DYM

 

Tag Archives | ymin

5 Conversation Starters from 2013 for Girls (Part 2)

It isn’t always hard to get girls talking but it is important to help direct them to conversations that can lead to life change.

In 2013, there were plenty of viral videos that provide a platform for conversation.

Yesterday, I shared 2 of my favorite. (Part 1)

Here are my remaining 3:

3. Malala on The Daily Show

Questions:

1. What stood out to you about Malala’s story?

2. Why do you think Malala was so passionate about her education?

3. What in your life do you feel that passionate about?

2. Brave (Music Video)

Questions:

1. What was your favorite part of that video?

2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how brave are you?

3. How can we help each other be braver each day?

1. Shrinking Women

Questions:

1. What do you think about this video?

2. Where do you think women learn these type of messages about themselves?

3. How can we change the way we see ourselves and other women?

Those were my top 5 videos from the year (when it comes to getting the conversation started), what about you? What videos did you see this year that helped you communicate and care for the girls in your ministry? Share your ideas!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

0

What She Said (the art of listening to a girl)

Have you ever been in an argument where you noticed that you weren’t really listening to the other side because you were too busy thinking of your rebuttal? Or have you ever had a girl corner you in the youth room…she is crying and you can’t understand a word she is saying, which leaves you thinking of way to make it stop. I know I have. I have also noticed in several of my conversations I am busy forming a solid reason for why a student should do “something”,  that I don’t always even hear what they really are saying. You know…solving their situation so we can move on to the next task.

But, I have found, especially with girls, that you have to really hear what they are saying to understand them. (I mean that in both a literal and figural way)

Generally in youth ministry we need to start by…

1. Make room for LISTENING. Maybe this is just me but if I am not ready to really listen than it won’t matter what technic I use to hear. For example, if I am in the youth room and there are other students around I can’t hear anything but words. I am ADHD in the youth room especially if it is before a program or service. I see people sitting alone or notice someone who hasn’t been in awhile…I am easily distracted. One Christmas party, a student walked into the room right to me and was crying. SHE WAS CRYING AND TALKING at me…and in all honesty all I could think was we are suppose to start the santa relay game right now. Luckily, she said something about her parents that triggered my attention back to her. I asked another volunteer to run the game and took the student out of the room to talk. Finding a quiet place with no people is huge for me when it comes to really listening. Included in finding a good location is forgetting about the other locations and focusing just on this one student in this moment. I need to make room for listening.

Now, more specifically when it comes to listening to girls…

2. Notice the “feeling” statments. Try to get pass the details of the situation and listen for statements that indicate their feelings. Girls (myself included) can get lost in the details of a story- because we assume that if you know the details you will understand the feelings but that just isn’t the case. Don’t be afraid to stop a story and ask the girl what she is feeling. “How do you feel about that?” It might sound funny coming out of your mouth but it helps them focus away from ALL the details to the heart of the issue.

3. Listen for your role. Excuse my overgeneralized gender statements…but sometimes girls just need to vent and they don’t nessecary need a game plan for dealing with the situation. And sometimes guys just need to come up with a game plan instead of listening to all the details! They may need more from you than a safe place to vent BUT listen first to see if they already know the help they need. All they may need from you is a confirmation of a decision or intervention for a friend. Likely, they have come to you because they need you…but don’t assume you know exactly what they need without really hearing them speak.

I am still trying to learn to be a better listener, I have a long way to go… What tips do you use when listening to students, especially girls?

Tags: , , , , ,

0

The Game Nobody Wins

You know the number game, right? The one where we measure our success or failure soley on the number of students that show up to our event or our services.

When we play the number game, when we focus on numbers…nobody wins.

I know that numbers matter. Healthy ministries grow but what happens when numbers become our only means to determine our health. {No one is really willing to admit that numbers are all that matter but when I reflect on events and judge my feelings based on the event I am always surprised by how many times they are tied to numbers.}

But when we focus only on numbers, nobody wins.

