1 Corinthians 12:27 All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it.
Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
However, I do believe the church should hold within it five roles and structure as laid out in Ephesians 4:11
Ephesians 4:11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
So what have I created? Well, first, I haven’t created anything – Jesus, through Holy Spirit has. If I were to place a label on it (doesn’t the human mind love to categorize things?), I would consider it something like a para-ministry. And what is a para-ministry? I’m glad you asked:
A Parachurch ministry is a ministry that operates outside of the confines of a traditional church. While many of these organizations have some type of connection to a church, those taking part in the ministry look at ways that they can give back to the local community and others in need in ways that a church cannot. Reference
This ministry began as a blog in September 2014. You can take a trip down memory lane if you like, by visiting HERE.
It wasn’t until 2016 another direction began to emerge from the blog and I sensed the Lord speaking to my heart about sharing what He was sharing with me with other women. Up to that point, I had been asked by other women to lead a challenge and have an online group, one for encouragement and support. Before I knew it a group of twenty women were joined together for one purpose, and without any self-promotion (also important to me). Even then, I drug my feet. In August 2016, I had reached out to the church leadership at the time, for prayer for direction. A word was spoken I still hold dear to my heart. Prior to going any further in the composing and editing phase, I asked my pastor, with my family surrounding me, what his thoughts were on publishing the book. "Go for it". Ok. My sense coming away from the conversation was that anything I could do would be blessed, because we need to move when God asks us to. I did.
Why was I timid? I had been burned (self-inflicted) before (this has been a ten year journey my friends) and I needed to KNOW God was the One moving me, or my relationship with Jesus, my marriage, children and other relationships were going to suffer.
In 2017, so many things shaped up. While I didn’t host any challenges, Rise Up Devotions was published, along with Courageous Humility and Rise & Pray. “Anything I can do is blessed”. In October 2017, when I sensed God wanted me to minister in person with other women, I really struggled. What would this look like? Who did I think I was? Am I “allowed”? All these questions came to mind.
I sought the council of my closest friends. I sought the council of the Pastor at Times Square Church, as I believed him to be the pastor of my family’s home fellowship. I sought spiritual leadership from a spiritual mother. I sought the Lord in prayer and through multiple requests for confirmation. "Yes". When we visited a new church in our community, the minister spoke about Rahab the Harlot. If He could move through her, He can surely move through me.
Rahab wasn’t educated, trained, or indoctrinated. No. She only had the testimony of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites and would soon have her own. "Shanon, you have my blessing – GO".
When the curriculum was created for the Rise Up Commitment in late 2017, I asked my “spiritual mother” to review and provide feedback. She read, reviewed, and blessed the content. I believed, again, this was blessing and confirmation to move forward.
Even as I moved forward, I was always very upfront with gals, “I did not go to seminary. I am just a woman who loves the Lord and His Word, who wants to see others connect with His Word in the same life altering way I have”. My position? I am learning right along with you in many regards. We can trust Holy Spirit to be our Advocate and make truth known.
With the first commitment going well, I still longed for a covering and continued blessing for what was being done. I was concerned with operating outside of an unsanctioned covering. My spiritual leader was unavailable. The home fellowship pastor was impossible to connect with. Finally, God placed two gals on my heart to connect with. One? An associate pastor, now pastor. The other? One who had once been a mission’s pastor and embarking on a new journey with God. When I spoke with both of them, I simply shared I wanted to be accountable to others and have a covering, and that God shared both of them with me to reach out to. I believe they could sense my willingness to submit as the Lord needed.
My husband and children continued to bless my involvement with the ministry (although they might admit it's not always the easiest to share). My closest friends committed to prayer and correction when needed. My spiritual leader prayed and led when she was available. Gals agreed to cover. God had brought them all to my mind, and I knew I was to submit to them and prayerfully receive any guidance or correction God may lay on their hearts to share.
Para-ministry, that still seems to be the word fitting the best. What God does here is in addition to, a supplement if you will, to the local church and bodies each gal is connected with. Coming alongside women on their journey, with discipleship and growing together, in conjunction with their pastoral care. Many times when meeting on a weekly basis, the gals express to me their pastor spoke something very similar to what we had discussed. Thank you for confirming, Lord.
My focus on women only, is also a good indication this is not a church (in the traditional sense). God has never placed it on my heart to minister to men. His heart for this ministry? Minister to my Sisters in Christ (and soon to be Sisters) well, and they will minister to their husbands and children well, as Christ leads. I’m only a conduit. A conduit who may not hold pastoral accountability, but certainly feels accountable for every Word He places on my heart to share.
My goal is not to have anyone follow me, or rely on me. I’m like Chevy Chase in the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation scene where he is connecting the two extension cords hoping to light his house up – I want to facilitate a direct connection to, and hunger for, God’s Word and Holy Spirit so each gal learns to rely on Him as they grow increasingly more sensitive to His Spirit in their lives. Why? So they will RISE UP each day in their homes, communities, church homes, and places of employment as God empowers them to do so.
That’s it. That’s my hope and prayer.
The avenue to doing so is by meeting women where they are on their faith journey to becoming whole in spirit, soul and body, and then to teach, encourage and facilitate some degree of healing as His Word and Spirit leads me to do so, through the gifts He has blessed me with. This avenue has transitioned from an online platform to in-person, which is something many yearn for in this hyper connected era.
My prayer is also to continue to respond to His leading in all things... prayer, guidance, next steps - ALL THINGS - and be open to going wherever He may lead next. I hope that is your prayer as well.
Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have. And as always, I am happy to meet you where you are and join you over a cup of coffee or via a message, prayer or chat.