A Note from Chris Adams: Women’s ministry and girls ministry are closely related. Teenage girls today are the women’s leaders of tomorrow. And they can even begin to serve and lead now alongside you now. Leslie Hudson ministers to girls in White Bluff, Tennessee and shares what she has learned as a women’s leader who invests in the lives of teen girls as well. Part 2 of this series will include practical ideas for how you can begin to connect your women’s ministry to girls ministry.
By Leslie Hudson
I began working with the leadership of my church’s women’s ministry fifteen years ago. One of the first things I felt led to do was to be a conduit between women and girls. So I started teaching high school girls Sunday School and helping out in any girls ministry activities.
At first I just wanted them to see a woman who was passionate about God’s Word, full of love, confidence, and hope, and willing to share life with them. This simple goal worked for a while.
But then I got a group of girls who attached themselves to me; they clung to me. I wasn’t just their Sunday School teacher. I wasn’t just a speaker. I was more than just an older sister, mentor, or discipler…I was a back-up mom.
The role came as a shock to me because I never needed a back-up mom. My mother was amazing; she loved God and raised me to do the same. She kept me in church and was bold enough to correct me when I was wrong (one of many examples: I was grounded on my 18th birthday). She loved me tirelessly and gave me what I needed to be an adult, a wife, a mom, and a leader. It took me too long to realize my mom was the exception.
Many girls don’t have amazing moms. Their moms are frazzled, hurting, and broken. They are yearning for the same things as their daughters—the attention of men, the approval of women, and the joy of earthly life without the heartache and pain that comes from it. Many moms act like their teenage daughters.
So when I had these high school girls asking me things like, “Why do you teach us to submit?” “How do you know what purity is?” and “Isn’t it okay to lie if it’s for someone’s own good?” I wanted to ask them, “Why didn’t your mother teach you this?”
Maybe it was because…
…their mothers didn’t know.
…their mothers didn’t care.
…their mothers didn’t believe in Jesus.
So I found myself as a back-up mom—leading them according to God’s Word, loving them unconditionally, and being willing to tell them the truth even when they didn’t want to hear it.
But I can’t reach them all because they need so much.
- They need to know what God’s Word says and how to study it themselves.
- They need someone to encourage them to follow their dreams within reality. (Yes, you can try to be a professional dancer, but you shouldn’t go $100,000 in debt for it.)
- They need to know how to clean a house, cook a few simple meals, and handle money.
- They need to understand the difference between a need and a want and live within the drama that is truly afforded to a situation.
- They need to know you can be a Jesus-loving woman and still have fun, be cute, and have friends.
- They need to see that being a wife and mom is hard work. You can never do it perfectly, and without Christ you can’t do it well at all.
- They need to know that adulthood is not all stress, hard work, and heartache. Life really can, and should be, better after high school.
- They need to know what the words salvation, love, and hope mean. They need to see it lived out.
They need you—women who love the Lord, love others, and have a passion for women’s ministry. They’re girls now, but they will need to start the transition into your women’s ministry while they’re still teenagers.
They need you. You can do it. Not only is being a back-up mom an extension of our role as women’s ministers but also as “older women” (Titus 2:3-5).
Check back on May 18 for part 2 of this article and get some great ideas for how to start reaching out to these teen girls.
Leslie Hudson lives in White Bluff, Tennessee, where she ministers to girls through teaching, speaking, and being a back-up mom. She continues her communication with girls after they graduate through her blog. Leslie is also a freelance writer and mother of two. She is the co-author of The Mother-In-Law Trap: Avoid the Pitfalls and Enjoy your In-Laws, available here.