Leaders- We don’t win because we fall into traps of shame and pride with each win or lost. We compare and judge others who are doing “worse” or “better” than us.

Ministry isn’t about us…it is about Him.

Students- Our students don’t win because once we counted them – we stopped seeing them and caring for them except for their attendance or their ability to bring more students. We miss the one, the individual. We stop looking into the eyes of our students and REALLY seeing them.

Ministry is about caring for the one. (The Lost Sheep, Coin, Son)

Church-  Our churches lose because students start to think the church is only about attendance and not about BEING the church.

Ministry is about equipping students to be the Body not just attenders.

Go ahead and count your students at your next program but know that the success or the failure of that program isn’t based on the number. What is good and true comes when we rely on Jesus and not on our own ability to care and equip for the students in our churches and in our communities. I realize this is easier said than done, especially in the current culture of church but I am certain that it is the way of Jesus.

Praying that you are freed from the game nobody wins this season.

Tags: , , , , , ,

2

Give them a VOICE

I was honored to participate in a recently released documentary called Rape For Profit.  It was released in the theaters in our area but is now available on iTunes. The filmmakers, two young men who graduated out of our ministry over 7 years ago, invited me to share about the power of encouraging girls to grasp their bigger part in the story. (Jada Pinkett Smith jumped on as one of the executive producers…so that is pretty cool!)

In the trailer, there is a powerful quote about prostitution not being the oldest occupation of women but rather the oldest oppression of women. Wow. That quote stopped me right in my tracks. Oppression.

In many aspects of a girl’s life she is told that she is weak. Not always on purpose but it can be heard in the underlining themes.

In church we talk a lot of about men protecting women. Yes. True. Good.

Can I tell you the best way to protect a woman?

EMPOWER her.

I have met so many girls and women over the years who have been labeled as weak by others but when I sit with them and hear their stories and see what they have overcome…I am blown away by their strength.

The girl who lost a parent and was neglected by her remaining family but never lost sight of her potential. Even now as she works to attend university without the support of those around her.

The girl who rose out of poverty to attend a private university and find her way to the mission field.

The woman who lost her son and turned her grief into a ministry for caring for the brokenhearted.

Girls who would appear victims rising above the pain and the sadness of their lives to be world changers.

How? I think it started when someone told them they had a voice! That their story mattered. That they had purpose. And by doing so protected them from being vulnerable from those who target the broken and weak.

Protect a girl by empowering a girl.

There is a time to be the voice for girls. And there is a time to tell her that she has a voice and to give her a platform to speak.

There is a time to act on her behalf. And there is a time to tell her to act and to live fully in her calling.

Every Sunday or Wednesday you get to communicate a message to the girls in your ministry…you answer a question they are dying to understand. Am I weak? Do I matter? What can I do with my life?

Give them a voice.

Remind them of their potential and of their part in the story.

Provide avenues for them to find their giftedness.

Protect them by empowering them.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

0

Damaged Goods

water

I had a moment in our ministry a few months back and I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. I’ve been trying to think about how to share it. I wish I knew how to change the way girls felt about themselves and the way the church talks about sex but I can’t do it alone…that is where you come in.

Here is what happened:

We were in our final week on sex and I spoke on what happens when you have gone too far. I challenged two lies that we believe about ourselves and going “too far.” The first one is that we are damaged goods, I apologized for any words that our students heard in church about being a used flower or a cup of water filled with spit…having sex doesn’t make you those things. God’s grace and love covers us…completely. I also briefly addressed those who were sexually abused…again, just briefly.

After my message we allowed students to text in questions. In EVERY service, at least one student texted in a question about whether or not God saw them as a virgin if they were sexually assaulted. Even typing this breaks my heart, how much have we focused on virginity that these girls (and possibly boys) who were victims of abuse are still worrying about how God sees them and if he is upset with them for losing their virginity? In that moment, I paused and told the students if this is you than you need to hear me loud and clear…Jesus doesn’t see any of us as virgins…He sees us as HIS beloved children. The end. Period. That is it. We paused and prayed. I wish who ever wrote those questions would have found me after the service, but they didn’t. 

