In April of this year, we’ll be holding the second Women in Youth Ministry Campference. It’s an awesome time for women leaders in youth ministry to connect with others, grow, and exhale. But it may not be clear for everyone why such a conference matters, or why it’s even needed.
As women who do youth ministry, we have a different position than men. We run into different problems, have other challenges, and unique needs.
The reality is that women are a minority in youth ministry. That’s not just a fact we know from statistics, it’s evident from every youth ministry conference you attend. The men outnumber the women at least two to one, and that’s not dismissing the female spouses of youth pastors who are present.
The position of women in the church in general is disputed, and that’s no different in youth ministry. As females, we regularly encounter people who feel we don’t belong in the position we’re in. And as much as you can respect other people’s theological positions, battling those opinions and constantly going against the flow can wear you out.
Also, because we’re a minority, it brings a certain solitude. One of the remarks we kept hearing after the first Campference was that the women met other females in youth ministry for the first time; leaders who really ‘get it’. There’s power in community.
Our challenges are different as well, even aside from sometimes having to fight for our right to even be there. Many of us combine a family with youth ministry and as we all know, that reality is different for men as well in comparison. We struggle with wanting to be the perfect mom, while doing our job. We want to be the perfect spouse and take care of our husband, while doing our job. We juggle a lot of balls and try not to drop one.
And how many conferences do you know that invite you to bring your partner and then actually mean your husband? I’ve seen conferences and gatherings aimed at (youth) pastors where activities for spouses were not very…manly. Plus, you know, my husband has a fulltime job, in sharp contrast to many female spouses of male youth pastors.
Other women are single. Sure, there are single male youth pastors as well but statistics show they’re far fewer than single women leaders. Again, this brings certain challenges. Heather Lea Campbell has written some posts about dating as a youth pastor, and the reality is both hilarious and truly challenging at the same time.
Then there’s the fact that we approach and experience ministry different than men do. Which is fine, because we’re created differently by our Creator (and He knew what He was doing!). But again, many manuals, books, methods are aimed at guys doing ministry. Our struggles are often different.
What I love about the Women in Youth Ministry Campference is that there’s room for us to be women. We can exhale, embrace others, swap stories and share experiences. We get to hang out with people who get what we do and who we are, because they’re in the same boat. We get to encourage each other, speak truth into each other’s lives, and pray for each other.
We get to be completely ourselves. And I love it.
If you’re a woman in youth ministry, this conference is for you. It’s held April 13-15 2016 in the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, North Carolina. Come hang out with us. I promise you: it will be worth it. You can find all the info here.