I believe in the importance of girls ministry now more than ever as my oldest daughter creeps ever closer to her thirteenth birthday. Yes, I understand that parents are the primary disciple makers of their children. I also understand that the church is meant to be a community of believers that join together in that task.
It’s possible for me to take my role as a dad seriously and believe that student ministry plays an important role in the spiritual formation of my kids. I want and need the church to pour into my daughter, and I believe that ministry designed specifically for her (and others like her) can have a lasting impact in ways that I can’t alone.
Here’s why I’m convinced:
Gender-specific ministry is necessary because discipleship isn’t a conveyor belt in a mass-production facility.
It is a personalized process because each person is unique. There are experiences, thoughts, and struggles that girls deal with in these very important years that are different than guys, and a gender specific environment provides the space for these things to be discussed. Yes, it’s true on the other side for guys as well.
A variety of voices are needed for the message to sink in.
Student pastors, you feel this every time you bring in a guest speaker and they say something you’ve been saying for years and your students act like it’s the best thing they’ve ever heard. It leaves you thinking, “Why didn’t they hear it the 46 times I’ve said it.” The thing to celebrate here is that they have finally heard it, and that same “hearing” will happen as you invite other leaders to join you in the discipleship process. When you have Girls ministry in your church, you aren’t creating a student ministry within your student ministry. You are creating an environment where other voices can join yours in reaching the teenagers God has put in your path.
Many student pastors are men, and because of this, bring a male perspective when teaching.
If you’re reading this and you are a man, this may be the first time you’ve considered this reality. This isn’t a knock against you, it is just what happens naturally, and something that we should think about when preparing to teach. It also reinforces the wisdom in gathering a diverse group of leaders to join you in pastoring the teenagers in your ministry. Any time we approach something with a single-minded perspective, we are— many times unintentionally—leaving out large portions of the audience. Additionally, as men, there are conversations that you don’t need to have with the teenage girls in your ministry from a care and safety standpoint.
Girls ministry is possible for you, regardless of your ministry context.
It’s true that over the last fifteen years of student ministry, we’ve seen a rise in the number of churches who have someone on staff dedicated to girls ministry, but if that’s not you, don’t be discouraged.
You have the opportunity to connect women in your church who are passionate about discipling teenage girls to environments and people where that can begin to take place. It’s a necessary component of student ministry that can fit into the natural rhythms of leader recruitment and training that you’ve already developed. Find the person (or people) that God has called to this work, train them, and turn them loose to live out their calling alongside yours in student ministry.
This post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of Lifeway Students. Ben is passionate about investing in student ministry leaders like you. You can find more encouragement from Ben on his YouTube Channel, Student Ministry That Matters.