Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Value of Ministry to the species known as GIRL

My friend, Neely, has a blog called More than Gossip, which highlights ministry to girls and female students. She asked me to be a guest blogger for her, so here goes:

First: thanks to Neely for asking me to blog…I love her book: 99 Things Every Girl Should Know. I didn’t read it for me. I read it for my ministry, for my family, and to increase my knowledge. As a lead pastor, and as a father of an incredible, athletic, academic eleven year old girl, and as the husband of an amazingly strong, intelligent woman, I can only describe my take on this new movement known as girls ministry with the word: THRILLED.

Is it really a new movement? You’d think that wouldn’t be the case, since girls have been around, you know, forever. Consider the traditional mindset: “reach the guys and the girls will come.” That’s actual ministry advice that I’ve received over the years. Multiple times. I hear Pastors to Men talk with incredible fervency that ministry to dudes is the only thing that Jesus would really be interested in. Reach the studs, and the doughy eyed chick-lettes will traipse along behind. Can there be any more dismissive view?

But Jesus was an amazing value-giver to women. The cultural appropriateness of males and females traveling together was nil when Jesus was on earth, and so he didn’t choose female travel partners, and his disciples were male. This makes sense. He did exactly the right thing (as if you needed another example of Jesus making a good choice). But Jesus valued women more than any single leader that we have record of up until his arrival on planet Earth. He included women in his ministry: He taught both men and women. He personally ministered to several women. He raised a girl from the dead. He disclosed his role as Messiah first to the woman at the well. He revealed himself post-resurrection to women first, and trusted them to deliver the information to the men, who were, by the way, in hiding.

In all of these ways, Jesus was counter-cultural, and modeled ministry to girls. That’s why I’m thrilled. I get excited when I see the Church (capital C) seeking to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

Here’s a quick primer:
To think that only guys have God’s call on their lives for impact or ministry is a tradition that goes back to Genesis 3. It’s the effect of the fall, it’s the curse of sin. But in the church, we’re to go back further, and to see the effects of sin rolled back all the way to Genesis 1. That’s where God created both male and female in His image. That’s where God called both male and female to subdue the earth, to steward its bounty. That’s where God called both male and female to reproduce, to fill the earth and multiply. To hear some preachers talk, you’d think it was Adam’s job to rule, and Eve’s job to reproduce. But God called both, to both.

What this means at my church, (and what it should mean in yours): Speak life into your girls. Speak God’s call over them. Give them opportunities to serve, to share, to speak, and to develop their full potential in the Lord. Invest in your female leaders, just as you invest in male leaders. Try really hard not to use language or jesting that equates femininity with weakness. (There is a whole host of “girlie” language out there that serves as fun-fodder, ie. “You throw like a GIRL.” Why is 'girl' in that context synonymous for LAME? Did you not see the Women’s cup final this year? “You kick like a GIRL” ought to be a mark of strength and skill, and you can help change that context).

In short, I challenge you to believe in your girls.
Because you know Jesus does.


Anonymous said...

I wish Overlake and other Evangelical churches had women elders.

Scully230 said...

I am so grateful, as a woman, but mostly as a mother of 2 girls(and 1 boy)to hear this said. I think it is so sad that in this day and age there are people or clergy that would follow some insane idea that the women will follow the men. What about the single mothers that don't have a man to follow. I am married, but I guarantee you that if I don't like the church we were attending we will be looking else where and have done so many times. I am sure there are other families that are the same. You see my hubby follows these rules:
1. if momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy!
2. The best way to measure the success of a man is by the smile on his wife's face.
He doesn't do this because I demand it that way, but because he was raised that way. Also, just so you know, a lot of families are looking for a place where their kids can feel happy and grow in their Christianity. We have looked for many churches to fulfill this for our kiddos. We are so lucky to have found Overlake Christian Church where our kids are happy, but we love it as well. Thanks Pastor Mike for all that you and the wonderful youth pastors do.