Foster 1Taylor FosterMrs. CorbettSenior ProjectNovember 14, 2011 Girls’ Ministry Author Kate Johnson once said, “I was born. Whether or not that was to be ofconsequence is yet to be determined” after experiencing years of emotional, mental, and sexualabuse at the hands of the men around her. After questioning God about her purpose not only inlife, but in the context of biblical living, Kate found that after years of believing females wereunimportant in God’s eyes, she came to understand that women hold special importance inministry as leaders, teachers, and servants. She acknowledges that the women’s ministry at herchurch as one major milestone to her recovery and wishes that she had known of such a ministryin her younger years. The purpose of girls’ ministry is to raise girls to be women ground in abiblical foundation that encourages living in a way that is understandable and empowering. Thisministry gives purpose to not only women in a free society, but also shows women their worth inother less feministic environments, and is important to give meaning to the everyday lives ofwomen. The history of girls’ ministry is thought to have begun shortly after Pilgrims landed inNorth America in order to escape religious persecution. Women flourished in the ministry asmore persecuted Christians fled to the colonies in search of religious freedom; these womenserved as pastors, deaconesses, and elders. In one specific group, called the General Baptists,women were encouraged to hold these positions, compared to their other sect, the Regular
Foster 2Baptists who took more of an approach to Calvinism (Cook 191). Women then were allowed toserve as missionaries, Sunday school teachers, and as secretaries within the Church, but were notallowed to serve as pastors or deacons anymore in accordance to the marriage example explainedin the New Testament. Up to the late twentieth century, the specific counsel and ministry ofwomen was simply to take care of the orphans or to serve as Sunday school teachers; however itwas noted by youth pastors (predominantly male) that the girls within the youth groups were notignored per say, but definitely not given the attention in a way that was specific to the spiritualmaturation for girls. Thus, the idea of girls’ ministry was born. One of the many needs for girls’ ministry involves the difference of the sexes. Forexample “female teenagers are more actively involved in religious activities than their malepeers” (“Sex and Gender” 44). However most religious activities involve more bibleinterpretation for males rather than females, but girls still attend despite the fact they are not fedin the way that is specific to them. Girls’ ministry serves to actively encourage participation in away that is biblical but also geared more toward the female persuasion. However, according to astudy, “gender Discrimination and a lack of female professional mentors were perceived asbarriers and challenges to ministry.” (Johns et al. 115). Girls’ ministry leaders are now rising asinfluential members of the church society in order to help in this phenomenon, but the lack ofexperienced leaders make for a few issues. Male pastors attempt to create some ministryopportunities for girls, however fail because they cannot get close and mentor the girls in thisera, due to legal issues and fear of sexual accusations. This ministry requires strong femaleleaders who work as mentors to other girls growing up in the church in order to give a morepersonal account and education.
Foster 3 Other needs fulfilled by Girls’ Ministry are the physical, mental, and emotional needs ofgirls. According the Jimmie L Davis, author of the Girls’ Ministry Handbook, girls need “love,worth, safety, purpose, hope, self-esteem, and friendship” in order to really grow and maturehealthily (17). By providing a community of girls and leaders who share a common interest, girlsno longer are ignored within their youth groups, but instead have a loving family environmentwhere they are accepted and loved. Girls’ Ministry provides the family type atmosphere thatshould exist, but sadly does not in all cases; the ministry serves to give girls purpose and securitythey may not find at home. It fills the emotional need for stability and family outside of thehome. Girls need time also to be with each other physically and deal with their problems in acommunity way. Davis states that “planning time for building relationships is the starting pointin girls’ ministry. Planning for building relationships is vital. Girls need time to talk, sharefeelings, and connect with other girls who are feeling the same way,” regardless of socio-economic status, race, or age. Everyone, not just girls, needs to experience love, acceptance, andcommunity, and without an effective girls’ ministry, this need drives girls to look in otherunhealthy places to find these things. A girls’ ministry gives a safe place grounded in truth andpeace for girls to seek refuge and wisdom in, while filling their needs. Once the refuge aspect is established, a girls’ ministry’s job is to provide biblicalinstruction presented practically and specifically for girls. One way this can be achieved isthrough setting boundaries. In today’s society, the idea of boundaries have been thrown awayand replaced with the idea that feelings should determine the right and wrong course of action. Inreality, security is set up through boundaries, and this concept is proved true even in modernpsychiatry. When boundaries are removed “there is no truth” (Davis 19). The confusion fromgirls trying to live Godly lives in a world that tells them just the opposite makes it hard to believe