May this be a warning to us. When we talk about sex, virginity and God’s best for us…our students are listening and they are processing every word we say and they are looking for grace and hope.

Grace for the things we have chosen for ourselves.

Hope despite the things that have been done to us.

1 in 3 girls is a victim of sexual abuse before they are 18.

1 in 6 boys is a victim of sexual abuse before they are 18. {Taken from Parents for Megan’s Law}

We’ve made great progress in the conversation about sex, I am praying that we continue to make even more. May our youth ministries be places of grace and hope, where every student knows exactly how God sees them…as a son…and as a daughter.

Will you join me in a new conversation about virginity?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

0

“Stop being such a girl!”

aimee002

“Stop being a girl!” I’ve heard this phrase come out of the mouths of teachers, coaches, parents, youth workers…and even out of my own mouth. I could do a whole series on this statement but I’ll resist the urge to point out all the things wrong with it..and instead just focus on one thought.

This thought is about our student leaders, specifically our girl leaders. Are we allowing for girls to be fully girls as they lead in our ministry? Or are we asking them to “turn off” their feminine side in order to lead?

Here is what I have seen in my own life and in a lot of different ministries:

First, in my life, when I was a teenager I realized that I had some leadership skills. All the people I looked up to in leadership were men. In my young 16 year old brain, I came to this conclusion that if I was going to be a good leader that I needed to be like them…which meant that I couldn’t be emotional, talk like a girl  or wear pink. I needed to “stop being such a girl.”

Secondly, I have seen countless girls over the years do the exact same thing. Turn off their feminine side in order to step into leadership roles. Now, more than ever, I know what a major bummer that is for girls and for churches. One, we are created in the image of God and our uniqueness as girls is from Him. Second, these feminine qualities are missing in our churches and they are essential for fully caring for each other and for the world.

Here are two things we can do to help girls be fully themselves:

1. Affirm “girly” qualities. Being sensitive is a good thing. Being multi-taskers is a good thing. Being emotional about the right thing is a good thing. Being upset about injustice is a good thing. Being concerned about relationships is a good thing. Despite if in the past we may have seen all of these things as negatives- when these traits are directed towards the Body of Christ – they are are amazing assets to our ministries. When you see a girl using these “gifts” for good, call it out. Affirm the good in them…remind them that these things are part of God’s image in them.

2. Affirm girl leaders. I suppose I may be jumping ahead of myself but in order to affirm girl leaders you need to have girl leaders. So, first get some girl volunteers. Give these volunteers opportunities to lead in various ways. Leading games, speaking, leading small groups or planning events. And when they do, verbally affirm these women in front of your whole youth ministry. By doing this you provide visible examples of what it means to lead like a girl.

Wouldn’t it be great if at our churches instead of hearing the same whole thing, “stop being such a girl”- they would hear, “be a girl!” I hope more youth ministries would start celebrating what it means to be a girl.

How do you celebrate the girls in your ministry?

PS- I’ve heard some ladies say that they don’t like to be called a girl. It doesn’t really bother me…but maybe that’s because I am learning to love being a girl and see my “girl-ness” as a gift.  If everyone could feel that, maybe it wouldn’t be bother them either.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1

5 Lies Girls Believe- The Final Part

Thank you for joining me on this journey into girl’s world and discovering the lies they struggle to overcome. You made it to the 5th and final part in this series. {Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

Before we dig into this final lie, I want to say that I am where I am today in ministry because of the youth workers in my life. Those youth workers were all men. Men who believed in me and spoke of my potential. I know firsthand the power and the influence you have in lives of the girls in your ministry. Your voice matters and the more you are aware about their life, the more you can speak to the heart of the issues. I hope that this series as helped you.

That said, let’s finish this series.

