Bridging the Gap: Reaching the Next Generation of Women
- 2011 22 Jan
It was one of those "ah-ha!" moments for me. I was sitting in our women's Bible study listening to one of the members share a deep heartache.
She was retired and single. Her struggle pertained to a man she had pinned her heart on. He wasn't a Christian, but they shared common interests and were neighbors. She was lonely and tired of being alone. She would go out with him to do activities that she normally would have viewed as taboo -- but she didn't want to lose him.
Truth be told, he really wasn't all that nice to her. But she couldn't shake the need for him. With a tearstained face she looked up at us and said, "I am sixty-some years old! Will I ever get over this?!"
At the time, my hubby was a youth pastor. Subtract a few years from her saga, and it was the same kind of drama I was helping girls sort through every day. It was in that moment that I realized us gals really aren't all that different from each other. At various ages and stages our struggles might be packaged a little differently, but at the root we all wrestle the same enemy of our soul.
As a teenager, I was privileged to attend the annual women's retreat of a sister church. The blessings from that very first retreat beckoned me back again and again. At those retreats I got great perspective:
I saw there's more to life than the fleeting pursuits of youth. In fact, many women wrestle with scars from choices made during their teens and twenties. Young women need to understand that the choices they make today affect their tomorrow.
I saw godly women in a setting far more conducive to authenticity than just Sunday church. I watched them share their struggles. I saw them pray for each other. I saw them break before the truth of God's Word.
I was given a broader vision of what it looks like to be a godly woman, and that gave me something to reach for. At those retreats I was wrapped in God's love on a spiritual level, but also on a practical level as my big sisters in Christ listened, laughed and prayed with me. It was there I found the grace to let God begin the process of peeling away layers of childhood wounds so that I could step into womanhood in freedom.
As a teen I fell in love with women's ministry because I so powerfully felt God's love at those retreats. Today, connecting the generation gap within the church is a passion for me because it so intensely affected my life.
The way I see it, multi-generational ministry is not only fruitful, it's also part of how God designed us women to work! Titus 2:3-5 says,
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (NIV)
This kind of community isn't just some feel-good-club for exchanging recipes. We were called to this mentoring relationship so that "no one will malign the word of God." It was only through real life examples of women who were lovingly submissive to their husbands (even in difficult seasons) that I learned what it meant to be a respectful wife. It was life-on-life relationships that taught me what self-control and purity really look like. It was through older women being honest, real and even vulnerable with me that helped me learn what it meant to be a godly woman. In turn, I have done my best to have a life open to the younger women God has placed within my sphere of influence.
Every generation has had its trials and temptations. But the stakes are mighty high for the young women in our world today. And there's no doubt in my mind that right under your nose there is a girl in need of some love, truth and hope! Here are some practical tips for giving your H.E.A.R.T. away to the girls in your life:
Hospitality - opening the door of your home will open the "heart door" of many! Offer your home for:
- A college/youth girls' ministry event.
- The college girl who needs a place to do laundry.
Encouragement - the priceless treasure that doesn't cost a penny! Bless a young woman with:
- A note of God's comfort during a hard time.
- Applaud her God-given uniqueness.
- Cheer her on in a path of purity, obedience, and dedication to God.
Authenticity - the unpretentiousness that gives others freedom to be themselves. Be "real" by:
- Sharing your journey, struggles and all.
- Being more concerned for those around you than for your own image.
- Let the hurt of others touch you by sincerely empathizing with them.
Resources - your arsenal of God-taught wisdom. Share truth by:
- Reading/discussing a Christian book together.
- Inviting her into your world through a conference or Bible study
- Prepare files with Scripture, statistics, and resources for issues God has helped you with (depression, sexual purity, etc.) so you can readily pass on wisdom.
Time - a gift of true sacrifice that will prove your love to others. Give your time by:
- Coming to youth/college meeting shows you're available.
- Understanding relationships with this generation take time to develop trust.
- Investing in connecting "their way" via email, facebook, texting, etc.
May God bless you abundantly as you seek to be His vessel of love, truth and hope to the young women He places in your path!
January 22, 2011
April Motl and her husband, Eric, minister at their church in Southern California where he is a pastor on staff. April is the founder of In His Eyes Ministries; a teaching ministry devoted to helping women see their life from God's perspective. For more information about the ministry visit www.InHisEyesMinistries.com.