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Girls' Ministry 101Ideas for Retreats, Small Groups, and Everyday Life with Teenage Girls
By Whitney Prosperi
ZondervanCopyright © 2006 Whitney Prosperi
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Who, What, and Why of Girls' Ministry
Why Have a Girls' Ministry?
Today's teenage girls deal with complex and pressing issues that their parents wouldn't have dreamed of when they were growing up. Their temptations are serious and, in some cases, life threatening. Their friends are most likely sexually active, and the girls you work with may be as well. They deal with constant pressure to perform, achieve, and be picture-perfect and ultra-thin. Girls are dealing with eating disorders in record numbers. They are often the targets of sexual abuse or harassment. Many struggle with depression, cutting, and substance abuse. If they want drugs, they can get them easily. In short, while girls in the United States have more rights, freedoms, and opportunities than ever before, they also have a growing number of problems that are deeply rooted in being female.
Girls are pressed on every side. Many are forced to deal with adult issues even though they lack the maturity and knowledge to handle them. And while girls who come to church and are involved in youth group have a better chance of escaping many of these pitfalls than some of their unchurched friends, they willstill face undeniable temptations and problems.
Girls' ministry is crucial. Many churches have adults designated as youth ministers, but even when those people happen to be women, it's ideal if churches appoint females to whom the girls can go exclusively. I know from personal experience that if you stand in front of a youth group and tell them a woman is available for the girls to talk with, that woman had better be prepared to listen! I listened-to every imaginable issue, it seemed. Many girls just need to be heard and validated.
Girls crave someone who can relate to them and understand their unique struggles. They desperately need women outside their families and circles of friends who will be objective and give them godly advice.
These are just a few reasons why churches should consider equipping women-whether paid staffers or volunteers-to lead and minister to girls. It's not because we need to create male-only and female-only youth groups, but we need to offer conversational outlets and sources of care and comfort for girls whenever they need them.
Who Should Minister to Girls?
Large churches may have the resources to hire women who can work full-time on the youth staff and be responsible for the girls; other churches may hire part-time female youth ministers. Many churches don't have such resources-but they can still find female volunteers to lead the girls.
Whatever the case, it's important to make sure the girls' minister isn't fresh out of high school. Determining maturity is crucial here. Girls will look to her as a mentor, leader, teacher, and advice-giver. Much prayer should be directed toward deciding who should lead this vital aspect of the student ministry. In most cases, the girls' ministry (and girls' minister) will fall under the leadership and vision of the overall youth ministry. For this reason, it's important that whoever is chosen to lead the girls' ministry is also willing to work in harmony with the leadership of the senior pastor and the youth minister.
When I started as the girls' minister at a church that had never had one before, my boss and the other staff did everything they possibly could to, as they called it, "elevate the position." They wanted to make sure the students knew I'd be working alongside the other youth staff and would be equally as involved in planning and leading. I remember being thankful for their leadership and foresight, as it made my transition easier.
One note: Maybe you have a heart for girls' ministry but feel that you have no platform. You believe you're called to girls' ministry, but it seems no one is willing to give you a chance. I'm often asked the question, "How do I get started so I can minister to girls on a church staff or in another 'official role'?" If you're asking this question, the following encouragement is just for you.
Remember that God is the one who validates your calling. A position or title behind your name doesn't make you better at ministering to girls. The work of God in you and through you is the only thing that can make a lasting impact. Allow God to use you where you are. If there are girls living in your neighborhood or apartment complex, reach out to them. If there are young women at your work or in your family, minister to them. Let God use you right now-right where you are. He has placed you there for this season and his purpose so he can use you (Acts 17:26-27). Will you let him work through you now, instead of waiting for him to give you a bigger platform later? Trust him and take one day at a time. You don't have to push doors open in Jesus' name. Serve where you are and know that he is perfectly capable of expanding your influence in his timing.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Girls' Minister?
If you were to ask this question of youth ministers who are already leading healthy girls' ministries in their churches, they would undoubtedly list the following benefits:
Girls have someone to talk to. As any man knows, females speak the same language. We relate to one another. We understand the delicate emotional seasons of a female's life. Teenage girls are dealing with so many sensitive issues. Given the choice, most girls would feel more comfortable talking with a female youth worker instead of a male. (The male would feel more comfortable as well.) A girls' minister can offer girls genuine love and encouragement that many of them don't get at home or from their friends.
A girls' minister offers a female perspective in planning youth events. When a youth staff plans events and brainstorms ideas, a girls' minister offers a fresh and different perspective. She can help think of activities that would appeal to females as well as males. Having a girls' minister can mean having a more balanced student ministry.
Having a girls' minister provides protection for male leadership. Whenever the male youth minister counsels a girl, the girls' minister can sit in the room with them. After events or meetings, the girls' minister can also wait to leave until all of the females are gone. This protects the males in leadership from ever being in situations where they are alone with young women. She can also be a trustworthy liaison when gender issues arise within the youth ministry.
A girls' minister can plan girl-only events. It's amazing how girls let their guards down when no guys are around. It's so refreshing for them to be together, enjoying themselves and one another without the pressure of how they look or who is watching them. A girls' minister can plan events that range from a simple sleepover to an elaborate retreat or night on the town. Girls love these times with their girlfriends, enjoying something planned especially for them.
Discipleship-a girls' minister can lead all-girl Bible studies and small groups. While Bible study with the whole youth group is beneficial, girls in a smaller group can be transparent in ways they wouldn't be in mixed company. A girls' minister can lead the girls and train other leaders to teach as well. She is in touch with girls' needs and can offer curriculum especially geared for them.
A girls' minister is a role model to the girls. Our culture offers some pretty poor role models for young women. A girls' minister is someone whom girls can look to and pattern their lives after. They can follow her as she follows Christ. She can help girls as they seek after God and the calling and purpose he has for each of their lives and as they learn about developing their spiritual gifts and life skills.
I have heard so many youth ministers say they didn't realize they needed girls' ministries until their churches started them. When they designated women as their girls' ministers, and these women began planning events, the girls responded, brought their friends, and took more ownership in the ministries. The girls even began to assume leadership roles, and many of them took their first steps in the ministries God had especially for them.
In the following chapters, we'll look at some starting places for the "hows" of girls' ministry, and we'll also discuss other practical ideas from girls' ministers all over the country. Some of them serve in small churches, some in large, but they all have one thing in common-they are called to minister to the girls of this generation. As you read, ask God what he wants to do in your ministry. It may be something that resembles an idea you read about here, or it could be completely different. He is an infinitely creative God who knows exactly how to meet the girls in your ministry right where they are.
Excerpted from Girls' Ministry 101 by Whitney Prosperi Copyright © 2006 by Whitney Prosperi. Excerpted by permission.
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