I've been reading The Good Girl Revolution over the weekend and will be posting a review of it in the coming days. Due to all the issues that young people face today, having to contend with an overly sexualized society and made to feel bad about being good, it's no wonder there is so much depression and despair among our youth. But I can't help but to probe a bit deeper into the disconnect between those who should be our role models and those who actually are--if this is a core issue with regard to this dilemma. In fact, the problem is not just within pop culture where young people admire the the Paris Hilton's and Brittany Spears' for their trendy clothes and rebellious spirit, the problem may also exist within the church. In what I'm about to say in no way suggests that the evangelical community is perpetuating the problem of sexualization, it's a different problem but is at its foundation fundamentally the same...a lack of appropriate role models.
Let me first begin by saying that I understand and value the existence of powerful youth ministries, and I'm familiar with many leaders in this area who are doing marvelous work. But....yes, there's a but. I can't help but wonder if the existence of youth ministry is in some way preventing the older women from having a Titus 2 influence on the younger women in the church. And this is a 2 way street...maybe the older women just aren't interested in influencing the younger generation. That's a problem.
I've attended a lot of women's ministry events over the years, and only a few have had a focus on the older women relating to the much younger women. We spend a lot of time talking about how we need to bridge the generational gaps, but often we end up not pursuing anything with the much younger women not involved in women's ministry. The excuse is that they are involved in youth ministry. It's not our job. They don't think we're cool. We're too old. We do things differently. Change how we do women's ministry? I think not. These are some of that attitudes, conscious or unconscious, that impact our inability to reach the younger women in the church.
For the biblically instituted ministry between women to occur, access needs to be granted and coordinated within the local church. Younger women (teens, high school, college) should not be viewed as aliens to the women's ministry, as too immature to be involved. No, the women's ministry should view their role as equipping young women for successful, godly living in all areas and spheres of life. From dating to homemaking, cultural issues to biblical studies, older women need to be actively influencing other women, cultivating an environment where positive and significant role models are readily found.
With this view of ministry in mind, women's ministry had to change. No longer can it be exclusively about the social activities and daytime bible studies. Engaging the young women means engaging their world, knowing everything about it and being ready to give an answer to them for the hope we have in Christ. It's about knowing theology and engaging cultural understandings of God and spirituality. It's about knowing the self...the sinful nature and our need for a savior, and how man seeks continuously to be autonomous from God's sovereign hand. In other words, women's ministry has to broaden her understanding in order to broaded her audience. Leadership teams need to invite younger, godly women to help bridge the generational gaps (intellectually/functionally) and youth ministry needs to encourage the development of young women in the context of women's ministry. Some churches might even consider a youth women's leader who is also a part of the women's leadership team. The bottom line is, if women's ministry wants to continue having a real impact on the lives of women into the future, it must consider new avenues of action.
This is a topic I often speak about. Should you have any interest in this message being communicated to your women's ministry, please contact me to arrange for a time. firstname.lastname@example.org