Guys Only – What Girls Need To Hear From You by Neely McQueen
4 Parts: I get it. You belong. You are not alone. You are needed.
Girls need you to understand their world.
They need you to counter the lies that they believe about themselves and replace it with the truth of who they are in God’s story.
There are 4 messages that girls can’t hear enough from the men in their lives.
The first message girls need to hear from you is: “I get it”
This starts with a willingness to engage in their world. You have to be willing to admit that you don’t see or feel the world the same way they do and you must make attempts to understand girl world.
How do you do this?
Ask Good Questions. Let girls tell you what it is like being a girl in your town. What are their biggest pressures? What kind of expectations are they experiencing at school? How do they feel about the conversation around body image? What do they think about their place in God’s story? Don’t forget follow up questions, really try to dive into their thoughts and feelings. You can also ask your female volunteers…just be sure to ask questions!
Don’t Minimize Their Experience. As you dive into girl world, you may find some things silly or frivolous but to a teen girl they are anything but silly. Don’t minimize what they feel because you don’t feel it yourself. Sometimes we can make light of topics such as weight or the way girls interact with each other but these are not light topics. We can’t minimize their feelings instead we need to their validate their feelings WHILE helping them towards healthier and holier responses.
“I get it”
As part of your messages consider acknowledging their pressures and give voice to their potential feelings. Each point or action step in your message can include a specific challenge for both guys and girls based on what is happening in their worlds. So simple but such a powerful way to communicate clearly that you get it.
The second message girls need to hear from you is: “You Belong.”
Everywhere girls turn they are told they are not good enough, that they don’t measure up to the standard. They are searching for a place they can belong and place that accepts them just as they are.
We can say it all we want with our words, but girls are watching for all of our non-verbal messages.
Can they SEE that they belong?
Do we communicate the same thing the world does? That in order to belong they have to meet the standard…does our youth room feel like a school cafeteria?
Does our youth ministry only showcase students who are “beautiful”?
When they show up to our programs do they see themselves? This is about what the program looks like as well as who is running it.
Consider allowing girls to be part of planning the programs in addition to leading the programs. Also, find a variety of female adult leaders who can help lead programs.
Every time you give them the microphone or give them leadership in the planning of your programs…you communicate in a way that’s louder than words that they do belong, that the youth room is a place for them, just as they are.
The world tells girls everyday (seriously, everyday) that they don’t belong. Will your youth ministry be any different?
Everyone loves a good story. A good story inspires you by allowing you to see yourself in the hero(es). A lot of the stories now told to teenage girls are based in fantasy and include vampires/werewolves. Even worse are the real life stories of Disney stars gone wild. Both of these kinds of stories can seem pretty hopeless.
In our churches we need to tell better stories. When we share stories of other females who have gone before the girls in our ministry, we inspire, but more than that, we communicate the third truth that every girl needs to hear:
“You are not alone”
We’ve told the girls in our ministry they belong by giving them a voice and including them in the programming but that is about the present. What is in their future…or what impact can they have on others…are they alone in their pursuit of faith?
There are so many stories you can tell to point girls in the right direction- here are four places to look for better stories:
The women who have impacted your life.
Tell a story of a female teacher or a youth worker who changed your life. Watch the girls’ eyes light up as they hear you talk about a significant woman in your life who isn’t your mother or wife. The thought that someone like them…could impact someone like you..is hugely inspiring.
The women of your church who inspire.
In our church, we have a group of women who decided that they could do something about human trafficking. These women were single, married, young, old, from broken families and broken pasts. Not only did these women become role models to our girls, but they showed these girls a picture of what they could become no matter what their circumstances were.
Who are women in your church who are living a story that could inspire the each of the girls in your ministry? Tell their stories or invite them to come share their stories. (The girls will be inspired…and you just might recruit a new volunteer.)
The women in past in who have shaped the Church.
Evangeline Booth, Aimee Simpleton McPherson, Mother Teresa or Florence Nightingale are just a few of the women who have impacted and shaped the Church. Women who gave their lives for the Gospel and for living out the Great Commission. When you tell their stories, the girls in your ministry will see that the Church is a PLACE for them and that they are not alone in their calling and their gifts.
The women of the Bible.
The Bible is filled with stories of women…the good, the bad and the radical. Look at your calendar, how many weeks of the year did you spend talking about men from the Bible? Paul, David, Moses, Peter, Abraham…the list goes on and on. Obviously, all of these heroes are hugely important, and our students need to learn about their lives. But let’s be careful not to overlook the heroines of the Bible. Otherwise our girls will be left wondering if they really have a place in the gospel story at all. Try bringing the story of Mary to life for your girls. A young teen girl who changed the world by obeying. Or the story of Rahab, a woman who didn’t let her past keep her from following God. Or the story of Abigail, a woman known for her intelligence and ability to bring peace. This list goes on and on. Tell their stories and inspire your girls when they see themselves in the pages of Scriptures.
Each week we get to tell a better story. A story that allows for the girls in our ministries to see that they are not alone. That there are others like them both in the past and in the present who have said yes to God’s story. These stories encourage and will move them to action.
‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. Acts 2:17,18
I am just like any youth worker out there. I’ll plan fun events with games and do crazy things, but at the end of the day what I want more than anything is for God’s Spirit to move in the lives of the teenagers I minister to in my area. According to the prophet, Joel, and later told by Peter, when God’s Spirit moves, our sons and our daughters are absolutely included in that. Which means that not only do our girls need to hear us say something, but we need to be willing to speak it.
Our final message that girls need to hear from the male youth workers in their lives is:
“You are needed”
They need to be invited to be a part of the movement of God’s kingdom.
Some of the stereotypical ways that we tease girls, or maybe even put them down, can be the very way that God uses them. We need to see their uniqueness as gifts needed for the church.
Girls can be emotional, and when the emotions start to rise there can be lots of drama. But emotions aren’t all bad. Emotions can lead people to action. Help girls find the right things to be emotional about and watch the compassion turn into action.
A few years back there was a young girl in our ministry who was struggling with the lies the world was telling her about her worth and about relationships. One day her mom came home from an event about the need for access to clean water around the world. As this mom began to share with the family about what she’d learned, her daughter became emotional about the reality of people dying everyday from unclean water. Her emotions drove her to action. In two years, she raised over $100,000 for clean water. She traveled to El Salvador with a non-profit agency to help dig a well. The following year she started her own non-profit and began speaking to other students about clean water. Her emotions were a gift. She was needed as part of the kingdom of God.
There are girls just like her in your youth ministry. Girls who need to be told that who they are and that the gifts they have are deeply needed as part of God’s movement through the church.
Here’s two ways to help your girls understand that they are needed:
Showcase Ministry Opportunities. What are the needs in your ministry, church and community? Can the girls in your ministry step up in those areas? If they can serve…show them. Highlight various ministries each week or do a series on using your gifts. Use inclusive language so that they know this is a place where they can serve.
Empower Them to Make a Difference. The girl I mentioned above felt empowered and supported by her family. She knew that she could attempt anything and that they would be on her side. Set the girls up in your ministry to succeed. Provide them with coaching and encouragement when they feel like they are failing. Plus, don’t forget to cheer for their little (and their big) successes.
Imagine what your ministry, church and community might look like if your girls began to understand that they are needed. What you imagine will become reality when you begin to tell them how important they are to the body of Christ. It starts with us.
Thanks again for caring enough about the girls in your ministry to join in this conversation! I can’t tell you how significant you are in their spiritual journey- what you do and say matters!