I could get…

50 of my readers to each contribute $24
or
24 of my readers to each contribute $50

…I could quickly meet my goal.

If you’d like to make a donation, there are two ways to contribute: my regular PayPal account, or the new Go Fund Me account I’ve set up specifically for these conference expenses. Click the payment option you prefer:

 

If you’d like to donate Frequent Flier Miles to help with my plane ticket, please drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com. I will only be able to use American, Delta, or United Airlines miles as those are the only airlines that fly out of Baton Rouge.

Thank you so much for considering partnering with me in this ministry opportunity! And even if you can’t help financially, I hope you’ll consider attending the Cruciform Conference if you’ll be in the Indianapolis area this coming October 18-19.


¹I do not normally fund raise for speaking events. This is a unique, and as far as I know, one time only, situation.
Obedience

Throwback Thursday ~ Faultfinders Contending With the Almighty

Originally published September 25, 2015

faultfinders

Nobody could ever accuse Christianity of being easy. A religion that tells you to die to self and take up your cross daily is no walk in the park. And there’s no magical moment in this life when you’ve suddenly “arrived” at the top level of spiritual 1 tim 2 12maturity where everything in the Bible makes perfect sense, your prayer life is phenomenal every day, obeying Christ’s commands is a breeze, and you’re floating around on a little cloud of holiness.

We are all messed up, muddling through, and constantly battling the flesh, from the person who got saved five minutes ago to the theologian who’s been walking with the Lord for decades.

It’s hard enough to obey the Scriptures we embrace – love one another, be kind, be matt 6 15truthful – but then we encounter Scriptures that, for whatever reason, we butt heads with. Scriptures to which our initial, fleshly reaction is, “No way. I’m not doing that.” We argue with them. We look for loopholes and ways we can get around them. We reason out all sorts of caveats as to why that Scripture doesn’t apply to us or why we don’t have to obey it.

My parents hurt me deeply. There’s no way I’m going to honor the people who did that to me.

God gave me a special gifting and called me to preach. It doesn’t matter that I’m a woman.

Why should I forgive him? He’s never even said he’s sorry!

You have no idea how badly she hurt me. I’ll never be able to love her or pray for her.

ex 20 12There’s no denying it, sometimes obeying a certain Scripture will be the hardest thing we ever do. But slaves to Christ are not given the option of saying “no” to their Master. If you’ll look in your Bible at the verse you’re struggling against, you’ll notice there’s no asterisk next to it that says, “except you.”

When we approach one of God’s commands to Christians and decide we’re not going to obey it because we don’t want to or shouldn’t have to or it’s too hard, what we’re really doing is setting ourselves above the Bible in judgment of it and coming to the conclusion that we know better 1 pet 3 1 2than God.

Yeah, that’s not a good idea. Especially for Christians.

Ever read the book of Job? Job went through some pretty awful stuff. Stuff that I certainly would have argued against and questioned God about just like he did. And yet, despite all of Job’s suffering, God didn’t give him a pass.

And the Lord said to Job:
“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?

He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?

I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.”
Job 40:1-5

 And how does this grab you?

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
Romans 9:20-21

Do you get the sense from these verses, which address very different situations, that God isn’t crazy about people questioning His sovereignty, His decisions, or His word, regardless of their circumstances?

God is God. We are not.

God sets the rules for Christianity, not “everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes.”

matt 5 44Lots of times we think we have to “feel comfortable” with a certain Scripture if we’re to obey it, but the truth is just the opposite. When we say, “Lord, I don’t want to do this, but I’m going to do it anyway because I love You and Your word says so,” guess what happens? God begins to change our hearts. In time, He helps us grow to embrace the Scriptures we once rejected. He helps us to love others and see them through His eyes.

Yes, it is going to be hard. There are going to be times when we have to grit our teeth, hold our noses, and obey Christ even when everything inside us screams, “NO!

But we have a precious Savior who has promised to help us be content in any circumstance and will give us the strength to do anything He puts in front of us.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I’ve fought. I’ve cried. I’ve whined, “I can’t!” And every time God has brought me back to this verse that says, “Yes, you can, and I’ll help you.” And you know what? He did.

Obedience is hard, but Christ is worth it.

1&2 Timothy Bible Study

1 & 2 Timothy: Lesson 2

Previous Lessons: 1

Read 1 Timothy 1

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the housekeeping/helpful hints section and “Introduction to 1 Timothy” section from lesson 1 (link above).

2. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to list his credentials and explain his relationship to Timothy in verses 1-2? Why would this have been important to Paul and Timothy, to the members of Timothy’s church, to anyone else at that time who happened to read this letter, and to readers of 1 Timothy today? Where was Timothy’s church located? (3)

3. What is the very first issue Paul tackles regarding Timothy’s church? (3-11) What does this tell you about the urgency of this issue then, and now?

Today, with regard to false teachers, Christians will often say things like, “You shouldn’t say anything negative about that person, you should just pray for her,” or “You should just teach the truth of the Bible and people will figure out for themselves who the false teachers are.” Is this what the Holy Spirit, via Paul, instructs Timothy to do? (3-4) How is Timothy instructed to address the false teachers? (3-4) Why is it urgent that Timothy (and pastors today) deal with false doctrine and not allow it in his church? (4b, 7)

What is supposed to be the motive and goal of pastors, teachers, and church members when it comes to living the Christian life and serving the church? (5) When teachers “swerve from these,” what does that swerving lead to? (6-7)

Compare verse 19 to verses 5-6, noting the similarities. Who were Hymenaeus and Alexander? (use your cross references) How does Paul say he handled these false teachers? (20) Why did he do this? (20) Compare Paul’s handling of unrepentant false teachers in the church to Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus’ instruction of how to handle unrepentant sinners in the church (18:17b). Why is it necessary to remove unrepentant sinners and false teachers from the church and to regard them as non-Christians (“hand over to Satan”, “let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”)? (20b, 4b) What is the goal of a Christian regarding anyone who is not a Christian? Are these actions toward false teachers in keeping with the motive and aim Paul expressed in verse 5?

4. Examine the words “genealogies” (4), “teachers of the law” (7), and the discussion about the law in verses 8-9. Now, draw from what you may already know about the false teaching of the Judaizers in the early church. What do you think is the general topic the false teaching Paul addresses in chapter 1 has to do with?

5. What does it mean to “use the law lawfully” (8)? (9) Who are the “just”? (9) Who are “the lawless and disobedient…the ungodly and sinners” (9a)? (9b-10) Which is the correct (lawful) group to “lay the law down for” (9a)? (9b-10)

If 8-11 describe the lawful use of the law – who it should be laid down for – what can you conclude about the false teachers’ use of the law? Who were they laying it down for? Why is this false teaching? (10b-11)

6. What is “sound doctrine” (10b)? (11) Why is it important that all pastors and teachers preach and teach sound doctrine?

7. Read 12-17. What are some adjectives you would use to describe Paul’s character and his view of himself? What is Paul’s view of his position in relationship to Christ? How does Paul see what Christ has done in his life as an example for others? (16) Pray through these verses asking God to develop in you the same view of yourself and your position before God that Paul had.

8. We’re going to see the word “charge” several times in 1 & 2 Timothy. How many times does this word appear in chapter 1? What does the word “charge” mean in verse 3? In verses 5 & 18?


Homework

Believe it or not, there are still false teachers out there today teaching that Christians must obey Old Testament civil and ceremonial laws. Do some research on the Hebrew Roots Movement to learn more, and if you come across a good resource about it, please comment below and share.


Suggested Memory Verse