Lie #5- There is no place for me at church

rewrite-300x300

There is an unfortunate trend among twenty something women in church, as we are currently seeing a large exodus of them. In 2011, Barna released a study that showed women were leaving church at a faster rate than men (this was a first). Over the past 20 years, the number of women volunteering in church dropped 31 percent. Women are leaving because they believe there is no place for them in the church.

Two years ago, I was watching an episode of GLEE and was surprised by a statement said about church. When one character was asked by friends to go to church, he said “why would I want to go to church, they have never been kind to WOMEN or gay people.” The sentenced surprised me because while I expected them (the producers of GLEE) to make a statement about the church’s response to the LGBTQ community, what I didn’t expect was for them to  make a statement that clearly supports what the Barna research study showed. This confirmed to me that this feeling of not belonging in the church is felt by both female believers and non-believers.

And unfortunately, I’ve heard youth workers say  things that imply that attracting girls is a secondary concern. “Get the boys and the girls will come too.” We may think that girls don’t grasp that unspoken mentality but they do. They deeply believe there is no place for them at church.

How do we help shift the trends of women leaving the church?

Be Intentional With Your Care- Stay aware of what is happening in girl world and follow up in ways that show you care. Allow for them to express their emotions and be responsive even when you don’t understand it.

Be Intentional With Your Programming- Think through your program, is it inclusive? Are the videos, games and other creative elements both girl and guy friendly. Consider during your message speaking directly to girls…this communicates that you are giving specific thought to how they might respond.

Be Intentional With Your Opportunities- Many of women in Barna’s research showed that they felt that the opportunities were limited to them as a women. This isn’t a theology conversation. It is not about titles, it is about providing places for girls with various skills and gifts to be able to use them at church. Be creative. Let them lead where they can in your setting.

When we are intentional with the girls in our ministry, they realize that there is a place for them in our churches. They won’t want to leave and in fact, they probably will be our greatest “bringers.”

How do you let the girls in your church know they belong?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

0

Fresh Start for Everyone

The start of school is a fresh start for our students. New clothes, new school supplies and another chance to start over at school. I happen to think it is a great time for us, youth workers to try some new things too.

Each Fall, I seem to start to get into a similar ebb and flow…a routine. It can be easy to get in a rut. I posted a list of reminders for myself- things I wanted to be about EVEN when the “routine” takes over my days.

photo-4

I chose daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly reminders or goals. These goals are about being intentional as a shepherd, staying creative, cultivating relationships and about growing as a leader.

Daily- Praying and caring for students – this year I am focusing on praying for 5 high schools that surround our church.

Weekly- Encouraging leaders and students with written notes – 5 students//5 leaders

Monthly- Celebrating our leaders at our midweek gathering, trying something new in our Sunday programming, read a new ministry book (What are you reading right now?)

Quarterly- Intentional hang time with interns- focusing on the females on the team, review and evaluate our Sunday programming

photo-5

I’ve hung them above my computer, that way I see them every day and I am reminded of the things that are important in the middle of the chaos.

What are you trying new right now? How do you keep growing in the midst of the craziness of youth ministry? What are specific ways that you remind yourself of your goals?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

0

5 Lies Girls Believe- Part 4

We’re digging into the 5 most common lies that teenage girls believe. To find the other lies- click part 1, part 2 and part 3. When girls believe these lies they live life according to what they hold as truth.

This lie is practical. And sometimes we, as youth workers, forget how important it is for us to speak to the practical.

Lie #4- I am safe online

predator

I think most teens “know” of the dangers online but the majority seem to believe that these dangerous things will never happen to them.  No one believes they are the negative statistic. So, teenagers make themselves more and more vulnerable online.

1 in 3 girls are victim to online cyberthreats or bullying.

1 in 5 teens have been solicited for sex last year (Only 25 percent of the youth who were approached told a parent).

