Sometimes student ministries live in 2 extremes. The church calendar is so full that families are exhausted and/or frustrated because there isn’t adequate margin for family time. In this extreme, the staff isn’t modeling healthy rhythms for being in the harvest or for prioritizing family time. The other extreme is the staff overcorrects being “program driven” by having nothing on the calendar besides one summer camp. In this extreme, many families miss the modeling or positive peer pressure that being around different ages, stages and even other families of the same season provides. Great conversations and unexpected friendships happen when different generations get together when the body meets together occasionally to frequently rather than rarely to never.
Most times extremes aren’t great. Unless it is extra fudge sauce on a molten lava chocolate cake.
I don’t have the perfect calendar formula for you- ie, once a quarter do this or that. Your calendar depends more on your church culture, leadership, and what your community truly needs. I would suggest that if the event doesn’t have a purpose- it is not needed. Perhaps you were given a calendar of girls ministry events that someone did before you. Meet with your student pastor and ministry team and talk through that existing calendar. What was the purpose for some of these events? What was the outcome or overflow afterwards? Be gracious and never slander or laugh at the person who preceded you. Show honor- girls who compete and whine don’t win. (that was just a little something extra). Ask if there were any moms or volunteers who loved or lead the way in planning any of these events. Meet with these women and ask the same two questions. When you are a new a posture of learning and humility is a beautiful thing.
Perhaps you were given the gift of no calendar. While this may seem more daunting, trust me…it is a gift. There are no hurt feelings because you stop doing a certain event when you start from scratch.
As I prayed for opportunities for moms and daughters to serve together, the Lord clearly showed me was that I was to teach and give the girls opportunity to obey James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” We would primarily focus on the widows. The church I serve in actually has a ministry to the widows called WINGS (widows in God’s service). I scheduled a meeting with the lady who was in charge that year. The conversation was beautiful and not what I expected. I assumed she would ask us (moms, leaders, girls) to help them with physical needs such as decorating their Christmas trees or planting flowers in their yards. But, she said that their husbands would always make a big deal of their birthdays- “Our husbands gave us flowers, our favorite restaurants, cards and it is too expensive to go to a nice restaurant every time it is someone’s birthday.” So, they did a monthly inexpensive lunch for everyone who had a birthday that month. I said, “We are going to throw a huge birthday party!” I left that day with a new friend whom I still love and talk to. I also left with no idea how I would do this or who would help…have I mentioned it was my first month?
While on staff, I met with a different small group leader weekly. The next week I met with a High School leader. She shared her story and I asked what her profession was and what she enjoyed. She owned an event decor business. An event decor business?! I shared my conversation and desire to give a birthday party to bless the sweet saints in our church. She cried. And, yes I did too. She was thrilled to “use her gifts to bless.” She had never “connected this gift with serving.” And, what a gift it was.
We sent birthday invitations to all the ladies. She designed each table to be different, and if your birthday was a certain month you sat at that table. For example, January had snowmen and fake snow and everyone with a January birthday squealed and sat there. The May table was filled with vases of different sizes and fresh flowers. The moms and daughters who volunteered sat with their birthday month too. I placed conversation starters on the table like: “What is the best bday present you ever received?” “What is your favorite birthday dessert?”
We played games, laughed, and everyone made new friends. I asked one of the ladies to tell us her story. It was captivating as she talked of the faithfulness of God to her through her then 90 years. A junior girl also shared her story. It was moving to hear her honor the lady who shared and also to share of her active faith. Of course we also sang happy birthday and cut cake.
The purpose of that event was to bless the widows. It was also a chance for the moms and daughters to serve together, honor widows, and grow in the gift of hospitality. I prayed that as the girls now knew names that hugs and opened doors would happen so regularly and easily on Sunday morning that friendships would happen and wisdom would be shared from the older generation and a spark to make your life count would be caught from the younger.
Cross-generational ministry is biblical and beautiful. An unexpected reason and purpose was that a small group leader used her gift and it was SO much better than anything I could have planned. We made this an annual mom and daughter event, and our girls and moms loved it as much as the ladies did.
Look at your church calendar, whether it is full or empty and pray that it only be filled with opportunities that will further the kingdom and refresh the hearts of the saints.
I lovingly dedicate this post to Bobbie Taylor. She shared her story for our first WINGS birthday party, and she went to be with Jesus this summer. She is a beautiful example to me of a life lived full of love for Jesus and others.
Photo Attributes: Prestonwood Women's Ministry Facebook Page.