Monday, February 20, 2012

You Want What You Know: Women and Youth Ministry

Part 1: An Apology for Women in Ministry

In my experience, it’s been much easier to preach in a Sunday morning worship service than to give a devotional at a midweek youth group. I’ve found breaking into the world of youth ministry to be much more difficult and complicated than breaking into pulpit ministry in general.

Towards the end of a forum on women in youth ministry at a Christian University, a male student stood up and said the following:

“No offense, Amanda, but if you were my youth pastor I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to you about serious stuff. I'd rather talk to a guy.”

It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. And I wish I had the chance to go back in time and share the story I am about to share now:

My first job was as the first full-time youth pastor at a church. It was a great job. I loved the people. I was given an insanely wonderful amount of free space to create a youth program. In many ways it was a dream. And then I felt urged back to school for a PhD in practical theology (with a youth ministry emphasis).

As I prepared my students for the next, not-yet-known, youth pastor I said things like, “When he or she comes…” I was surprised by people’s responses. More than one parent came to me with the question, “You mean men do this?”

My favorite response, however, was given by David, a sixteen-year-old jock and declared funny guy of the youth group. He was one of those kids that you prayed would show up at a youth event because the sheer force of his presence had a way of making people feel at ease (all the while laughing their pants off).

He pulled me aside one Sunday evening: “Pastor Amanda, no offense, but I wouldn’t ever want a guy youth pastor. Girls are so much easier to talk to.”

I share this story in order to make two points:

1)    Often times, people simply want what they are used to. When people say they don’t want a man/woman, often times you will find that they have never had a man/woman youth pastor.
2)    People need to hear different voices in the church. Often times people assume that girls need to hear from women and boys need to hear from men. While there may be some truth to that statement, it’s not the whole truth. People’s personal experiences may condition them to hear the gospel better from one person than another.

What a blessing it is to students when they are able to hear the Gospel presented from both genders on a regular basis.

1 comment:

Raul and Catie said...

Couldn't agree more! And thank you for writing these posts. I really appreciated the video you posted in the last one and took a lot of notes while watching.