This isn’t a really long post. It isn’t a ground breaking post. It is simply two words that my soul cries out. Two words that somehow find their way as a prayer —coming from my heart tonight to you…to me..to all of us that find our calling from God to disciple girls:
“It’s been a long road. I’m tired right now. Someone else should be coming behind me to finish this. ”
“But the girls I lead aren’t coming anymore. They don’t care about the time and effort I put into our time each week. They probably want someone younger than me.”
“But I’m tired. I don’t have the creative juices flowing like they used to. Jane seems to have more hustle than I do. Have you seen the girls ministry activities she is doing? Have you seen the blog, the podcast, the….I just can’t keep up. I’m not Jane. I’m just me.”
“My soul is worn out. I haven’t spent time with God like I should. I can’t remember the last time I really got to truly sit in His presence.”
“I messed up. There’s no way God would be able to use me to disciple someone. I can’t even get my act together.”
Jesus, I don’t know who will read this post but I am praying for those who read this and are wanting to quit. Thank you that you don’t quit on us. Thank you that you call us and want to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. Sometimes we just are too tired to ask. Sometimes we are just to wounded to imagine. Jesus, give us new dreams…new visions. Jesus, give us your strength to do what you have called us to do. We throw in the towel way too soon sometimes. We listen to what Satan would have us believe about ourselves…about You…and they are lies. We miss out on getting to see the harvest because we quit. Jesus remind us to keep walking…keep doing good…keep walking in the direction of what you have called us to do…and don’t let us quit.
Galatians 6:9 So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
As all of us have scrambled as the Church has been scattered to gather online, we have been trying to establish new patterns, rules, and habits as we start using things like Zoom instead of what used to be actual rooms.
I created some infographic tutorials for our student ministry and have had several ask if they could use them and contextualize them for their ministries. So I have just templated them for your use. Hope that you can use them to help in these days.
One of the ways to develop a girls understanding of her purpose is to have her serve in a leadership position within the student ministry. For the past 15 years, we have created a girls ministry lead team. The team consisted of girls from high school and adult female leaders.
We will have a vision casting for the girls retreat where I will share the direction of the weekend retreat. Then through various brain storming, prayer times, and team meetings, the girls will be responsible to come up with the entire worship production, the bible studies, the fellowship activities, and 1 prayer experience.
It has been a blessing to watch girls come awake to their giftings and also recognize the giftings of other individuals. Is it easy to release the retreat to teenaged girls? No. There are times when I could get the retreat done so much quicker, but I have seen God do some amazing things through allowing these girls and leaders to work together to put together the retreat. They come up with ideas I wouldn’t have thought of.
Sometimes, I have to release the ideas I would have wanted them to do, because it’s not all about me. There are times I would have been more apt to put a retreat together in my own power, but through sharing the responsibility with these girls and leaders, we are equipping them for the leadership NOW and seeing how God will move when I release the task to Him.
Creating clear boundaries and a compass for them to follow:
Now there are some clear boundaries. The first meeting it is clear what they cannot change and what they can change. It is clear what are preferences that they can tweak and what they cannot tweak. And then when we make the teams, we make sure there are various girls from different personalities and different grades.
We also use the main event compass to help guide their dreams. I always tell the leaders, use this compass to help make or break the dreams. Girls need to begin how to implement what they are dreaming up and then see it come alive at the event. Below is the main event compass that we equip our leaders to use as they facilitate a team of girls on the lead team.
The “WHY” at the center of the compass is a key question. When we are picking worship songs, or sharing testimonies…how does this answer why we are doing this? Making sure that you have scripture as your foundation for your theme, ultimately helps to answer the why.
Here are the 7 proven ways we empowered our girls to lead at this year’s retreat:
So what happened as we empowered girls to lead at our retreat? They planned fellowships that brought girls intentionally together to create memories. They created unique food experiences that enhanced moments girls were getting connected. They selected bible study curriculum that had girls digging into tough questions about friendships and God’s purpose of friendships. These poured over into the worship services that were stitched together to reiterate what they were studying in small groups. Here are 7 specific plans they came up with and implemented:
1. a community graded reflection time after the end of the event. As a result, our leaders grouped up as well and we got a chance to hear what God had done in their small group times and personal lives.