1 in 8 youth ages 8-18 discovered that someone they were communicating with online was an adult pretending to be much younger

47% of teens post pictures online for others to see without any privacy settings. (This is an older statistic- before Instagram)

1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras

About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others

bullying

When you have a young girl struggling with the lies about who she is and what defines her and than you add in the online dangers, what you have is constant vulnerability. Vulnerable girls with access to danger at their fingertips.

In your youth ministry and in my youth ministry are girls who are part of these stats. We have girls being bullied online and we have girls who are having inappropriate relationships online with dangerous people.

As youth workers, what is our role in this conversation?

1. Stay informed.  Know what the trends are online in your area. Ask your students, they are more then willing to give you an education. In our area, there was a rise in our students creating these “ask me” pages. These pages are huge avenues for bullying. Being informed help me take the next steps to care for the girls in my church.

askne

2. Keep Parents Informed. When a new trend comes along online, tell your parents. The more they know, the better they can care for their kids. Communication strengthens our partnership with parents.

3. Intervene When Necessary. If you see or hear about a student making decisions online that are making them vulnerable, then it is time to intervene. Connect with the student or if needed with a student and a parent. The internet is just too dangerous for us to not take action.

Two years back there was a young girl in our ministry who started corresponding with man online. It went on for awhile until her older brother find out and went to her parents. One year after her parents found out, she was back online posting pictures on Instagram to over 1000 “friends”. Friends whose name alone on Instgram communicated that they were not safe people. Because we knew her history and we stayed informed in her life, we got to intervene through a partnership with her parents. Fortunately, she is making way better decisions online now and is actively serving in our ministry. She shared her story in our ministry a few months back.

This is why as youth workers we sometimes have to dive into conversations that don’t seem to be super spiritual. We are shepherds. We are to care for our flock…and to help protect them from danger. The internet is a dangerous place for insecure and struggling girls. Let’s walk with them in life…on and offline.

What are the online trends of your students? Do your students think they are safe online?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

1

5 Lies Girls Believe – Part 3

When we believe something to be true about ourselves it determines how we live each day. What we see around us can either inspire us or incapacitate us. In this blog series, we are looking at the top 5 lies that girls believe about themselves and the world they live in. {Part 1, Part2}

Lie #3- My Value Is Earned By The Opposite Sex

sex

If our bodies define us than the attention we get for our bodies becomes the way we earn our value.

Girls have been told and shown that their value is determined by those of the opposite sex or even just by the attention they can gather from them. Not to bring up the Miley incident again because who hasn’t talked about it yet…but we can assume based on that incident that even Miley believes that by making herself more sexy or attractive to the opposite sex, she creates more value for herself and her work.

A good portion of the confusion about relationships and sex can be found in the media. A few years back the American Psychological Association released research about media and the results were astounding.

The incident-to-scene ratio for sexualization was almost equal, totaling 1.18 incidents per scene for underage girls versus 1.29 incidents per scene for adult females.

Based upon a definition established by the APA of “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” sexuality, the study findings show that 93% of the sexualizing incidents among underage female characters occurred within a context that qualified to be categorized as ”unhealthy.” 

Media tells us that sex validates us…even unhealthy sexual activity.

What happens when girls believe that their worth is defined by the opposite sex?

We see girls who seek out attention from the opposite sex,  we see them develop poor ideas about relationships and  sexually aggressive behavior becomes normalized.

Unfortunately, we (youth ministries) have reinforced some of these ideas without really intending to do it.

Here are two ways that we need to rethink our conversation with students:

1. The Modesty Conversation

48484133458391159_5AHFuOe1_f

Don’t throw stones at me but we have made WAY too big of a deal of modesty. It seems every week a blog goes viral on the topic of modesty.

Is modesty important? Yes, but I fear that it has become our primary spiritual indicator for girls. And by doing so, we’ve reinforced the negative message that implies that a girl’s value, both spiritually and physically, is the way her body causes others to respond to her. Which hurts her and those around her.

