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.