2. A popcorn bar that accompanied a lip dub contest that had every cabin put together a routine during their free time to perform for our late night activity. Every group received a paper plate award so it was super fun.
3. A prayer experience that had girls praying for each other and eventually praying as an entire group. Very special time.
4. An 80’s ZUMBA for our recreation…girls all got a scrunchie. (see this is one I wouldn’t have even thought to do. Who knew scrunchies were back? ) But look how fun this was:
5. We had a nacho bar that was brilliantly executed with a series of crockpots and plastic bags in the crockpots so we didn’t have to clean up nacho cheese! And the girls played a giant game of TWISTER….all this to help support our theme of UNITE.
6. We did an amazing “stand up for a sister” which was a live poll where we got to see anonymous answers as to some specific questions before we started. It was eye opening.
7. We brought in a special speaker in the morning to help girls discover their spiritual gifts and see how God had wired them.
And to see the girls LEAD out on these things is always a gift. So PLEASE in your ministry with girls…give them a SPACE to lead. They have to lead now…and as you walk alongside of them, you may be amazed that God awakens within them a calling to be the next girls minister. Hebrews 13:7 says: Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Don’t forget that younger girls need to see older girls as those leaders. So give them space to be those kind of leaders and you will see them leading in ways that are immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine.
I am the Fleet Commander. I started out being the Bus Captain, but now there are more than a couple of buses so I gave myself a promotion. When I greet the bus drivers that are taking our students to various trips, I now let them know that I am The Fleet Commander. 🙂 In all seriousness, there are some things we’ve learned over the years from taking one to two buses, to over 12 buses on extended road trips.
1. You must have a bus manifest.
This is just a good rule of thumb on many levels. A bus manifest helps with quick roll call. In addition, for safety in an unexpected traffic incident, you need to be able to account for all persons.
2. Carry water on each bus to be used in emergency situations.
You should carry water on the bus in case of prolonged traffic issues where you are delayed on the road for hours. We have found ourselves on the highway in bumper to bumper traffic due to accidents. You never know when you need to supply students with water on the road. This is a great way to just be prepared for emergency situations.
3. Make friends with the bus drivers.
Over the years, I’ve learned that if you make friends with the drivers, it makes the journey so much better for everyone. I have taken it to a whole next level by wearing socks that say, “BOSS LADY”. It’s my first day event uniform. The drivers know that I’m the girl who is leading the buses and it makes it easy to initiate conversation with them. Also, it’s a great reminder to remember that not all bus drivers know Jesus. As they transport your student ministry, they are listening and watching what it looks like to be around Christ Followers. Make sure that they are included in your mission field scope.
4. Move around the bus
Don’t just keep your eyes on the road. Make regular trips to the back of the bus and look for students that are sitting alone. Observe relationship patterns and engage regularly in dialogue with students on the trip. The event doesn’t start when you get to your destination. The event starts at registration. That means that the ride is important to help students connect. We encouraged our bus to disconnect from their screens and to get to know each other. One of our girls came up to me and said, “Can I switch rooms? I just made new friends on the bus.” So it is possible to make new friends on the bus.
5. Create Memories.
We did some goofy things on our trip to Beach Camp but it created memories. I had the girls write one sentence about what they were excited about or something they wanted to share. Then they passed the card to the next seat. We ended up having a keepsake and it helped me know how to pray for them.
6. Utilize Glympse for travel announcements
If you are leading the buses, you will probably get asked this question multiple times: “Where are you?”. I have found that using the app Glympse is a great resource tool. You can personalize the app and allow parents the opportunity to “follow” your journey from start to finish.
7. Do recon work on your rest stops and meal stops
For years there was a rest stop that I remembered that had massive amounts of bathrooms and they offered free orange juice or grapefruit juice. It was not the most direct route, but when I considered the amount of time it took to unload 12 buses at a rest stop that only had 3 toilets for girls vs extra mileage, I realized that this was an ideal choice. We could get everyone refreshed and also complete our rest stop in about 30 minutes. I called the rest stop to confirm that they would be ready for our ETA. It was fabulous. In addition, I called the food courts ahead of time to give adequate warning to food places so that the wait is minimal. There is also an app called Point inside (https://www.pointinside.com/point-inside-shopping-and-travel-app/) that I use to share with students ahead of time so they know places to eat as they are dropped off. I also give boundaries for stops. They are allowed to eat in the food court. They are not allowed to shop in stores. They must be in groups of 3 or more.
