Over the last six months, my reading and research has been devoted to how God and culture has wired the boys and girls in and around our local church. Books, articles, conversations, and experiences in an effort to intentionally lead our students well to the throne of Jesus. As a female, what can I do to provide a local church environment which is boy-friendly, since it is not my natural bent? As a mom-on-the-other-side of parenting, how can I best point my girls to Jesus when everything else is pointing them elsewhere?
I’ve written many blog posts about what I’ve learned and can be found by searching ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ in the search bar. This post will share what I’m going to do about what I’ve learned.
- No more plastic water bottles for convenience. We’ll use ice water dispensers AND for every field/day trip, we’ll invite students to bring a refillable BPA-free water bottle.
- We drink water or milk. There is something that happens beyond the calcium to make strong bones and a body work well. Hydration is key to making sure bodies and minds work well.
- Small groups outside of Sunday school will be offered separately for boys and girls. As much as boys are wired for competition, girls are wired for community. Girls especially respond differently when in a coed situation, so I will continue to offer a Princess Class specifically for 3rd-5th grade girls.
- Games requiring both balance (girls) and hitting a target (boys) must be mixed in with small groups. Games help students learn they belong. Girls warmup by stretching. Boys warmup by running.
- Small group leaders will be men and women of wisdom, not just older. Older youth and young adults are great for games, knowledge, and special activities, but I’m gleaning for wisdom from people the same age or older than my student’s parents who will speak God’s truth into their lives offering advice from a place of Godly wisdom that will affirm a biblical worldview.
- Bible study and the spiritual disciplines are taught and caught between 8 and 12. Every special event will include an element of learning and practicing the practices of the saints who have gone before us.
- When speaking to boys I will ask, “What would you do?” When speaking to girls I will ask, “How did it make you feel?”
- We will intentionally offer a plan for 5th grade students and their parents to share in learning conversation and holy listening skills, and where they must stay together throughout the event to encourage our students to turn to their parents and other responsible/wise adults for instruction, modeling, and ensuring that the parent-child relationship takes priority over the relationships between the child and his/her peers. We will always ensure the parents are heroes in the hearts of the students in my charge. This is a goal for next school year, so I’m talking to lots of parents, kids, counselors, clergy, and even parent’s Sunday school teachers to be sure I’m hearing their hearts, needs, and fears.
- We will engage in intentional teaching that the life of a disciple/follower of Jesus is not an easy one. No rainbows and unicorns here. We will teach of the martyrs, the first disciples of Jesus, the early and current church around the world so that when our students discover disappointment, hardship, and grief they have a Heavenly Father with a mother’s heart….they can ask for courage, strength, and perseverance in regular prayer…that just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean that God is not in it…that they can go with what they know and not with what they feel (feelings change, but knowing that God will never leave them nor forsake them is truth)…God has wired them for adventure and not with a spirit of timidity and fear…Jesus is still on the throne of Heaven and intends to be on the throne of their minds and hearts…they have skills and opportunities to make a world of difference for others and it’s not about them. God has placed within each one an inner strength to endure, to give testimony of God’s presence in their lives, and rebuke fragility. Failures in the world of meritocracy, school, and sports will come. “The willingness to fail, and then to move on with no loss of enthusiasm, is mark of character.” (Dr. Leonard Sax)
- I will continue to invite the children in our community to church on Sundays and not just the special events. Sunday is game day! Sunday is free! Sunday is Jesus, the Bible, and loving one another. Sunday is when the Body of Christ of all ages and stages gathers so I want our kids to see who’s on their side, on their team, and in their corner in life. Boys learn to be Godly men by spending time with Godly men, so I will be a pest until I get more on our team. Girls learn to be Godly women by spending time with Godly women, so I will give a platform to Titus 2 women to call back to those coming up behind them. At some point these ‘girls of the church’ will need a model for dealing with the tension of ‘becoming women of faith in Jesus.’ The same for my guys. The research says it takes 5 adults to champion a kid’s life, over time, to keep them pointed to Jesus. Reminds me of the 5 stones gathered by David to slay the giant, Goliath. David gathered 5 stones, but only 1 did the deed. I’m looking for 5 Godly men and women for each boy and girl in the ministry I’ve been called to lead…because our boys and girls need us to help them slay their giants. Who’s in?
“Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are older, they will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“Train up a child in the way they should go in Jesus and when they stray, they’ll only stray so far.” Reggie Joiner, Orange
Nicole Taylor said:
Dede, I love reading what your blog. You’ve always provided such beautiful insight into how I can create a home where my children can know and experience God! Thank you!
I also love the work that you’ve been doing on boys and girls. However, I am pondering number seven. I think you are right that boys naturally tend towards action and girls towards feelings. However, it would be a terrible mistake to leave them here. It is vitally important for each gender to broaden our capacity to understand the other. If I may be so bold, maybe even more important for boys to be able to name and communicate their feelings. This skill will serve them well throughout their lives. 🙂
DeDe Bull Reilly said:
I totally hear you, Nicole. One of the first questions that comes from curriculum is to ask about feelings, so it’s a natural response for me to just stay there. It is more of a challenge to me to also ask, “What would you do if…?” I want to remind myself to ask both questions of both genders. I’ve learned so much about my own natural bent through this research process. By the grace of the Holy Spirit I hope I’m better at speaking into kid’s lives than when I first started. Thank you for reading and responding!
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