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It would only take us being friends for a few hours (maybe minutes) for you to know that I have a deep passion for seeing teenage girls encounter Jesus in a real way. And in my most honest opinion I believe that the church has at times missed caring for them.

You may be surprised to know that I have often met people who wonder why I care so much about this topic. What’s the big deal anyway?

I care because I am girl. I grew up in the church and often felt like I was a not included, that because I was girl that I didn’t matter to the church.  Thankfully, I had people in my life, one of which was my youth pastor, who let me know that I belonged and that I was needed.

The reality is that I was not alone. In fact, the more I have read and explored this conversation; I have seen a sad trend of women leaving the church, one study showed that the largest group of people leaving the church were women ages 18-25.  This matters…and it should matter to us.

Another reason I really care is because the more I look to the life of Jesus, the more I see that the people on the outside always mattered to him. Specifically in the time of Jesus, women were seen as 2nd class citizens BUT Jesus seems to challenge this idea constantly. From his birth to his resurrection there are stories after stories of Jesus caring for, speaking to, healing, calling and challenging women. This was AND is mind-blowing.

So, what if we modeled our youth ministry after the life of Jesus? How would the girls in our community be impacted?

1. We would see them.

Jesus saw women. He paused and spoke to them even when they tried to go unnoticed.

2. We would care fore them.

Jesus cared for many women. He stood up for them. He healed them. He didn’t run away from the bleeding woman but cared for her in her pain. He didn’t run from the woman washing his feet instead he praised her in front of the others.

3. We would send them out.

The first people to proclaim the good news of Jesus resurrection were 2 women. He sent them out; he commissioned them to tell others the good news.

I believe that when we see, care and commission the girls in our churches like Jesus did with the women he encountered than we wouldn’t see women leaving the church anymore. In fact, I would guess we would see our youth ministries growing faster than ever before!

- Neely / @neelym

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