Who needs encouragement? This girl, and that girl…and that girl…

guestbloggerThe following post is an article that was received from guest contributor Tiffany Haynes during her mission trip to Casper, Wyoming. I think you’ll find it’s a great reminder of how we as leaders need the encouragement of fellow laborers and if we need encouragement…think how much more our students may need encouragement from their leaders. The word encourage means to fill one with courage. As you read Tiffany’s post, perhaps it will jog your memory of some of your summer roadtrips and remind you of that student that God is calling you to fill with courage.

It’s 2:22 p.m. and we’re still in Kansas. Seven hours ago we rolled out of the church parking lot in
a 25 passenger bus filled with 17 students and six adults headed towards Casper, Wyoming. Each
year we take students on a mission trip and this year we’re headed to work with the World Changers

organization in the city of Casper for four days.  It’s definitely a trip of mixed emotion. In years passed, my good friend Kathy would always make these long bus trips along side of me. We’d talk and laugh for miles on end. Beautiful memories were formed on these journeys and such a deep bond was created. Last October, Kathy met her sweet Jesus.
The seat next to me will forever be vacant – not because no one sits there, but because no one will ever replace that which she gave me. Kathy could love with such fervency and grace that it is nearly indescribable. She was an encourager to the core.

As I scan the faces on the bus I think about what each student brings on board – not just their luggage and sleeping bag, but what is carried in their hearts. Are they feeling the same mixed emotion I am? Are they well-focused after weeks of preparing for this trip? This week holds not only a lot of sweat, short nights, and needed caffeine hits, but workings within the soul. Many students will be seeking God for direction in their life, renewal in their walks, and peace back home when they return.

Right before we left another youth leader told me, “I’m going to need encouraging on this trip.” Don’t we all feel like that sometimes? There just never seems to be enough people who encourage with intensity in this world. It’s important as our students pursue God that we encourage them through their voyage. While they seek immediate answers and fixes, we must be ready to remind them to persevere.

I love a song Addison Road sings called This Little Light of Mine. Its lyrics prompt us of the light we are to shine because Christ is illuminated in us. One of my favorite verses says: “One day there will be no more pain, and we will finally see Jesus’ face, so until then I’m going to try to brave the dark and let my little light shine.”

Brave the dark, leaders. We must stand firm for the generation rising up behind us and speak Truth into their lives. You have been called to shine your light in a pitch black world, so let your light shine in your sphere of influence. First Thessalonians 5:14 serves as the perfect reminder: “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” That sums up our role as ministers to our girls, doesn’t it? Our girls
need to be reminded that they are beautiful – without make-up. They need to be reminded that their feet may stink but their excitement is contagious and will permeate the lives of others. They need to be reminded that they too carry the flame.

HOMEWORK MONDAY: What Infrastructure Are You Building For the Girls In Your Ministry?

I was on vacation this week and didn’t get to post homework for homework thursday but I have some for you to do…watch this video and then prayerfully begin thinking through what biblical foundational truths you are giving to your girls or daughters on a regular basis? Are you allowing them to pick and choose topics that blow with the wind or are you providing a systematic spiritual nutrition much like the food pyramid?

Keeping our “experiences” in check when mentoring girls.


Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Heb 13:7).

The most important thing is putting women in and around the girls ministry that get God’s word in their lives and girls can see the outcome of that in the way they live their everyday lives. Don’t let YOUR PAST EXPERIENCES become your primary girlsministry tool.

Some questions to ask regarding when to use a life experience:

1. Am i sharing this to bring attention to myself?

2. Are there parts of this experience that do not need to be disclosed? Too much information for a certain age group to hear?

3. Am I sharing this experience because it has been healed, redeemed, transformed or is this possibly a therapy session for me?

4. Sharing an experience brings a certain level of authenticity at times so I’m not saying never share personal stories, just ask yourself—what spiritual truth does this experience reinforce as I mentor this sister in Christ?

Tips to help you interact with girls in the girl world bubble.

I was reading an online article from Reader’s Digest that looks at the differences of teaching girls and boys.  The article utilizes the experience of of David Chadwell, who serves as a coordinator of single gender education in South Carolina.  In summary, one of the statements made discusses how girls  “interpret speaking in a loud tone as yelling and anger, which can cause them to shut down. Stressful environments make girls feel nervous or anxious because stress sends their blood to their guts.”

There were other basic observations that were made, but I wanted to camp out here and talk about ways we can help the girls we lead be able to enter and learn in a non-stressful environment.

Seating in a circle. The article mentions having the girls sit in a circle.  A circle is very inclusive to a girl. It’s a way to  say non-verbally, “We’re intentional about you belonging” and “You’re going to be a part of this gathering”.

