Girls Ministry case study #1: What should you do?

This past week I had a great conversation with a mom regarding her daughter. Even though I had not talked with this mom before regarding this particular situation, the conversation itself is one I’ve had several times before with different moms. I thought it might be helpful to walk you through a case study of this popular conversation.

The conversation may contain this phrase:
My daughter doesn’t want to go to ___________________
(a) church
(b) her small group
(c) the retreat or event

So what do you do as a girls minister/ volunteer?
Ask this question:
Have you noticed any changes in her relationships?
Are there any girls that she used to hang out with and now she doesn’t?
Has she mentioned any experiences that may have caused her to feel less confident?

If they answer yes to any of the above questions, then it’s possible that she has had a friendship hierachy tornado hit her life. It’s a part of girl world life. If she hasn’t had it happen yet, it’s probably coming.
What’s a hierachy? The definition is as follows: A hierarchy (Greek: hierarchia from hierarches, “leader of sacred rites”) is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being “above,” “below,” or “at the same level as” one another.
So what does this mean in girl world? It means that what was at the same level as the girl has either become more important or less important. Or the girl herself has dropped or risen in the hiearchy herself.

When I was in middle school, I had a group of nine girl friends. We would sit together at lunch and always attend every social gathering together as a clump. But if you dug deep enough you would realize that there was a hierachy even in our clump. And sometimes I came home from school excited because I was in the “inner circle”, and other times I came home discouraged because it was my turn to be the odd girl out. My mom says it was like clockwork when it was my turn to be out of the inner loop. I didn’t see it, but she did. My mom did a great job of not meddling but calling out things in my friends that she thought were good, and when I got hurt or treated poorly, she would ask “do you think that was something you deserved or were they being a good friend to do that to you?”. We had good talks, albeit the length and depth of the conversation were in my hands when it came to talking about friends. But when I was ready to talk, mom was always there.

So what can you do as a girls minister to help moms that come to you with concerns regarding their daughter not wanting to come to church?
Share with the mom that in this GSI (Girlworld Scene Investigation—what? Too cheesy?! Sorry) you both may need to observe her daughter and ask some key questions to begin to determine the cause behind her change in wanting to be at church.
1. Encourage her to encourage her daughter to keep attending. This is one of the big battles she needs to fight. If this isn’t solved, it’s possible that she will not see church as a welcoming place in the future. It will be painful to tell her daughter she has to go somewhere she doesn’t feel comfortable but this is a prime opportunity for you as girls minister to ease this situation. Offer to the mom to meet the daughter for a coke or coffee talk to “get to know her” or “catch up”. See if the daughter will share with you regarding why she is not wanting to go to church anymore. If there is another group of girls you can introduce her to than the previous group she may have been hanging out with, it may help her feel more open to trying church again. I have found that forcing girls to “work it out” has not been very successful. But creating some new friendship opportunities often times can help out greatly.

2. Ask the mother to ask her daughter what it would take to get her to feel more positive about attending?
Would a friend buffer be an option? (A friend buffer is someone that is a neutral friend who comes to an event to secure that the girl will not be alone) PS don’t use the term friend buffer as this is not a recognized term but merely one that I’ve made up for our use behind the scenes of girls ministry.
3. Encourage the mom to pray for her daughter during this difficult time. She may not be able to find out what’s actually going on, but God is fully aware and is able to work in her heart and the heart of others unlike girls ministers, moms, and volunteers.

These are just some starter options that I would offer if this case scenario were to appear on my doorstep. What about you? What else would you do in this situation?

Twilight: a discussion for moms and daughters.

Every girl needs a vampire?


As I write this, I just finished book 3 of The Twilight series written by Stephanie Meyers. I am aware that I am not a teenaged girl and so some of you may be asking why I am spending my time consumed with these books of almost 500 pages each that girls across the country are reading over and over again. It’s for that exact reason that I am reading them. I found myself on the outside of conversations that girls were having concerning this fantasy lovestory that they were reading 5 and 7 times. See I am a girlsminister and I have some amazing girls and moms that I care for very much who have had some conversations with me about this book series. I have hated not being able to enter into the conversation and so after getting my Kindle, I decided it was time to download these books and read them.