Hopefully as you are doing your summer trips, this will be helpful information. Happy Trails to you!
*This post originally appeared in 2009. It has been updated with content and media for relevancy today.
I don’t think it probably took very long for you to see some of these behaviors that hens do, lived out in the way women nurture. Women are nurturers. However, nurturing can become territorial and competitive very quickly.
Understanding a little bit about what goes on in a chicken pen may give us some insight into why sometimes there are bickerings and quarreling that may arise between leaders of girls. Especially when there are several different layers of leadership.
In our church we have Lifegroups leaders, we have Sunday school teachers, Sunday School mentors, Student Peer leaders, Highschool girl mentors to middle school, Student Ministry Staff, and many volunteers leaders. In the midst of these layers of leadership, there is often overlapping in nurturing that happens. Nurturing and raising chicks is what a hen is supposed to do. Read below from a segment I discovered regarding aggressive poultry and see if you can find possible similarities in girls ministry that points to toxic nurturing.
Aggressive Chicken by Katie Thear
The pecking order is a well-defined hierarchical pattern of behaviour that manifests in flocks. There is a ‘top bird’ to which the rest will defer, often giving way at the food container or generally getting out of the way. The top bird is often a cock, but in the absence of a male, an old hen may hold the position. She may continue to hold sway even if there is a male, if he happens to be young and nervous. The pecking order extends downwards (just as it does in human societies), with the weakest having to survive as best as they can, dodging the onslaughts of the more powerful. The pecking order may also extend sideways, with a previously untouched bird being attacked if, for example, it becomes ill or sustains a wound that attracts the unwanted attention of the other birds.
Where new birds are introduced to an existing flock, there are always problems because the natural pecking order is disrupted. A hen spotting a newcomer will utter a single warning croak that alerts the rest of the flock. It then becomes fair game to peck at and chase away the stranger.
God created women specifically to have an amazing ability to nurture. It’s something we do naturally. It’s not a bad thing. Have you ever seen a hen gather her baby chicks under her wing? It’s a beautiful thing. It’s very natural and it makes sense. She is protective. She is taking care of that which was entrusted to her. Even Jesus uses this imagery when He speaks of how He wants to protect His children.
Matthew 23:37 how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
What does nurture technically mean? to feed and protect: to nurture one’s offspring.
2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians. 3. to bring up; train; educate.
These are all things that you would want to have in one who mentors or invests in the girls God has entrusted into your care. Unfortunately, sometimes women can develop a pecking order of their own when it comes to who gets to be close to certain girls in the ministry. It begins innocently enough with phrases like: “My girls told me this.”
But that phrase can become very toxic if the group of girls is poured into by more than one woman within the ministry. I have seen this happen especially in the presence of small groups. Small groups are so vital to growth but one con that I have observed in girls ministry is when the small groups become small territories of the leader.
So here are some things to remind small group leaders and yourself of as a new school year begins:
1. The girls in the girls ministry are always “someone else’s girl too” . They are daughters. They are granddaughters. They have other mentors than just you. AND THIS IS HEALTHY! Recent studies have shown that a cluster of mentors is even more healthy than just one mentor per child. So remember to share. Try not to use territorial words. “But she is MY girl”. When we use those words, it discredits the impact other women have had on this student and can be very hurtful.
2. Be aware of the tools you use to draw boundaries which cut other leaders off from influence:
a. information.— Withholding information from other leaders or the student minister may provide a moment of mentoring power, but in the longrun there are certain things that may need to be shared–especially if you have a girls ministry leader or youth minister involved.
b. experience.—reminding new leaders or new volunteers that you have been here longer and know what’s best for YOUR girls. If you have been around for a long time—great! I know that when I was a new leader in my church, I had several veterans take me aside and invite me into ministry with them instead of blocking me out. I’m not suggesting that there needs to be flat leadership when working with girls…there does need to ultimately be someone responsible for the strategic and intentional plan for nuturing girls—and when that is communicated, the rest of the leaders need to work together to minister to “OUR girls” that God has brought to the church.