Music playing in the background.  If you have an iphone or a computer that can stream pandora.com then that might be a good option for you to have playing as the girls are coming in.  One of our students pointed me to: a station of piano music called Dustin O’Halloran.

Food or a beverage served at the beginning of the group. When boys are omitted from the environment, girls will throw down some food. They may not be as willing to eat a bunch if they are not feeling confident but providing them with something to do or have in their hands will help them become more social and bring a level of calming to the room.  Even I feel a little more comfortable when I come into a room and see food or a beverage because I know immediately what is expected of me.  I’m expected to make myself at home and get social.

Icebreakers that have the leader asking questions of the group. Girls want to be known. They want to have an opportunity to have a voice. However, they try desperately to blend in first so they can take a moment and scan the group to see who they relate to best and who they want to be identified with.  So if you begin your small group by just jumping into the lesson without getting to hear the “voice” of each girl, you are actually slowing down community.  Sometimes a group is too big for you to “hear” each girl so if you can create an icebreaker that gets girls interacting with each other, it allows for girls to talk and be heard by some of the girls in the group.  It’s a safe way to create some interaction to help them determine how to comfortably relate to the group.

What are some tips you have regarding ministering to girl specific groups?


GUEST BLOGGER: Spiritual Jaws need Meat



93 Tiffany Haynes has done us the favor of sharing another guest blog for us.  I am so very thankful because girlsminister.com has been very busy going from mission week to summer camp to VBS to missions week and I haven’t had a chance to take a breath and process all that God has been doing. Thanks to Tiffany, we have a post this week!

If you haven’t met Tiffany, check out her other articles here.

Exposing God’s Word To Students

One of common understandings we know regarding the nature of girls v. boys is that girls typically mature faster than boys.  However, one thing we often fail to remember is that this truth is not only relevant from a physical and emotional standpoint, but also from a spiritual standpoint.

As we teach our girls, we need to remember that providing them with spiritual meat to chew on is muy Bueno (that’s “very good” in Spanish.  See, I did pay attention in college!).  As my friend, Gregg, states – we must tear muscle to build muscle.  We need to be giving our girls’ spiritual jaws a hefty workout by tossing God’s meaty Word their way.  Too often we get skittish of going “too deep” in our topics with them.  The bad part is, we’re so anxious about the deep waters that we over-compensate and then find ourselves (and our students) standing in the shallow end of the pool.

Like it says in Colossians 2:7 (NIV), we need to be “rooted and built up in Him.”  It’s important to expose girls to the depth of our Lord and Christ.  Oftentimes, we take a reverse approach and try to address a common issue by crafting scripture around the issue.  We work diligently at wrapping the message in a ritzy bow in order increase the appeal of our words instead of just allowing God’s Word to do the work for us (check out Nehemiah 8:3).

As leaders, our purpose is to expose our girls to God’s Word and then allow His Holy Spirit to equip.  In order to expose them more, consider teaching from an “expository” approach.  Expository is just a fancy word for going through a book of the Bible and describing, informing, and defining the author’s writings – and referencing other Scriptures to reinforce the context – to the reader.  This will definitely stretch your own spiritual muscles as you study and prepare for these types of messages (try using commentaries, concordances, and other credible study sources); but remember, it was never God’s intention that we play hop-scotch with His Word.

Deep Calleth Deep

Back in January I began doing a study on the book of Exodus.  I read nearly every day out of this 384 page book with insanely tiny print.  It’s July now and I’m only half way through it!  There’s much to chew on, but it has truly been the most breathtaking ride to study God’s Word in such intimate detail.  The parallelism between the Old Testament and the New Testament has simply rocked my face off and I pray leaders would help their students learn to study and known God’s Word with such depth.

We truly serve a God of details.  Did you know that the Ark in Exodus was made of “shittim wood” (also known as acacia)?  Funky word and can easily be glossed over, but it was said to be from a tree which many thought to be imperishable and could thrive in very dry conditions.  Furthermore, it’s interesting to find that when this tree is pierced, it actually oozes and produces a type of gum which is used in medicinal preparations.  Does this “piercing” remind you of anything?  Ah, yes, our Jesus who was pierced for us and whose blood flowed forth from His side.  Through His death, we experience healing.  What a phenomenally intricate reassurance to know how God chose the very wood the Ark would be comprised of in order to foreshadow what Christ would achieve for us thousands of years later.

Do our girls clearly understand the intensity of our Father?  How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  (Romans 10:14) As leaders involved in girls ministry, it’s so vital to ensure we don’t linger in the shallows too long, but teach our girls to immerse themselves in the rushing waters of Christ.
Good words Tiffany! What about you? How are you seeing God make His words jump off the pages and bring the spiritual nutrition you need to do what He’s called you to do?

