by Cara Railey/ May 29, 2015
If we want to create an environment where each boy and girl in our ministry has the best opportunity to grow as a Spirit-filled disciple, we must value gender-specific mentoring and discipleship. Over the course of the week, we’ve been discussing the various reasons gender-specific discipleship is an important aspect of kids’ ministry.
First, girls and boys learn differently. Therefore for optimal learning and discipleship to occur, each gender needs the methods that work best for them. Second, girls and boys need different topics addressed. Gender-specific mentoring allows you to guide kids in your ministry through separate topics and mentorship opportunities.
Today, I want to share insights for creating gender-specific discipleship opportunities in your ministry that will help kids grow as healthy disciples. Here are six components that will maximize the opportunity of gender-specific discipleship:
Six Components of Effective Gender-Specific Discipleship
1. Discipleship and leadership training for leaders and volunteers. There’s no way you can disciple each individual child in your ministry. Your Sunday School teachers or small group leaders are on the front lines of helping kids grow. As kids’ ministry leaders, one of the best things we can do is focus on training leaders to disciple kids rather than simply focusing on how to run a program or use a curriculum. Training and equipping leaders in the areas of role modeling, accountability, bonding, and leading kids through a discipleship process is essential for creating a healthy kids’ ministry where kids are truly growing.
2. Create small group environments where discipleship can thrive. Breaking larger groups of kids down into groups of five to eight is the best way to ensure each kid has the opportunity to be discipled by a mentor who truly knows them. This also allows your small group leaders to create unique environments based on the kids in their group.
3. Make sure your content and curriculum is current and relevant for boys and girls in your ministry. It’s important that your leaders are aware of the current issues boys and girls are facing and how to provide godly counsel. Relevant content and engaging teaching methods are critically important, especially for boys who can become easily distracted or bored.
4. Host gender-specific ministry outreach events as a way to create momentum. While boys and girls in youth ministry might share the same interests, boys and girls in kids’ ministry share vastly different interests. One idea is to look for unique ways to create gender-specific outreach events that are geared specifically towards boys or girls. Hosting events that allow boys and girls in your ministry to invite their friends is a great way to build momentum throughout the year.
5. Build a system where numerous stakeholders have vested interest in your gender-specific ministry opportunities. In addition to encouraging parents to buy into the opportunity, look for staff members or key volunteers in your church who understand the value in gender-specific discipleship and ask for their help. It could be your senior pastor and his wife or a key couple in your church. One important part of building a system of stakeholders is to look for people who can help shape your ministry. Don’t just view stakeholders as people who supply money or resources, but look for people who can help shape the direction of your ministry by investing their time and energy.
6. Make sure you are taking a holistic approach to discipleship for both boys and girls in your ministry. One of the things we believe at My Healthy Church is that a healthy disciple is one who is growing in every area of life: spiritually, relationally, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. As you evaluate your gender-specific discipleship strategies, make sure to evaluate each one based on those five criteria. You might find that your strategy for boys is struggling in one area that your girls’ ministry is not. Evaluating each separately allows you to ensure that both boys and girls in your ministry are growing towards becoming healthy, Spirit-filled disciples.I’d love to know: Is your kids’ ministry currently set up for a gender-specific discipleship model? If so, what are some things you’ve learned from it? If not, what are some of the biggest challenges that are keeping you from embracing the model?