Foster 4the truth when it is presented. A girls’ ministry presents the option to not only gives boundariesthat give freedom to girls but also to encourage them against the prowess of the world. “In spiteof the turbulence of youth, our culture still expects young peopleto defer to the experience and wisdom of older people” who are studied and matured in the wordof God (Lind 70). Girls’ ministry offers the opportunity for the older women of the church toinfluence the younger generation and set the Godly example for them in a way that is morerelatable than say a male youth pastor. Females naturally relate to females more than males andin this way, are more relatable to follow the women who they are surrounded by. By setting aGodly example and boundaries, girls are given the opportunity to grow in a healthy churchenvironment not dominated by an excessively masculine presence. Girls’ ministries should also look to encourage three types of relationships: one with God,one with adults, and one with peers. All of these should be biblically based and promote ahealthy relationship that provides for the good of the girls and others. The first one, a relationshipwith God, comes from an “intrinsic need to have a relationship with the Creator” (Davis 28).Many times, girls fill this need with dating relationships with other boys as a part of the need fora male figure within their lives to give them self worth. Girls’ ministries strive to encourage arelationship with God, since that is what He purposed since the beginning. Once a relationshipwith God is established, a mentoring relationship is needed. There is a need for girls to also berelational despite the images presented by the media with a “negative attitude toward God andparents” (Davis 29). Relationships with Godly adults promote the relationship with healthy peerrelations as well. With a girls’ ministry at hand, the opportunity arrives for other girls to relate toeach other with the same kind of ideals; these relationships form bonds that not only keep eachother accountable, but provide a safe community where girls can communicate their feelings and
Foster 5enjoy community where they are loved. These relationships are usually built through variousevents sometimes within the youth group and sometimes within the girls’ ministries themselves. Girls’ ministry not only involves setting Godly examples and providing love andexamples, but it provides events for girls to fellowship together. Within many youth groups, thefocus serves to fellowship all members, however usually the activities planned are more inclinedfor males. Girls show up though in order to be included in their youth groups, but rarely withinyouth groups is there events geared more toward the girls. Naturally, “all Christian youthworkers see the Bible as important for their own lives and for ministry” but not all youth groupsapproach this in the same way (Kageler 55). Rather than the physical bonding experienced byboys through sporting events or video game tournaments, girls crave an emotional bonding time.Girls’ ministry provides this by specifically providing events where girls can not only bond withother girls, but with adults such as parents and leaders as well. Girls desire to have emotionalrelations with all types of people, and a girls’ ministry understands how to promote this in ahealthy way. More youth ministers than ever are being prosecuted and accused of havinginappropriate relations with female students; one way to prevent this is setting the boundary highfor relations between female students and male youth pastors. When women have the chance toinfluence women, not only does it protect the youth pastors, but it gives the opportunity for thegirls to be mentored effectively. Girls and boys are different and should be mentored to as such.The time spent with both groups is important, but girls’ ministry serves to cater to exactly therelational and activity needs for girls in a scripturally based manner. My own personal girls’ ministry story began when I was a freshman in high school. Ihave always had a supportive Christian household, but I never was ground in a church or withinthe youth group and had a hard time relating to other girls my own age. My relationship with
Foster 6God was nowhere near perfect either; in fact, the most I knew about God was the basic storiestaught in Sunday school every year. However, after some convincing from a friend of mine, Idecided to attend the girls’ ministry’s bible study that occurred every Tuesday night, and to saythat it impacted my life is an understatement. Pillars Girls’ Ministry of First Baptist Church ofCanton grounded me in the relationships to last a life time, and gave me the emotional, mental,and physical support I needed to be a Christian in a trying world. I personally testify to thenecessity of a girls’ ministry because there is not one aspect of my life that it has notstrengthened. In conclusion girls’ ministry is an important factor in a church society and growing youthgroups. Girls’ ministry gives the opportunity for girls to handle their problems and grow in theirrelationships in a healthy and Godly environment. It encourages scriptural based maturation intowomanhood, and gives opportunities for older women in the church to serve and mentor theyounger generation. The girls’ ministry provides a place to build the relationships that cannot bebuilt with male youth pastors in today’s society, and gives a sense of family to those who areinvolved. The relationships and encouragement found in girls’ ministries provide a foundationfor a healthy lifelong relationship with God and others.
Foster 7 Works CitedCook, Amber Louise. “The Denied Calling: A Look at the Role of Women in the Southern Baptist Church.” LOGOS: A Journal of Undergraduate Research 3 (Sept. 2010): 198- 205. Academic Complete. Web. 11 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=60845355&site=ehost-live>.Csinos, David M. “Will Boys Be Boys and Girls Be Girls? Correcting Gender Stereotypes Through Ministry with Children.” Priscilla Papers Spring 2010: 23-28. Academic Search Complete... Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=4d1f6d9d- b260-4de3-b883- 52acd4ab0da8%40sessionmgr114&vid=3&hid=104&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2 ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=50299106>.Davis, Jimmie L. Girls’ Ministry Handbook. Nashville: LifeWay, 1999. Print.Johns, Loretta, and Janice Watson. “Leadership Development of Women Preparing for Ministry.” Journal of Research on Christian Education 15.2 (2006): 111-142. Academic Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=24170869&site=ehost-live>.Johnson, Kate A. “A Bridge to Meaning and Ministry.” Mutuality 17.3 (2010): 4-6. Academic Complete. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=55639618&site=ehost-live>.
Foster 8Kageler, Len. “A CROSS NATIONAL ANALYSIS OF CHURCH BASED YOUTH MINISTRIES.” Journal of Youth Ministry 8.2 (2010): 49-68. Academic Complete. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=51910893&site=ehost-live>.Lind, Christopher. “What Makes Good Ministry Good? Women in Ministry.” Theology & Sexuality: The Journal of the Institute for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality 11.3 (2005): 65-88. Academic Complete. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu- sche.galileo.usg.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=17466656&site=ehost-live>.“Sex & Gender.” Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity 20.9 (2009): 44. Academic Complete. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=27714055&site=ehost-live>.