Plus, the statement “Modest is Hottest” is silly. Why is the end goal for girls still to be the hottest? It really does come back to their body.

2. The True Love Waits Conversation

cosmo

I believe that the church has come a long way in the conversation around virginity but I think we still have a way to go.

We have convinced teenage girls that the best gift they have to offer is their physical purity. We have turned sex into God’s greatest gift given to us. (Don’t get me wrong…it is a great gift but not the greatest.) All this does is confirm again for girls that their physical body and the way the opposite sex responds to them is where their worth can be found.  This makes finding someone to give this gift to the highest goal for a girls’ life. How incredibly short have we sold the faith journey to them?

So, what conversation should we be having?

Every day, every week, every month…We should be reminding our girls that their worth comes from God. He has called them daughters, worthy of his love, grace and He has created them for good things. When a girl believes that truth is it one of my favorite moments in ministry! “To deny our worth is to make God a liar.” – Barrs 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

1

5 Lies Girls Believe – Part 1

Here’s a bold statement: Every day girls are being told lies about who they are and every day girls are believing these lies. 

These lies that girls believe determine the way they live.

Over the next few post, I want to take a closer look at the top 5 lies that girls believe about themselves and the world they live in.

images

Lie #1 - My Body Defines Me

Spend a few minutes watching TV shows that target teen girls or pick up a teen magazine and you’ll be overwhelmed by the messages coming at young girls about their bodies.

leigton-meester-seventeen_a

(Don’t even get me started on this cover and what is wrong with it!)

Studies show that girls get depressed within 3 minutes of looking at a “fashion” magazine.

92% of girls want to change at least one thing about their bodies.

photo-3

(This was painted on a fence in my neighborhood. Seriously, everywhere they go…there are messages about their bodies.)

The University of Colorado did a study of teenage girls and found that most feared “being fat” more than cancer, nuclear war or the death of their parents.

Why the fear?

As far as the the world is concerned, a girl is her body. Talented and brilliant women are defined by their weight and appearance…Adele, Christina Aguilera, Condoleezza Rice…to name just a few.

The standards are unrealistic and unattainable without the help of computer touch-ups. It is impossible to feel like you will ever measure up.

If my body defines me…and my body will never measure up…than I will NEVER measure up. The lies we believe define the way we live. If girls believe this lie it can lead to “self-harm” behaviors or the pursuit of approval for their bodies in inappropriate ways.

What can we do? How can we be different?

1. Tell the truth

If the world’s lie is that their body defines them- we tell the truth- that they are so MUCH more than just a body. That who they are is really about what is in their heart, soul and minds. We counter the lie. We acknowledge the lie…and we tell the truth. Once a year, we try and do a girl only service or event where we can address these lies…we spend a majority of our time on this topic.

2. Be aware of your words

We need to be mindful of the way we casually throw words around in front of our students. Words like fat, hot, skinny or ugly can be painful reminders to girls that they don’t measure up. Let me be clear…most girls…even the most petite ones, view themselves as fat and ugly. Be careful how you use your words.

3. Redefine Beautiful

I think churches, especially youth ministries, should redefine beautiful. Let’s start talking about the beauty of a servant’s heart or a friendly smile. The words we use to define it MUST BE ATTAINABLE for everyone. Make it attainable and them help them attain it!

4. Include parents in the conversation

Girls need to hear the truth in their homes. Most parents want to help but they may not realize the full pressure girls are facing each day. We can help girls by including their parents. Help them understand by providing resources for them. Create opportunities for them to have important conversations.

Every interaction with girls is another chance for us to counter the lie that their body defines who they are by speaking the truth in love. What about you…what are others ways you have helped girls overcome lie #1?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4

Book Review: Chivalry

51eQ4sIZQnL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Years ago at the Student Leadership Conference, I met a teenage boy by the name of Zach Hunter. He was on tour promoting his Loose Change for Loose Chains campaign at the same time he was a spokesperson for the movie Amazing Grace. At 16, he was articulate and passionate about injustice.