3. As a girls minister, there are some things that can be done to create some healthy mixing among leaders and girls. We are trying to ensure that at events, we place groups of girls with different leaders than those they may have for a lifegroup or sunday school class. This provides them the opportunity to hear from another Godly woman how God has worked in and through them and to hear another teaching style.
4. Another leadership opportunity is to place a younger leader (either spiritually or physically) with an older leader. Let’s not forget that sometimes toxic nurturing is just evidence of some maturity opportunities. This is also helpful in ensuring that a group is not just identified with one woman. I had led a group of girls for 3 years but always brought in new leaders into the group to serve with me. This constantly helped me to “give the group away” to others. Because if we’re honest, we develop heart ties to girls we’ve poured into. I never wanted that to be destructive or a distraction. The last two years I was with the group I facilitated, I brought on two permanent leaders. It is extremely healthy to do that. If you do not have shared leadership in the groups you facilitate, I encourage you to begin moving toward this opportunity.
5. PRAY! This is not the last thing to do. This is the first thing to do. Pray that God will unify your leadership and if there is a root of pecking order or jealousy or territorism growing in the girls ministry you serve in, then ask first if it is in you. Pray that God will allow nurturing to be healthy and not toxic within you. Continue to find ways to include the first girls minister the girls have the opportunity to know—this is their mother. Sometimes mom’s do not know God…but if they do—they have the right to be that primary girls minister for their daughter. Let’s do everything we can to pray that they are involved and do not feel threatened by other mentors God may bring alongside of their daughter. I am thankful my mom allowed women to be my mentors and continues to celebrate women in my life that share things with me.
It is a blessing to love others. It is a blessing to serve others. When it becomes competitive then the motivation has become something other than Godly. Seek—Pray—and Ask God what that motivation may be so that it does not become toxic to those you are nurturing and serving with.Tweet
I’m always looking for ways to get people joining together for bible reading. I stumbled across this free resource and thought I’d pass it along. While it doesn’t allow you to receive the reading plan via sms, it does remind you from email. In addition you can access the reading plan from the website. I created a quick sample plan for free in a matter of seconds. Enjoy using this resource with your students! click here to access the sample 10 day reading plan I createdTweet
“Fear of missing out” or “FOMO” is a term that started to trend when social media posts would document events. People wanted to make sure that they were in those pictures and not missing out at home. It created this anxiety that takes place within you as you scour instagram stories or snapchat to make sure there wasn’t something you weren’t invited to.
I’ve started playing around with a new term lately. It’s called “YAMO” or “You are missing out”. Recently I’ve been hearing about girls sharing moments on their stories or direct messaging other girls to let them know they were missing out and they weren’t allowed to be present. It moved from a casual, “wow, those people are together for a party and I didn’t get invited” to “hey we are having so much fun without you at this party”.
It’s a new way of mean girling and it hits at the core of our need for community. So what do you do about it as you minister to students?
1. Be aware that one of the tactics of satan is to attack when we are lonely. And social media highlights our loneliness. Scripture tells us that Satan prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) Lions devour weak, isolated, sick, and hurting prey. That’s one reason why we need to be in community as the body of Christ. We combat the loneliness that Satan wants us to live in.
2. Ensure that you have consistent places of community that exist for students where they are regularly having face to face conversation and soul to soul accountability. I say face to face, because generation z is losing the art of communicating deeply. They are exchanging real conversations for emoji’s, snaps, texts, and stories. They need to learn how to go from a face to face to a soul to soul talk. It’s in those moments where you as a leader can call our Christ in them and remind them of their identity in Christ, their significance in Christ, and their purpose in Christ.
3. Use attendance tracking to pursue those who have dropped off the scene. This is not something I have done well at, but I can tell you this is a new goal of mine. I want to pursue the unseen student as much as I pursue the present student. The lifegroup I lead is now in 10th grade. We use a tool called GROUPME to continue weekly conversations when we aren’t together. I want to send notes and phone calls in addition to a quick groupme so that these girls who may be suffering from loneliness begin to experience community to comes after them.
