The Real Life Visual Aid I Needed to Enter Ministry

Kara Powell | Mar 16, 2011

Yesterday I posted an article from Slate magazine entitled “Psyched out Sexism” about the power of male and female role models in students’ pursuit (or avoidance) of math and science. Reading the article and its interesting research, I couldn’t help but think about my own journey into youth ministry.

As a high school junior, I ran for student body president of my high school and lost. At that time, my fantastic youth pastor, Mike DeVito (now from the National Network of Youth Ministries; some of you probably know him) told me, “One day you’re going to catch a vision for youth ministry.” I was somewhat open to that but there was one problem: I knew no single woman who was doing youth ministry full-time.

I did end up meeting a woman doing full-time youth ministry, in a church bathroom of all places. She was the real life visual aid I needed.

Throughout college, I was so hungry for female role models that I would literally drive two or three hours just to have coffee with another woman doing youth ministry.

Odds are guaranteed that not all of us reading this blog have the same theology of women in leadership. Regardless of your theology, my encouragement is to do whatever you can to develop women in leadership within whatever theological boundaries you deem appropriate. If those boundaries stop at small group leaders, then recruit and develop the best female small group leaders possible. If those boundaries stop at teaching, then recruit and develop the best female teachers you can. If those boundaries stop at senior pastor, then…well, you get the picture.

As a mom of two daughters and one son, this article has me thinking both as a parent and youth leader about the need for kids to be exposed to role models of both genders. Wouldn’t it be great if the church was known as a people bursting with diverse leaders, creatively investing in the lives of kids?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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