When I saw his new book Chivalry, I was a bit taken back by the title until I read the subtitle which states, “The quest for a personal code of honor in an unjust world.”  This book isn’t just for guys and it is made really clear in the opening pages of the book. From the very beginning Zach invites students into a bigger conversation about what it means to be people who love and people who choose honor, mercy and selflessness instead of the world’s ways.

This book would be great in the hands of any high school student. Zach is able as a young person to identify with the struggles and desires of teens. While he is relatable, he is also challenging students to a different level of growth. Each chapter is a commitment to a code of chivalry. These range from commitments to community to the commitment to practice self-control and selflessness. Each chapter is filled with passages from God’s word that reinforce the code.

Another bonus, is that he points to students to other voices of faith. He quotes from C.S. Lewis, Cornel West, Annie Dillard, John M. Perkins…the list goes on. I love students being exposed to such a wide range of Christians.

I am planning on giving my copy to a student this week! Check it out here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

0

Guys Only: What Girls Need to Hear (Part 3)

“I get it.” {Part 1}

“You belong.” {Part 2}

Above are the first two things that every girl needs to hear from the male youth workers in their lives. But we’re only half way there.

Everyone loves a good story. A good story inspires you by allowing you to see yourself in the hero(es). A lot of the stories now told to teenage girls are based in fantasy and include vampires/werewolves. Even worse are the real life stories of Disney stars gone wild.  Both of these kinds of stories can seem pretty hopeless.

church

In our churches we need to tell better stories. When we share stories of other females who have gone before the girls in our ministry, we inspire, but more than that, we communicate the third truth that every girl needs to hear:

 “You are not alone” 

We’ve told the girls in our ministry they belong by giving them a voice and including them in the programming but that is about the present. What is in their future…or what impact can they have on others…are they alone in their pursuit of faith?

There are so many stories you can tell to point girls in the right direction- here are four places to look for better stories:

The women who have impacted your life

Tell a story of a female teacher or a youth worker who changed your life. Watch the girls’ eyes light up as they hear you talk about a significant woman in your life who isn’t your mother or wife. The thought that someone like them…could impact someone like you..is hugely inspiring.

The women of your church who inspire

In our church, we have a group of women who decided that they could do something about human trafficking. These women were single, married, young, old, from broken families and broken pasts. Not only did these women become role models to our girls, but they showed these girls a picture of what they could become no matter what their circumstances were.

Who are women in your church who are living a story that could inspire the each of the girls in your ministry? Tell their stories or invite them to come share their stories. (The girls will be inspired…and you just might recruit a new volunteer.)

The women in past in who have shaped the Church

Evangeline Booth, Aimee Simpleton McPherson, Mother Teresa or Florence Nightingale are just a few of the women who have impacted and shaped the Church. Women who gave their lives for the Gospel and for living out the Great Commission. When you tell their stories, the girls in your ministry will see that the Church is a PLACE for them and that they are not alone in their calling and their gifts.

The women of the Bible

The Bible is filled with stories of women…the good, the bad and the radical. Look at your calendar, how many weeks of the year did you spend talking about men from the Bible? Paul, David, Moses, Peter, Abraham…the list goes on and on. Obviously, all of these heroes are hugely important, and our students need to learn about their lives. But let’s be careful not to overlook the heroines  of the Bible. Otherwise our girls will be left wondering if they really have a place in the gospel story at all. Try bringing the story of Mary to life for your girls. A young teen girl who changed the world by obeying. Or the story of Rahab, a woman who didn’t let her past keep her from following God. Or the story of Abigail, a woman known for her intelligence and ability to bring peace. This list goes on and on. Tell their stories and inspire your girls when they see themselves in the pages of Scriptures.

Each week we get to tell a better story. A story that allows for the girls in our ministries to see that they are not alone. That there are others like them both in the past and in the present who have said yes to God’s story. These stories encourage and will move them to action.

