Help! I'm a Woman in Youth Ministry!: Practical Empowerment for Your Calling and Your Lifeby Kara E. Powell, Megan Hutchinson, Heather Flies
Looking for answers about your life and ministry from a woman’s perspective? Geared for professionals and volunteers alike, Help! I’m a Woman in Youth Ministry! focuses on the unique ministry issues that you wrestle with every day, including: The challenges of singleness, marriage, and parenthood Mentoring and counseling Making your voice heard Fair treatment and fair pay Working with men …and much more! Regardless of age, marital status, church size, or denomination, Help! I’m a Woman in Youth Ministry! will transform how you approach your unique, vital place in the youth ministry world.
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Help! I'm a Woman in Youth Ministry! Practical Empowerment for Your Calling and Your Life
S E C T I O N O N E YOU
What's Paul Got to Do With It? Your Theology about Men and Women
As soon as I read these two words in the Ph.D. catalog, I knew it was the degree for me: practical theology. I had never seen the phrase before, but it immediately resonated with me. Some people joke that 'practical theology' is an oxymoron, just like 'military intelligence' or 'jumbo shrimp.' Instead, I counter that it's a redundancy. Our theology is inherently practical. Every aspect of our lives, from how
A couple of years ago, my husband Adam and I had the unique privilege of going to Israel. Naturally, we visited numerous sites we had read about in Scripture. One site in particular was an eye opener---a first-century synagogue in Capernaum where both Peter and Jesus taught. One of the things that struck me was the architecture.There was an upper galley where the women would sit and talk or gossip with their friends, and a lower level where the men would listen, intent on the message.Why is this? Because the men were educated, the women were not.Women living in the first century did not understand what was being taught, so they chatted with their friends throughout the service. Heck, I would too if I didn't have a clue what they were saying! I think that's why Paul wrote to Timothy that a woman should remain silent in the church.Today we are free to teach the wonderful truths of Scripture for we are now free to speak with the amazing gift of a theological education. Praise God! ---Megan we treat the planet to how we treat other drivers, is shaped by what we think about God.
When it comes to women in ministry, our theology and our practices are intricately connected to one another. So if we're going to have better practices, we need better theology. Whether you're a theological novice or a veteran fluent in the original Greek, it's time to wrestle with the tough questions about women in leadership until you pin down some answers.
Start Local Have you ever looked your senior pastor right in the eyes and asked him or her what they think about women in ministry? Are there any positions of leadership they think women shouldn't hold? If so, why? If not, why not? Make it your goal to listen, ask some questions, and then listen some more.
The Wesleyan Quad John Wesley, the wise nineteenth-century pastor and theologian, taught that there are four ways to experience divine revelation: through Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience (see, I told you he was wise). We now call these four resources the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. When you're talking to folks about theology, try to see what side of the quadrilateral they use the most. Is it the Bible? Church tradition? Their own common sense? Or their own experience? Decide for yourself if any one side of the Quadrilateral is more important than the others, and weigh the evidence accordingly.
It's Greek to Me How much time have you spent studying the key passages about women in leadership? Less time than you've spent shopping for shoes in the last month? If so, then it's time to bust out some books and do your homework.
There are two basic positions. On one extreme, the Complementarian view argues that while men and women are equal, women have different leadership and teaching responsibilities in the church. On the other extreme, the Egalitarian view believes that gender does not influence divine call; God can (and does) call men and women to serve in any and every church leadership position.
No matter what size church you come from, no one person can serve as THE youth pastor to all the students who attend. At our church we tell each small group leader--- male or female---'You are a student's youth pastor, you are their shepherd.' I've learned that regardless of job title, status, or gender, every student needs a pastor in their life to love on them, care for them, and ultimately show them Jesus. --- Megan
Both sides are committed to the authority of Scripture. Both sides have tried to figure out the meaning of the original Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. The Complementarian view usually focuses on four texts, starting with 1 Corinthians 11:2-6, which teaches that the 'head' of the woman is the man. Other primary texts are 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, which says women are to keep silent in the church; 1 Timothy 2:11-15, where keeping silent in the church is defined as refraining from teaching; and Ephesians 5:22-23, where Paul argues for different roles in a marriage.
The Egalitarian view also takes these texts seriously, but it begins from a different starting point. In Genesis 1--2, God makes both male and female in his image. In Genesis 3:16, the subordination of women is not prescribed as ideal, but rather predicted as a consequence of sin. Moving to the New Testament, in Galatians 3:28, Paul teaches that the hierarchies between Jew and Greek, slave and free, and male and female evaporate in light of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11 and Acts 21:8-9, women are allowed to pray and prophesy in the early church. Given these texts, the Egalitarian view argues that the passages often used by the Complementarian view are heavily influenced by the particular culture involved in those epistles. Regulations on women in leadership are the exception, not the norm.
Which of these views is closest to your own? Why? Or do you have a completely different way of looking at it? Whatever you decide, your brain will be grateful for its aerobic workout.
Don't Know Much About History An important principle in understanding scriptural passages about women in leadership is the principle of history. Divine revelation always occurs in the context of a specific culture. The ultimate divine revelation, Jesus himself, modeled this by entering into Palestinian culture and adopting its dress, language, and metaphors. For each city Paul wrote to in his epistles, take some time to understand the culture and their explicit and implicit guidelines for Jewish women. That knowledge just might unlock some of the mysteries that surround women in leadership.
Inside the Boundaries What boundaries do you have for women in leadership? Are you comfortable with---
* Women serving in the background? * Women meeting one on one with other girls or women? * Women being small group leaders? * Women 'sharing' in front of a group? * Women being teachers? * Women being youth pastors? * Women being senior pastors? * Women being czars of the world?
Regardless of your answers, do your best to help women develop WITHIN those boundaries. Develop the best female small group leaders you can. Coach women how to speak to youth or to the entire church. Encourage girls to consider becoming senior pastors. Given the width of your boundaries, what can YOU do to encourage and empower women?
Start a Book Club If you're like me, you learn best when you study alongside others. Invite some others to join you in a theological book club. Photocopy articles or swap relevant books about women in ministry and then meet monthly to discuss them. You might like it so much that you move to other topics and meet indefinitely.
Be Passionate, Not Mad Once you've decided what you believe about women in youth ministry, let others know about it. But speak the truth in LOVE. In God's eyes, how you treat others who disagree with you is probably more important than whether or not you 'win them over to your side.'
Before I got married one of my heroes of the faith, Lori Salierno, said to me, 'Megan, make sure you marry someone who wholeheartedly supports your role as a female in ministry...make sure he is your greatest cheerleader.' A few years later, I met my Adam. Adam is my greatest cheerleader in ministry! In our six years of marriage, Adam has never held me back from my calling to kids.
Meet the Author
Dr. Kara E. Powell is an educator, professor, youth minister, author, and speaker. She is the Executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary (see www.fulleryouthinstitute.org). Kara also serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties and currently volunteers in student ministries at Lake Avenue church in Pasadena, CA. She is the author of many books including Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids (with Chap Clark) and Deep Justice Journeys. Kara lives in Pasadena with her husband, Dave, and their children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica.
Megan Hutchinson is a veteran youth worker who currently serves as a student minister at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. She’s a secret survivor who also coauthored Life Hurts…God Heals, an 8-step recovery program for students with unresolved pain and addiction. In her spare time, Megan and her husband, Adam, can be found at the beach, making sandcastles or surfing with their two boys, Jack and Parker.
Heather Flies is the junior high pastor at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a member of the Youth Specialties CORE training team, and an effective communicator to students, singles, women, and more.
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