Note: You might want to watch this episode of Let’s Talk Youth Ministry before or after reading today’s post to get a broader sense of the context.
Whether or not I’ll cast a vote to put the first female in the oval office in a few months remains to be seen, but when it comes to creating a youth ministry culture that is female-friendly…I vote YES!
I don’t know the precise stats, but conventional wisdom suggests that most youth groups are made up of roughly 60% female and 40% male attendees. While that’s not a massive divide, it’s big enough to take notice. Couple this with the fact that most youth ministries are led by men, and it’s easy to identify some potential tension points that may exist in many of our youth ministries. Here are just a few:
- Bible character studies overwhelmingly focus on males. Using the defense that there simply aren’t as many females in Scripture to choose from doesn’t cut it.
- Stories, object lessons, video clips and other aspects of the lesson are often presented with guys in mind or from a male perspective.
- Games are often overly physical and favor guys.
- Special events and activities may be designed largely for the male population of your youth group.
- The youth room decor is often more masculine.
In our youth ministry at Saddleback Church, we are working hard to combat the male-dominated culture we can easily slip into. Here are a few things we’ve done:
- We stay mindful of the issues I listed above.
- We make sure our volunteer team is made up of roughly the same guy/girl ratio as the students who attend.
- We ask female students and volunteers to speak into virtually every lesson, game, and event we plan.
- We refuse to get defensive when a female points out something that made her feel uncomfortable, undervalued, overlooked, or marginalized.
But the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that 50% of our paid and intern youth staff at Saddleback Church are females. Women teach about half of the time, they lead significant portions of our ministry, and we diligently wave a banner – both subtly and not-so-subtly – that women are gifted, called, and passionate about youth ministry. If 60% of our audience is made up of girls, this seems like a no-brainer.
Don’t assume your youth ministry is female-friendly.
Don’t assume girls in your youth group have plenty of female role models.
Don’t assume they know God is just as likely to call them to ministry as he is the boys.
Don’t assume they feel safe, secure, valued, and understood.
If you are a guy, surround yourself with wise women to help you lead.
After all…60% of your group will thank you.