The following is the part 1 of a series I will use to create some conversations among moms of teenaged girls.

As I finished book 3 today in a matter of 2 weeks, I found myself caught up in the storyline of a Highschool Jr named Bella who finds herself in a lovestory with an unlikely character—a vampire. It was easy to read the story and allow Bella’s story to become my own as you read the narrative through her eyes. You begin to find yourself in her situations, and I would even say most teenaged girls are pretending in some way that Bella is them as they read this book. As a married woman and I read these thoughts and vivid descriptions of Bella’s emotions it is easy for me to recall and reflect on those ushy gushy feelings of infatuation and the “my breath just caught in my throat” kisses that I shared with my then fiance and my now husband of 9 years next month. The story of the vampire family and the werewolves are not the storyline that teenaged girls are enthralled with. The reason they are reading the books 5 and 7 times is not because they are intrigued with the fantasy of vampires and werewolves. They aren’t going goth! They are reading the books over and over again because of the descriptive pre-harlequin lovestory scenes that happen between Bella and her vampire Edward and later her best-friend turned werewolf Jacob who also loves Bella. I know right?!?!
*NOTE:The movie leaves out the sexual tension discussions that make up a large portion of the books.

So if your daughter is reading these books over and over again, and you have sat them down to talk with them about it but have not read it, you probably have heard these statements from their mouth and thought it was okay for you not to have to endure the reading of this series on your own time:

Statement 1:
Mom, it’s just this lovestory between Bella and Edward but it’s really good because they practice abstinence and do not have sex until they are married. That’s what you are trying to teach me right?

This is partially true. However, you need to not assume that is all that is going on. Edward the vampire is teaching your daughter a lot more about purity than that. And Bella is never the one who abstains except 1 time and it’s not because of her choice for purity but because it’s not convenient to her plans.

Some questions to ask your daughter in regards to this statement:
How do Edward and Bella show restraint? And if they show restraint, why are they doing so?
A: Edward makes the comment that he can’t have sex with Bella because in her human fraility he would kill her due to his vampire strength. (The actual reference says he would crush her skull because he is so strong.)
In addition, not only is Edward capable of harming Bella during sex, but because he is a vampire he also strongly desires her blood and he is not sure that he would be able to resist this urge to kill her for her blood as he becomes physical with her.
Later in book 3 Edward does make references to being old-fashioned and having morals and not wanting to have pre-marital sex because he is worried about Bella’s soul and doing the right thing.

So in the book, we constantly hear of “Edward’s rules” but we don’t ever have those rules defined. One of the things my mother and I talked about with a group of my girlfriends when I was in highschool were the dating rules we had to ensure purity before marriage. As a result, my friends and I created our own purity rules that we held each other accountable for. Some of these were rules that were obvious…and some of these were rules that pertained to beyond my highschool career as I had my mom’s rules at home that would have made some of these null and void anyway.
Here were just a few of the rules that we agreed to:
Not lying down horizontally with a boy.
Not allowing articles of clothing to be removed.
Not being alone with a boy in a room.
Not hanging out with a boy past midnight.

My husband and I added our own rules to our own list when we were dating and then engaged because it was becoming easier for us to think we already belonged to each other.

I include these in here to say that we never hear anything about what Bella and Edward were using as their rules to guard their purity and Bella’s life.
What we do see is that Edward constantly spends the night in Bella’s room and leaves in the morning so that Bella’s dad is unaware of what is going on up there.
We do see that Bella intentionally seduces Edward on several occassions and if not for Edward constantly pushing Bella away and telling her to “Be good” then they would have had sex.

