If you haven't read The Secret Sister Dilemma Article, you may want to start there before reading through this page.
Improving Your Secret Sister Program
Posted August 29, 2003
Here are some ideas to get you thinking about what you can do to improve your 'Sister' program.
Change the type and name of program.
Change from Secret Sisters to Prayer Partners, Prayer Sisters, Encouragement Sisters, Your Church Name Encouragers, Fellowship Sisters, or anything you would like.
Changing the name will be a plus, especially if your Secret Sister program has a bad reputation. But also, changing the name might spur on some of the ladies that don’t participate currently in your program to be motivated and involve them in a new ministry.
Change your gift giving policy.
Change your gift policy if your group is involved in gift giving. Things may be running fine with your gift giving and receiving, but if it isn’t and it’s become too much the main thrust of your Secret Sisters, then change the gift giving policy.
You may just want to just allow exchanging of cards and prayers and no gifts. Or you may not want to eliminate gifts entirely, but only allow flowers and food gifts such as candy, breads, desserts, and homemade goodies.
Another alternative is to allow only one gift such as a birthday gift, Christmas gift, or one to be given at your 'Secret' Sister revealing function. Some churches allow for all three of those occasions.
Concentrate on encouragement among your ladies though fellowship and prayer and downplay the gift giving. If you are keeping some type of gift giving policy, then always refer to it as an 'extra'.
Make the main thrust of the group a means to edify and build up your 'sisters'. The purpose and desire of each lady should be to be a blessing through the program.
Make a purpose to your program.
Determine the main focus of your group and what you want to accomplish in your 'sister' ministry. Write out a purpose or mission statement.
Let everyone know the expectations.
Let everyone involved know what is expected of her as a 'sister'. Have a few guidelines.
Is there a minimum number of times that they should contact their 'sisters' throughout the year? Do you have a gift giving policy or limit on what can be exchanged?
Make an overview sheet to keep everyone informed.
Make a 'Sister' Ministry Overview Sheet to hand out at your first yearly meeting. Make sure to give it to new ones as they come into the church.
Include the main focus and the mission statement for your group. Include any guidelines that you want your ladies to follow.
Find a sample overview sheet here.
Emphasize participating is a commitment.
Emphasize that being a 'sister' is a commitment. It's sad when someone is assigned to you and you never receive any notes of encouragement from her.
Let the ladies see how important it is to remain committed to the idea of encouraging your 'sister' all through the program year.
Have a plan to deal with incoming new members.
Have a couple ladies, or more depending on your church size, that do not take on a 'sister', but involve them in a ministry to be the 'sisters' to the new church ladies that come into the church throughout the year.
Try prayer partners.
If you need a change, try assigning 'sister' prayer partners that are not a secret, but encourage the partners to pray together so many times a month and share requests through phone calls, notes, and email.
Encourage fellowship among all of the group.
If you are keeping 'secret' sisters, then encourage fellowship among the women in your church apart from their 'secret' sister. Everything needs a balance.
Make sure there are still times that the ladies can interact on an open level so that they may bond as a group that way as well.
Focus outward such as to missionaries.
Focus on missionaries and give each 'sister' a different missionary that your church supports to pray for.
Replace "sisters" with elderly women who need encouragement.
Have an alternative. Instead of 'sisters', assign names of the elderly or nursing home residents to focus on. Things you will do for them will be different from giving gifts. Encourage each lady to pray daily for the person they are assigned.
Encourage participants to get to know their assigned "sister"
Encourage your ladies to get to know everything about their assigned 'sister'. Have your ladies fill out a form with all of their personal information, including favorites, etc. so that their 'sister' can pray for them more effectively and encourage them in a suitable and personal way.
Find an All About Me form here.
Enjoy the program that is decided upon.
Have fun with your 'sister' program. It should be a ministry of encouragement that brings joy to the women of your church.
Encourage the ladies to be creative and get excited about uplifting another 'sister' in Christ.
Copyright ©2003 Julia Bettencourt
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