4. Address the YAMO attacks. This is not something that sisters in Christ do to one another. Even tonight as an adult girls minister, I have experienced persons that have stopped pursuing me for community for one reason or another and have posted social media moments that have ushered in some FOMO feelings. As an adult, although hurt, I have the maturity to respond with grace and forgiveness. I have persons in my circle that can remind me that my worth doesn’t come from who I hang out with, but from being loved sacrificially by my savior. Our girls need help in being equipped to handle those moments.
When I was growing up, I had a group of nine girl friends. The circles of friends within that group of nine would always change. My mom observed that every few weeks, it would be my turn to be left out. It was such a horrible experience, but she was right. My mom acknowledged the pattern. She would use those moments to remind me what makes a good friend. If there were some unhealthy friendships, we talked about how to walk away. As a girls minister, we need to remind girls that it’s not okay to mean girl through a YAMO story or DM. And if a girl is being YAMO’d, we need to come alongside of her and equip her to know how to respond. And as she is being lulled into loneliness, we need to bring her into intentional community. Pray that God would help you to see the girls who may be walking in loneliness because of a FOMO or YAMO incident. Tweet
I’m now a mom to two Gen Alpha boys! Whew! In fact, because of the newest Gen Alpha in our family, I may be a little sleep deprived. As he is just newly arrived 10 weeks ago. But he has gotten me thinking and praying…how will his generation be different than generation z. There is always some “generation bleed” (As I call it) when one person who traditionally fits into a birth year of a generation, but due to circumstances with how old their parents are or siblings, they ACT more like a generation before or after them in certain moments.
Gen Z is the generation we have in our student ministries currently. Give or take a few years…the oldest you will see Gen Z characteristics is at about the age of 22. I started noticing Gen z for the first time when my now graduating seniors were juniors. I was grieved that I didn’t notice the switch between millennial to Gen z until then. I don’t want to be caught off guard this time.
While I am currently enjoying discovering more and more about equipping Generation z, I can’t help but be intrigued by Gen Alpha since I am literally immersed in it as a mom to a 5 year old and 10 week old.
Current research trends are saying Gen Alpha’s arrived on the scene with the iPad in 2010. That would put us seeing them arriving in our ministries in about 5 years.
So what would happen if we as the church began praying IN ADVANCE for a generation coming into our student ministries? What if we were preparing for them?
I have been encouraged lately by some other friends who are new parents of a get alpher, to begin to literally pray from head to toe over the gen alpher’s we have in our homes.
Some things you could pray for already for this generation:
“They are the most materially endowed and technologically literate generation to ever grace the planet!”-Mccrindle.com.au
While with Generation z I’m praying for them to understand Lordship of Christ and the ability to surrender their life to Him…I wonder if with Gen Alpha with just a continued thrust of digital connectedness that they will struggle with understanding how to walk spiritually in a relationship with Christ. I’m just spitballing here, but that is shaping some of what I am praying for my Gen Alpha’s. In fact, Skylar is the name of our youngest. Skylar comes from the etymology of “Scholar”. We want him to be knowledgeable of who Christ is and a scholar of the bible…and his middle name is JUDE. I pray for him to contend for the faith as stated in Jude 3.
““Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”
And my heart is that this generation will contend for the faith IN LOVE.
I believe that this upcoming generation will need to be taught COMMUNITY and how to express the LOVE of Christ in and through community. I think they will be longing for that. We are already seeing authentic community eroding from the margins of the lives of Generation z. So how can we continue to provide, and equip this next generation to experience biblical community and experience real relationship with Christ?
So while I don’t have a lot of “research” to dispense on Gen Alpha as yet, perhaps the greatest gift I can give today is to remind us that they are present and in five years we will be ministering to them. So let’s begin praying now! Tweet
This video is video #2 in a series of videos I did in order to prepare for a conference I led regarding working with guys on church staff.
This interview is with Jay Strother and Aaron Bryant who were the first guys I served with on a team at Brentwood Baptist many many moons ago. I asked my friends to share some tips and encouragement to other girls ministers. They have graciously allowed me to share this with others who may be wanting to know how to work with a girls minister. Thanks Jay and Aaron! I love you guys!