How are you leading the girls that God places in your life to see God’s word as the meaty meal they need?

How are you helping them to excercise their spiritual jaws and really start chewing on God’s word?

Getting girls to click into your student ministry…


I remember the first day on the job as a girlsminister. It was our fall retreat! I was surrounded by cliques of girls and I couldn’t figure out how to get inside of one of those circles. They all seemed to be looking at me—the new girl—and sizing me up. Didn’t they realize I was an adult and the girls minister?! I think I thought there would be instant connection like there was when I worked summers at the large Christian camps. Just because I was camp staffer, I often had students come up and start talking with me about some pretty heavy things. But, this was not how it was on my first day on the job. There were some sweet people that tried to come over and introduce themselves but mostly it was cliques. Then on Sundays and Wednesdays there was the hallway that I renamed “The Gauntlet”. It was a horrible hallway because you had to walk down it to get into the sunday school room and lining every square inch of wallspace were groups of girls that weren’t talking to me but to each other. Very intimidating! I’m very thankful for the gauntlet and for that first fall retreat because it reminds me of what it feels like to be new in our student ministry. It’s scary!
That’s why I worked with some leaders and some girls to have a strategy to receive new girls into our student ministry. The idea is the 1-2-3 CLICK! method.  Now understand that we don’t just go around saying “hey new girl…this is how we’re going to get you connected in three clicks.” This is just something that I have used to explain to students or leaders to help them understand how to continue reaching out to new people that have been introduced to our student ministry.

Here’s the basic premise:
1. Meet  a girl who is unconnected and introduce her to her peer group.
2. Take her to coffee or introduce her to a peer or leader which will take her to coffee to get to know her.
3. Get her connected to a lifegroup of girls who have hung out with her or introduce her to a relationship building catalyst like Snowball Girls Retreat.  AND CLICK! She’s in.

I have observed that typically after 3 intentional relationship connections from you the leader, to a healthy peer group, to a bonding event or small group and the student will click into a place they feel welcomed and known within your student ministry. How do you get girls connected and help them feel safe, loved and known in your student ministry?

When cliques battle in your girls ministry

Clusters aren’t bad. It speaks to our longing for community. We desire to be with people that are like us…that get us…that we can relate to. Why? Because we all want to be known. That’s why Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 139 speaks so deeply to each of us…God knows the plans and purposes He has for us. He knew us before we were even breathed our first breath of air.
We want to be known.

It’s when the clusters we choose to be in become our identity and even change the way we think and act. It’s when they begin to battle against other clusters that we have to step in and help students understand that the cluster has become unhealthy.

So what do you do when you have two groups of girls that are battling each other?

I had a chat with our pastoral care minister awhile ago and he had some amazing insights that I think would be great to pass along to you.

I have had groups not get along before…typically they are middle school girls. When this happens, I will usually address each group separately and then eventually bring the groups together. Sometimes, it is a little miscommunication that is causing a rub between the two groups. However, there are times when two groups really just don’t get along and begin to act on it. At this point, the groups move into something called GROUP THINK.
If I were to sit the two groups down, they may tell me what I want to hear but there will be no breakthrough.
I discovered from our pastoral care minister that the girls who were a part of these two groups may not really want to act the way they are but they also don’t want to lose the comfort, community, and safety of The GROUP…so they begin to put aside their individual responses and think the way THE GROUP would think.

It is when this begins to happen that it is important to help restore the individual’s ability to think, act, and feel.
One way of doing this is to bring a girl from each group together to have a conversation where the GROUP is not able to tell her how to think, act, and feel. Each girl has to do that for themselves. Allow each girl to share how they have felt when the other group behaved a certain way about them. This will help each of the girls begin to have some empathy and realize that their actions have an impact. Allow the conversation to progress so that the girls have an opportunity to make a difference. End the conversation with the girls determining consequences for when they themselves behave a certain way against the other group. This will hopefully allow the two girls to begin to work together to bring about a change for good.

Hopefully this will be helpful for you when some groups are having a hard time understanding how their words and actions are impacting other girl groups in your student ministry. And thanks to my pastoral care minister for working with me to think through some action plans.

A Girls Ministry top 5 “need to know” list:


Every once in awhile we will be posting some list posts that we think you need to know about in regards to girls ministry. Today’s list post is for women leaders in your church that are trying to figure out how to raise these young women to take their places.

So here it is: 5 things women leaders need to know in order to raise young women to take their places.

