5 Reasons Your Ministry Needs Women Leaders @youth_min

Contributions, leadership, women, youth ministry, youthmin.org

Youth Ministry girl leaders

This post originally appeared here: http://www.youthmin.org/5-reasons-your-ministry-needs-women-leaders/

Your youth ministry needs women leaders.  Before we start arguing the theology of women in ministry, I want you to hear me out:  The purpose of this post is not to advocate for ordained women, or women pastors, or to argue the Pauline view of women.

The purpose of this post is to convince you why you need more women in roles of discipleship, worship, and (yes) teaching.  We need to have a spread of leaders who represent the spread of the audience in gender, color, and background.  So if your youth group is 60% female and 40% male, you should have about that amount of male/female leaders.  I empathize that it may never be perfectly that way, but you should strive for that representation.

Girls need women leaders.

Seems like a no-brainer, yes?  Young girls need to have examples of women who are leading. If we are teaching our young ladies that they need to advance the gospel, then we need to have examples of women who are actively advancing the gospel in their lives personally.  Additionally, girls desperately need to hear from a variety of women.  Girls need to see a picture of themselves in these roles so that they can do it, too.

Boys need women leaders.

For so long, we’ve been doing ministry so that boys can only lead boys, and girls can only lead girls.  However, there are wonderful things that boys need from both men and women, just as girls need both in their development.  When I began my first youth ministry position, a mother came to me and told me that her son was going to be my toughest case, because he doesn’t respect women, and that included his mother.  I remember that first night of youth group–this eighth grader challenged me with every “tough question” he could muster on women, homosexuality, and president Obama.  When I left two years later, that same mother said to me that her son not only respected women, but valued their leadership in his life.  He became more sensitive, more respectful, and even more affectionate towards his own mother.  Boys need men to mentor them, yes; yet having women as leaders will lead them to holding greater value of women.

Male leaders need women leaders.

Men and women compliment each other.  You have a variety of leaders who are more playful, some more disciplinary, some more empathetic, some more protective, some more approachable, and others more on a pedestal; not to mention the variety of skills: building sets, making snacks, teaching, discipling, etc.  Put people in their sweet spots, and play off their strengths. I serve in a ministry where the co-directors are an unrelated male and female, and it’s beautiful watching how the strengths play off of each other, and where one is weak another fills in strong.  Think about it: why does God give children both a mother and a father?  Both are beautiful and have roles that are necessary in leadership.

Women leaders need women leaders.

I will be the first to admit that I need support.  I need examples of strong women in ministry so that I can do ministry, and I definitely see the effects as I begin mentoring women in ministry.  We need discipleship and community, especially as a part of our female identity.  Personally, it can be difficult as a female in a male-dominated profession, and I crave interaction with other ladies.  So ladies, step it up! And… let’s be friends.

God needs women leaders.

God uses women for multiple tasks in the Bible, and in Acts it is said that God will use both sons and daughters to prophesy in his name.  God uses some of the most random people to accomplish His tasks, so never discredit a potential leader based on their gender, age, race, or background.  From Abel to Moses to Deborah to David to Esther to John the Baptizer to Jesus to the Woman at the Well to Paul… (anyone else out of breath?)… God has a knack of loving and using people who just don’t fit the standard mold.

Prenancy in Youth Ministry @youth_min

church, Contributions, leadership, women, youth ministry, youthmin.org

pregnant volunteers

This post originally appeared here: http://www.youthmin.org/pregnancy-in-youth-ministry/

Pregnancy in youth ministry:  Nope, I am not talking about your teenagers, I am talking about your ministers.  Starting a family is an intimidating thought to begin with, but trying to balance it with ministry is even more difficult.  Imagine being a woman in ministry: having to deal with morning sickness in Sunday School, the pregnancy leave from the ministry, the breastfeeding at church camp.  Trying to figure out the whole pregnancy thing brings so many questions, but mainly How can I do this?  

Women ministers, are you pregnant or thinking about starting a family?  While I have never been pregnant myself, I have done some research and talked with the fine ladies in our Facebook group.  Please chime in with additional advice in the comment section!

While You’re Pregnant

  • Decide how you’re going to inform your pastor, the church, and the youth group.  It is probably not the best idea to post it on Facebook and let everyone go crazy.  It will be much more professional and personal to do it in person.
  • Start preparing your volunteers to take charge of the ministry while you leave on pregnancy leave.  As the pregnancy progresses, you are going to have days where you are not going to be as reliable as you once were.  Prepare them so that if you have to leave the lesson to relieve your bursting bladder, they will be able to pick it up.
  • Make a plan with your husband.  How is this all going to look when the baby gets here?  Will one of you take a little extra time off?  What is your schedule going to look like once the baby gets here?
  • Realize that you can’t do the same activities you could before.  But just because you cannot zip-line or ski does not mean your students cannot!  There are ways for you to be able to go on trips with them without having to do the activities; and if you just can’t go, no one will blame you.  Do not feel like your level of commitment lessens—your students will understand why you do not want to tube on your pregnant belly (well, you might have to explain it to the middle school boys).

The Pregnancy Leave

  • Know your laws about maternity leaves.  Investigate what that looks like and talk to your church about how they will accommodate that.
  • Do as much preparation as you can in as much advance as you can.  Will your church hire a temporary youth minister, or will you have to equip volunteers to run the ministry while you are gone?  Whatever you choose, you will have to decide early on in your pregnancy; you do not want to have to decide these things and prepare volunteers to do your job when your hormones are raging, your back is hurting, and you feel exhausted and burned-out from a baby kicking your insides.
  • Decide your level of commitment beforehand—how involved will you be?  Will you be around and available to volunteers, or will you be strict about your maternity leave?  Will you even come near your church during this time?  You will need to decide these things.  Typically a maternity leave means “no contact,” but will that work for your ministry?  Most importantly—stick to your plan!  There will be people calling you up while you are still in the hospital unless you make it clear exactly your level of involvement during this period.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help; you are performing life’s greatest miracle and need time to recover as well as spend time with your precious newborn.  You do not need to worry about a ministry on top of breastfeeding.  Relax and trust that everything will be fine while you’re gone.

After You’ve Returned to the Ministry

  • Realize that it will take some time to adjust, even after you return to the church.  Many women struggle with their emotions following having a baby.
  • Do not be discouraged when you find you cannot commit the same way you used to.  Fortunately you work for the church, a building full of God’s saints.  Even though the church may not always be pretty, no one can resist a baby.  No teenager will be mad because you missed the mud tug-o-war because you were taking care of your baby.  In fact, having a baby might unite your students in ways you never expected.  Realize that you have a youth group full of babysitters who will take your baby off your hands (and if not your students, their parents will be willing to help).  Every woman I have talked to has talked about how great their church was to them throughout their pregnancy and after the baby was born.  Trust that it will be fine.

Remember: You can be a minister AND a mom.  You will show your youth how to prioritize and balance God, your marriage, your new family, and your ministry.  Allow the Holy Spirit to lead your motherly senses. :)