The Final Frontier

Not long ago, popular Christian author Annie Downs tweeted “Sometimes it feels like youth ministry is the final frontier for women in leadership.”

A friend asked me what I thought of this. To be honest, I’m not sure I agree with Annie’s premise.

When I hear the phrase “final frontier”, I think of the last unexplored area in a particular region or industry. To me, that’s not what youth ministry is for women in leadership.

Sure, as a woman in youth ministry, I get frustrated when I don’t see other youth workers that look like me. I feel alone when I walk into a local youth ministry network meeting and am one of only two women in a room full of 30 men. I find it hard to engage in conferences that have few, if any, female speakers.

Even so, I’m reluctant to claim youth ministry is the “final frontier” for women in leadership. I mean, I’ve been privileged to be mentored by women who have been doing youth ministry for decades. Given that, how can youth ministry still be the final frontier for women in leadership?

What’s more, even though I know how lonely being a female youth pastor can be, I question whether or not women in youth ministry are actually outnumbered by men. While I failed to find verifiable statistics about this, I suspect there are more PAID male youth pastors then female ones. However, if we also include unpaid youth workers and volunteers in the mix, I’m less confident that’s still the case.

Numbers aside, however, what bothers me most about this notion of youth ministry as the final frontier for women in leadership is that it steals the focus away from our actual calling.

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. When not doing ministry, she and her husband Doug can be found hiking, backpacking, and traveling.

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