1. Pray for girls in your church. Remember what it was like to be a girl, and know that even with all the technology and advancement that these girls are familiar with—they still need the same basic things you did when you were their age. They need to belong. They need to be loved. They need to know God has a plan for their lives even when they don’t have the attention of the cool crowd or the boy they are crushing on. They need to know their identity, significance, and purpose through Christ. Before you say one thing to mentor a girl, speak her name in prayer to God—and commit to continuing to be her secret prayer warrior.

2. To commit themselves to walk along-side of girls in your church for a consistent amount of their teen-aged journey.
The reasons that I am doing what I am doing now is a direct result of the influence of my mother, and 3 key women leaders who committed to walk alongside of me through life, speak God’s truth into my life, and encourage me while challenging me to be the woman God was calling me to be.

3. Give them opportunities. When you spend time with girls, you will begin to see characteristics and gifts beginning to emerge that may seem rough at first, but if they are given opportunities to lead and try out those gifts, they can begin to see how God made them that way for a purpose. It saddens me greatly that some of our schools allow students more opportunities than our churches. Sure they will mess up, but don’t we? Sure they will need direction, but so do we. If we can build leaders now, they will be able to seize opportunities on their own upon graduation and beyond.

4. Invite them into your world. Do not be afraid of these girls, or belittle yourself because of your age. They need you! I cannot tell you how many girls have told me that they want to hang out with another older woman so that they can see what a Christian home looks like, or to hang out with a solid Christian College student so they can figure out how to live boldly on their campus when they get ready to go to college, or to spend time with a Career woman who is a Christian. They want to know what to prepare for. They want role models, and we need to be those for them or else they will find them in worldly examples.

5. Equip their mothers. Find ways to support and encourage the mothers of girls, long before the girls become teenagers. When they do become mothers of teenagers, connect them with a mother who has been there/done that for support. Pray for the moms as this is the primary Girls Minister.

Mentoring…there are no short-cuts.

mentoringI have had many conversations about mentoring between girls and women. It’s so important! However there are no short-cuts. It takes prayer, time, commitment…it’s a journey.  I love the picture in this post that has a tender plant growing in the hands of two women. It’s fragile work much like gardening—which I have very little luck with since I am constantly unable to set aside time to weed, water, or watch the plant that I want to grow. As a result, my planting does not survive.  Below is a post I wrote that really was more of a rant, but it’s just a reminder that mentoring takes time much like gardening…there are no short-cuts.

previously posted by Amy-Jo Girardier on amyjogirardier.com on 01/14/08

I have heard and seen a lot of things as I have worked with girls and parents of girls. I am concerned with the quick fix mentality that some people have in the Church as a whole in regards to ministering among and to girls. If we see a modesty problem among our young ladies the quick fix is a suggested fashion show or an event that tells girls what they should wear. In my experience these seem like a good idea until you realize that you are creating a 3-D magazine of the “immodest” outfits that have simply been modified with leggings, layers, and larger sizes.
I have searched scripture to find out how women told girls how they are to dress and live their lives to honor the God they serve and follow. Ironically I have yet to find a scripture that says, “and so elder women gathered the girls to sit at the feet of the prettiest women in the village who had modified the fashions of the day to adequately cover their bodies in a trendier way.” Instead I find scripture that says the following:

Titus 2:4-8 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

The word “train”, I have a feeling, has a more long-term involvement then an event or fashion show. I will do some logos bible software research on that tomorrow but until then, I feel certain that the idea in terms of ministering to girls in biblical times took a life long approach of journeying with young girls for longer than a couple hours or even a weekend event. It called for sacrifice. It called for investment. It called for a denying of self. It’s hard to give up our lives and time for others. But I wonder what would happen to the lives we pour Christ into and I wonder what happens to our lives when we empty ourselves and welcome Christ to be poured through us into others? I’m thankful for the women who do this in my life—for the mom who loves me sacrificially…for the women who claimed me for their own to mentor…for the women who saw something in me when I saw nothing in myself…for the girlfriends that even now hold my hand in prayer literally when my husband is travelling and can’t be there to hold my hand…for the girlfriends I have who model for me what it looks like to love your family…for the co-workers I have who are women and teach me how to be a better nurturer…a better listener. THANK YOU to those of you who model for me the opposite of a quick fix in ministry. I pray that I may continually turn my head from the QUICK FIX of ministry and choose instead the long obedience of pouring my life in the lives of those around me. God I pray that more women in our church will see this as an opportunity and responsibility to journey alongside girls. If they need some direction I have some sunday school classrooms and smallgroups that need a leader and an apprentice leader. These spots remain vacant until someone answers the call to journey alongside of girls in our place of ministry.
And I step off of my soapbox to go to bed.