QUESTION 2: Discuss with your daughter the entanglement of The Physical Appetite and The Sexual Appetite that moves throughout the series. Discuss the reason why Edward and Bella get as close as they can to feeding their appetites.

Ecclesiastes 6:7 All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied.
I think it is interesting that appetite is discussed so much throughout this series. Edward has found a way to supress his appetite for human blood by eating animals but Bella refuses to find a way to supress her sexual appetite. In fact she will go so far as to consider becoming a vampire (I haven’t finished book 4 yet so it could happen) in order to quench her appetite for Edward. Interesting that the character aches that deeply for this boy and will give up all other ambitions and dreams because without him her life has no purpose.

QUESTION 3: Discuss with your daughter how Bella may have gotten swept into this lovestory because she was in a place she hated, her flighty mother was choosing her own interests over her daughters as she lived out her days with her new husband on the road, she had a father she barely knew that didn’t know how to tell her he loved her, and she was in new school where she was the center-of-attention and had her pick of the guys except for one beautiful pale boy who seemed angry with her. Was Bella drawn to Edward for the right reasons? Are we sometimes looking for our lovestory to happen because we are lonely, not fitting in, wanting to feel loved, wanting to experience physical touch and willing to be swept away into a relationship that takes our lifestory in a different direction?

QUESTION 4: Your daughter will probably defend Edward strongly and she should. He is a vampire that has been 17 years old for over 90 years. He was born at the turn of the 19th century. He is an “old-soul” and exhibits moral traits from the years of his human youth most of the time. He is very calming. He is very protective. He is my favorite character in the story. Bella is the irresponsible one in most cases. And while Edward is someone that you fall in love with as you read the story, he is not reality.
For many of the readers, Edward may become their first understanding of a boyfriend. Use Edward as a discussion point for what are good attributes and what are unrealistic to expect of your future husband.

For example: 1 myth that Edward may have girls believing: Guys don’t live to hear girls answers to every detail of their life all the time. Guys may have moments where they are intuned to you more than another time but they tend to be the less “I just want to talk all night with you” sort of people. They are more into physical touch. More into just being with you without the talky talk. You hear more frequently the words: “Tell me what you’re thinking” from a female. Edward asks this question over and over of Bella throughout the series.

Another myth that girls may believe and expect of their future husband: He should live to keep me happy. He only thinks about me all the time. He will drop anything to come to my rescue. His life has no purpose without me.


  • The vampires are monogamous. Edward values marriage. Bella doesn’t but is willing to considered it.
  • Restraint from sex is a part of the story. It may only be because death is the immediate consequence but it is practiced.

That leads to a QUESTION 5: In the story of Bella and Edward, the consequence of immediate death is what causes the restraint in their activity. How would that change the restraints or lack of restraints we have in dealing with our temptations?

  • Another thing to celebrate is that Bella does exhibit some self-less acts. She moves to Forks because she realizes her mother wants to have this ability to travel with her new husband and she can’t if Bella stays with her in Phoenix.
  • The Vampire Parent figures are very strong and responsible in the story. However, Bella’s parental figures are very negligent and even seem child-like. Bella constantly has to take care of them in cooking for them, cleaning for them, and helping them think through life details.

These are just some beginning talking points that I am having with girls and other women I know that have read these books. I would be interested to add some of your questions  to this if you have been able to talk with your daughter or someone you mentor concerning this book. I will continue to add some more discussions as I continue to process the series.

FINAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I do want to acknowledge that I realize this is a fictional book and that Stephanie Meyers in no way is trying to mentor teenaged girls but she is just simply telling a lovestory. However, if our teenaged girls are becoming so wrapped up into this story, we need to make sure that we as girlsministers, mom, mentors, and youthworkers are there to have the conversations with our girls about purity and about lovestories and not just leave it up to a vampire named Edward. So mom’s, it’s time for you to ask your daughter to introduce you to Edward the un-edited version.
COMING SOON: PART2—If I were Bella’s girlsminister this is what I’d say.