Will you join me in sharing them?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2

Guys Only – What Girls Need to Hear From You (Part 1)

I am guessing there are girls in your youth ministry. Maybe just a few girls or quite possibly your ministry is predominately all girls. While at the same time the truth remains that you are not a girl. (Well, unless you are a girl reading this post for guys only…which is totally acceptable!)  And, girls and guys see and experience the world differently. This requires us to be intentional in our ministry approaches to those who are different than us.

Girls need you to understand their world.

prom

They need you to counter the lies that they believe about themselves and replace it with the truth of who they are in God’s story.

There are 4 messages that girls can’t hear enough from the men in their lives.

The first message girls need to hear from you is:

“I get it” 

This starts with a willingness to engage in their world. You have to be willing to admit that you don’t see or feel the world the same way they do and you must make attempts to understand girl world.

How do you do this?

Ask Good Questions. Let girls tell you what it is like being a girl in your town. What are their biggest pressures? What kind of expectations are they experiencing at school? How do they feel about the conversation around body image? What do they think about their place in God’s story? Don’t forget follow up questions, really try to dive into their thoughts and feelings. You can also ask your female volunteers…just be sure to ask questions!                    

Don’t Minimize Their Experience. As you dive into girl world, you may find some things silly or frivolous but to a teen girl they are anything but silly. Don’t minimize what they feel because you don’t feel it yourself. Sometimes we can make light of topics such as weight or the way girls interact with each other but these are not light topics. We can’t minimize their feelings instead we need to their validate their feelings WHILE helping them towards healthier and holier responses.

“I get it”

As part of your messages consider acknowledging their pressures and give voice to their potential feelings. Each point or action step in your message can include a specific challenge for both guys and girls based on what is happening in their worlds. So simple but  such a powerful way to communicate clearly that you get it.

How else do you think you communicate to girls that you understand their world…that you get it?

(Total side note: Thank you for being willing to speak into the lives of the teenage girls in your ministry and life! They desperately need to hear from you! I hope you will join us on this journey of discovering the 4 messages that girls need to hear from you!)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

0

Are We Being The Example?

example

I am really excited for this next school year. One of the focuses we are going to trying to relay to our students is how they can reach out to their friends who are far away from Jesus. As I have been reading a ton of different books, curriculums, and anything that has to do with this topic on how to best portray it to our students, I had this one thought that will not leave me alone. It is as if as I have been thinking about how we teach our students do these things, the Holy Spirit tugged on my heart with this question:

Who is in your life that you are reaching out to? Are your students seeing how this needs to be done by you?

Whoa. Ouch. It is a question I think all of us in ministry need to wrestle with. Think about it. How many times do we stand up in front of our groups, write in our curriculum, explain to our students how important it is to have real, authentic relationships with non-believers and be a light in their lives and try to help direct them to God and we ourselves are not doing a great job (or not doing anything at all)? It really got me thinking about whom in my life I can be reaching out to more. Who can I be more intentional with? Who in my life can benefit in a huge way if they started to live for Jesus?

Then it got me thinking about how much more beneficial it is for our students to see their leaders actually doing what it is we are asking them to do with their friends. How much more effective will it be when we can tell our own stories about how we were their for a friend and helped them step closer to Jesus? How great would it be if we were to show our students how it is done and be a physical example to them of what Jesus can do through us and for us? What would it look like if we surrounded ourselves with people who do know Jesus and we were intentional on bringing to church with us?

I know in ministry it can be really easy to surround yourself with people who are already saved. You go to lunch with them, you are in a group with them. All the people you work with are already saved (we assume). It is really easy for us to not have people in our lives we are not reaching out to besides the ones we preach to on Sunday’s, but there is no real, intentional relationship there.

So I have to ask. Who is in your life that you have a relationship with, friendship with, an acquaintance with who is far from Jesus? Who can we be reaching out to while at the same time being an example to our students because we are telling them to do the same thing?

Tags: , , , , ,

4