Education for girls matters.

What would you give for your children to be educated well? And by your children, let’s start with those under your own roof if you have any. Does this question change when you are thinking about adolescents in your youth group? What about your neighborhood? City? The world? My oldest is just old enough for preschool. In our area preschool is not free. My husband and I had the conversation about whether this was something we could afford or not. Ultimately, we had the luxury of this being a choice and while we are stretched and had to cut back elsewhere, she is able to attend. We even try to offer a little during fundraisers to allow others scholarship money when possible.

This past week we watched Girl Rising, a film about educating girls around the world. More than that, a film about the changes that come when a girl is educated. It took not only the courage of girls but of their fathers, brothers and other men and boys around them. While is about girls, it is also about humanity and the dignity men and women extend to won another. Just a few facts from the film: There is a lower rate of death during childbirth (the #1 cause of death in girls 15-19 is childbirth), girls with 8 years of education are 4 times less likely to become a child bride, a child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive to the age of 5, 80% of all human trafficking victims are girls. For a complete list of statistics and sources check out the Girl Rising Stat sheet. For each year of education a girl receives, her status and her chance of survival as well as her chance to avoid abuse an poverty rises.

My girls will never know a world where education is not an option. Some classrooms may be better than others but still, they will be in a classroom. My responsibility is to know what is being taught, to support efforts toward reading and writing. Even more, my responsibility as a mom seeking to pass on what it means to follow Christ means that I MUST let my daughters know now that education is a privilege. That it is something that is to be used to better the world for themselves and others. That even if others do not agree with their beliefs, that no woman, no girl deserves to be born into a world where she is simply a commodity or sexual object which may be discarded on a whim. Education can break the cycle.

This is a part of our back to school conversation. We are working on what this will look like played out in our family life and our world. What about you? What would you give for all God’s children to be educated well?

Check out Girl Rising donations through 10 X 10 productions. They have partnered with several amazing organizations. If not donating here, do something. Donate, tutor, pray, advocate, educate others on the needs of girls (and boys) in many parts of the world and at home.


When did lack of training become a badge of honor?

In the last six months I have met many people longing for training in ministry. Wishing they could go to seminary. Wishing that something was offered locally.

I recall being in seminary and meeting person after person who had saved or their village had saved for nearly a decade for them to be trained and every moment in class was considered a privilege and gift. (I want to be clear, I don’t think all seminary or all trainings are the answers to better ministry but…there is wisdom in the ongoing conversation and learning from others.)

And then there is the polar opposite group I keep meeting or hearing about. There is a sort of pride that comes in holding a position of leadership with no training what-so-ever. They walk with cockiness (or sheer naivete) and talk of how “God has blessed them” and that they were “just the right person at the right time”. They also talk of getting to do things beyond what they are capable and how great that is. What is bugging me today are those who seem to think they already know everything expressing no desire for training or leadership. In fact, just the opposite.

In the last two weeks I have heard

* of a youth leader (seminary student at that but with no training in youth ministry) who thought it was perfectly appropriate to state the name of his church and that nude photos of himself had been posted with comments from students in the ministry.

* of a youth leader infriending a parent after a snarky comment online but keeping the junior high and HS daughters as friends.

* of a trip being taken with no permission slips or medical release forms at all.

* of a youth leader stating there was no need for conversation about the atonement during the Easter holidays as his youth just weren’t interested.

* of a youth leader being asked to take a denominational position and telling me that despite only having taken one course at the undergrad level and almost three years of internship and part time ministry, he was ready to pass on his wisdom.

* of a group of youth leaders being offered a conference on working with teens in crisis for 25% of the cost, in their hometown so no travel expenses, and they decided it was more beneficial to hold their weekly planning meeting and didn’t want to interrupt that schedule.

* of a college stripping down classes so that even if an admin aide with no experience in ministry had to step in as the instructor, he or she could facilitate the syllabus and assignments at the level they desire.

* That gifted students should be encouraged to study anything but ministry because there is no financial future in it and you don’t really need training anyway.

So how is all of this lack of training working for the church?

I could go on but it alternately depresses me and makes me angry. I still go to trainings. I still talk with others about their ideas and what is taking place, even when I don’t agree with them. I still believe that the blessing we have with an abundance of resources is not to be taken lightly.

Pride in a lack of training is not a badge of honor. It is a red flag with dire circumstances waiting to happen.

It also speaks volumes of how we value young people. We require training for almost every field and value what is brought to the table. This should be no different when working with adolescents, early middle and emerging adults. They too are the church and valuable beyond belief. It’s time we all started treating them as such.