Monday, October 25, 2010

Support Networks – what do you do together?

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

Support Networks – what do you do together?

We have looked at reasons to be part of a support network (1, 2, & 3) and we have looked at the various types of support networks you might be involved in (including personal, groups, formal, online).

There is one more thing to consider: What should you do when you meet together?

Here are some thoughts (which apply more to the personal and group networks)

1. Pray. Share prayer points certainly, but also make sure you actually pray for each other. This should probably be the main part of time together.

2. Read God’s word. This could be a large or small part of your time together, but it should be included. Some groups might choose to work through parts of the bible together, working out what it means and how it applies to them – just like a bible study. Other groups might have a reading together or just a few verses to ponder.

3. Model and mentor, encourage and be accountable (these were the reasons to have a support network). Let’s make sure when we meet together we actually do these things, rather than just have a chat.

4. Work through issues together that are unique to ministry wives. This may be the only forum you have to talk about what it means to be a ministry wife – use it for that purpose. Look at parts of the pastoral epistles together, read books together and talk about how all these things are practically worked out for you.

5. Spend time together socially. If you really want a support network to work, make time to also become friends. Go out for coffee, get together with the families, go away together.

6. Care practically for each other. Help when they are sick, provide meals, offer babysitting, remember birthdays. Become their Christian family.

If you are a new group, it may feel awkward trying to get going. You could start by reading an article or book together to break the ice.

There are a couple of things to beware of when meeting together:

1. Gossip. We have more knowledge about people that almost anyone else in the church. We must not ever abuse that power by sharing information about other people or betraying confidences inappropriately.

2. Whingeing or bitterness. While we should be supporting one another through the hard times, we must not let our times together become sessions of complaint. If you find that you are always complaining about the elders, the parish council, or your housing – be prepared to ban those topics with each other unless you can speak with more respect.

What are some things we can do to help an existing network function better?
  • Be honest with each other. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Once one person opens up, others are likely to follow.
  • Spend time focusing on thankfulness (this will work as an antidote to whingeing or bitterness, mentioned above).
  • Share answers to prayer with each other (unless you have a fantastic memory, you will want to record prayer points so you can remember your own and follow others up).
  • Be open to new people joining your group. You don’t want to be closed but welcoming. Let them know they are welcome and you are happy to have them there. It’s hard to arrive as the new person into a well established group.
  • Be wise with what you share & sensitive with how you share it. If you are part of a group whose husbands are on the same team, you would not talk about the frustrations your husband has with others on the team.
As we have said previously, we want to encourage each other and keep each other accountable, modelling godliness as we meet together.

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