Before we dig into this final lie, I want to say that I am where I am today in ministry because of the youth workers in my life. Those youth workers were all men. Men who believed in me and spoke of my potential. I know firsthand the power and the influence you have in lives of the girls in your ministry. Your voice matters and the more you are aware about their life, the more you can speak to the heart of the issues. I hope that this series as helped you.
That said, let’s finish this series.
Lie #5- There is no place for me at church
There is an unfortunate trend among twenty something women in church, as we are currently seeing a large exodus of them. In 2011, Barna released a study that showed women were leaving church at a faster rate than men (this was a first). Over the past 20 years, the number of women volunteering in church dropped 31 percent. Women are leaving because they believe there is no place for them in the church.
Two years ago, I was watching an episode of GLEE and was surprised by a statement said about church. When one character was asked by friends to go to church, he said “why would I want to go to church, they have never been kind to WOMEN or gay people.” The sentenced surprised me because while I expected them (the producers of GLEE) to make a statement about the church’s response to the LGBTQ community, what I didn’t expect was for them to make a statement that clearly supports what the Barna research study showed. This confirmed to me that this feeling of not belonging in the church is felt by both female believers and non-believers.
And unfortunately, I’ve heard youth workers say things that imply that attracting girls is a secondary concern. “Get the boys and the girls will come too.” We may think that girls don’t grasp that unspoken mentality but they do. They deeply believe there is no place for them at church.
How do we help shift the trends of women leaving the church?
Be Intentional With Your Care– Stay aware of what is happening in girl world and follow up in ways that show you care. Allow for them to express their emotions and be responsive even when you don’t understand it.
Be Intentional With Your Programming- Think through your program, is it inclusive? Are the videos, games and other creative elements both girl and guy friendly. Consider during your message speaking directly to girls…this communicates that you are giving specific thought to how they might respond.
Be Intentional With Your Opportunities- Many of women in Barna’s research showed that they felt that the opportunities were limited to them as a women. This isn’t a theology conversation. It is not about titles, it is about providing places for girls with various skills and gifts to be able to use them at church. Be creative. Let them lead where they can in your setting.
When we are intentional with the girls in our ministry, they realize that there is a place for them in our churches. They won’t want to leave and in fact, they probably will be our greatest “bringers.”
How do you let the girls in your church know they belong?