As a leader of teen girls you know this age group doesn't fall into rigidly–structured programs like younger girls. Teen girls share their opinions of club format. So how do you react? Don't take it personally; consider it their investment in the club. However, if their comments have you wondering how to keep up attendance, try these five suggestions.
Listen to them. A component of keeping up attendance is listening to girls' suggestions. Listening tells them you are interested in making it their club instead of a club they attend. This alleviates pressure off of you to make the club fun. The girls cannot complain if it is a club they helped create. Establish a schedule permitting completion of the curriculum, but give them options on the order, and let them plan fun outings. Accomplish goals together that were established together.
Work with parents. Girls carry their parents' views. Utilize parent or guardians' influence by establishing rapport. Show parents the club is more than a holding place for their children while they attend their activities. Help them see the club as a one–on–one time of spiritual training for their daughter. Do this by meeting with them to go over curriculum topics. Encourage their participation in encouraging their daughters to bring journals, wear uniforms, and discuss topics covered each week. Hold an open house for parents to showcase girls' accomplishments or invite them to a specific club discussion. When parents see the importance, the girls will too.
Create a Haven. Is your club just another extracurricular activity, or a haven where girls destress from hectic schedules? Strike a compromise between achievement and the Titus 2 principle of mentoring girls. There is no easy answer for striking this balance; be creative and do what works for your club and church. This provides girls with the connection they crave and the teaching they need.
Inspire Harmony. Do cliques run rampant in your club? If so, place yourself in the flip–flops of girls who don't fit in. Is your club driving them away? It is not easy to squelch divisions among teen girls, but important to set precedence. Discuss how to create an environment open to all girls. Cliques may still form, so break things up by splitting girls into assigned groups for discussion or memorization sessions. Or assign partners in "getting to know you" activities. Inspire empathy and encourage an accepting environment.
Consider your Motivations. It is important to realize the girls take your lead. If you lead the club from a feeling of duty, the girls will attend out of duty. Or if you hold unrealistic expectations of girls looking up to you and loving you then you are setting yourself up for disappointment and burnout. Seeking personal gratification detracts from the focus of "relationship with Christ" as the goal of the club. Sincere intentions of creating relationships and supporting girls' relationships with Christ will lead to sincere efforts on the girls' part.
Sherrie is Friends and Girls Only Specialist for the National Missionettes Ministries Department. Have questions? E–mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.