I recently returned from my denominational district annual conference.
Our particular denomination does not affirm the equality of women in leadership. Women are relegated to certain roles, but cannot hold “elder” responsibilities of teaching, leading, or preaching.
Denominational leaders choose to use a very few selected verses such 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 as the basis for their position.
While publicly this policy would appear to only affect churches who would like to have female lead pastors or women who are clearly called into vocational ministry, I witnessed how these views trickle down and can impact youth ministry.
At our conference, we had a youth leader luncheon. Approximately 20-25 youth workers were present and not a single female.
I wonder why?
Though technically, and I suppose “legally” women can serve as youth pastors (although they would have to be called “Directors” I believe) it is clear that our denomination and a few others like it simply do not equate the call, giftedness, and spiritual authority of women the same as men.
Some Christian colleges affiliated with these denominations struggle as to why the enrollment of females into ministry departments continues to decrease.
Oh, I don’t know..perhaps its because they will not be able to find a job in ministry within that denomination, or if they are lucky enough to get a position they know and feel that they will not be treated as equal.
And we wonder why so many gifted women are flocking to other denominations or using their gifts and talents in the “secular” world instead.
When it comes to youth ministry, I feel that many youth programs are severely hurting due to a lack of women in leadership.
If a youth pastor can rally enough female support from volunteers (which is a good thing) and/or if his wife happens to have time and passion to work with the girls in the group, then it may work out.
But ,to be honest, how many vocational women have the time to really invest in the girls of their church’s youth ministry?
Additionally, though these female volunteers may be great, is there more benefit from having a trained, called, and passionate female in that role?
My wife is great working with our high school girls. She pours what little extra time or energy she has after long work days investing in these teenagers.
I would say my wife has a sense of purpose and “calling” for these specific girls. She loves them sincerely and intentionally.
But if you were to ask her if she feels “called” to youth ministry, the answer would be no.
The truth is that she is involved now because of me. If and when my calling and career changes, I would imagine hers would as well. I could be wrong, but I don’t think she would continue to volunteer her time working with teenage girls.
Now, you may have wonderful volunteer female leaders who are truly “called” in life-long youth ministry.
However, how much time do they actually have to invest in the lives of these teens? To what extent are they able to pour their very lives into these students? What if they are college students helping out, have a full-time job, or have their own family to take care of?
And if you happen to have many women actively involved in leadership, let me aske you a question….could you spare a few? Really, send them my way!
It’s a no-brainer to realize that females add a different, necessary, and often overlooked dimension to the ministry and leadership of a youth program.
They think of things that most guys would never think of. In my experience, women bring a sense of compassion, wisdom, and spiritual fervor often unparalleled with men. We tend to be goal-oriented and agenda focussed. Women have an uncanny ability for building intentional relationships and investing themselves in conversations. Not to mention the giftedness so many of them have whether in teaching, vision casting, administration, counseling, etc….
I make no alterations in my affirming of women in leadership and a women’s equal role in ministry. I have attached a great thesis from prominent scholar N.T Wright on some hermeneutical, theological, and contextual interpretations on this subject.
But let me come back to the original intent (and title) of the blog.
I realize there are many denominations, churches, and youth programs out there who have women in lead roles. Good for you. We have a great group of girls and young women in our youth group that I hope and pray that one day many will be serving in a local church in a full leadership capacity. If I ever have a daughter, my prayer is for her to have that freedom and affirmation as well.
For those of you who know of, or are a part of a youth group with female “youth pastors” let me ask you a few questions that I would love to get feedback on.
Do women in youth ministry easily fit into traditional roles and job descriptions such “high school youth pastor” or “junior high youth pastor”
Do churches need to create unique roles to fit the personality, calling, and giftetndess of women? Examples could be, but certainly not limited to:
Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Pastor of Discipleship (a.k.a girls ministry)
Director of Outreach or Mission
Please respond to the questions below and provide as much or as little info as you would like
1) What exactly is your role and title?
2) How do you perceive yourself to be viewed by the students and/or community? *Especially if you are working with a male youth pastor
Our church has a woman in leadership. She is tremendously gifted and called and our local church community affirms her calling. And yes, we call her “Pastor”