A Woman in Youth Ministry

Gina Abbas has published a book through the Youth Cartel titled, “A Woman in Youth Ministry.” Gina contacted me over a year ago telling me about this book, and I was stoked!  There are very few books about women in youth ministry, and as Gina points out in her book, the few that are, are written by men.

Trust me–I’ve purchased every book out there about being a woman in youth ministry, and although I treasure them, few are as practical as Gina’s.  What I love about this book is that it isn’t a book of whining or joking about all the problems we face.  I also love that it isn’t a book of exegetical arguments for the role.  It’s a book of practical, real-life stories and advice. Advice that Gina has been sharing on her blog that inspired me as a young youth pastor.

Here are some of the best excerpts:

Gina empowers women to not only overcome male-dominated church structures, but even work from within them. Gina is appreciative of the churches she has worked in that were hierarchical, but also knew when to move on.

In really conservative (male-dominated) evangelical circles that hold a very narrow hierarchical or complementarian theological view of women in ministry, leaders still always find a way to lead.

So yeah, the church can call us “directors,” “coordinators,” “pastors,” or whatever title they prefer. But never forget that whether you’re paid, volunteer, or bivocational; whether you’re single or married, God can use you as a woman in youth ministry.

Being boycotted for being a girl kinda sucked, but I sipped my coffee and reminded myself that it was their hurt speaking.

Gina gives advice on looking for a position in youth ministry…which is difficult.

So my advice is don’t take on a ministry role or volunteer position that ends up being the equivalent of singing up to play baseball without every being allowed to bat. It’s a disappointment I could have avoided if I’d spent more time discerning my own theology and leadership style. But I was never taught how to do that in Bible college, nor did a ministry mentor ever talk me through that process.

I wouldn’t have had any of the youth ministry positions I’ve landed without being willing to move or try something outside of my won theological framework.  Like any job or new ministry venue, you have to knock on a lot of doors and sometimes step out in faith, trusting that it’s going to be a good long-term match.

Gina doesn’t let women get away with being called bossy, but empowers them to be bolder!

I get the whole “I’m an introvert–please don’t ask me to pray out loud” thing. But when women are given a chance to lead or an opportunity to speak up, we need to shrug off our insecurities and lead–and lead well.

Gina gives great advice that’s not just for mothers, but translatable for anybody who wants to balance a healthy life apart from ministry.

If your senior pastor and ministry colleagues rarely take their day off, come in every Saturday, and have terrible boundaries with their time, watch out. It’s going to be difficult for you to have a healthy work schedule with set times for ministry and protected time for yourself, your marriage, and your family. Pay attention. If your colleagues are terrible workaholics, it will be tough for you to maintain good boundaries on your own time.

Gina’s book is incredibly well-resourced. She has links and alludes to many different sources for information pertaining to all topics. Gina also asked people–including myself–to contribute parts to the book. I love it, because people of all backgrounds are represented in the voices!  I really appreciated Rachel Blom’s excerpt, because Rachel is typically very professional in her writing, but she was very vulnerable and shared a great story.

Relational ministry is bae. If you haven’t heard the term bae before, it stands for “before anything else.”  Relational ministry is so incredibly important. We can plan events and preach awesome sermons all day long, but relationships are what make everything click. –Chelsea Peddecord

Please, people, if you’re dead set on having a godly young man be your new youth pastor, then express it clearly in your job description so I don’t waste my time dreaming of how I can love and serve your teenagers and their families. –Morgan Schmidt

Therefore, I need to trade my lack of self-confidence for the image of God who says to me, “I have created you to lead with a beauty that is bold and not bossy; a strength that is secure and not sassy; a valor that is vibrant and not vindictive.” Leading with courage and assurance will be contagious to everyone who watches you lead. Trust me–this is why look to the women who lead me. –ME!

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