Know the Next Generation: Keys to Effective Girls Ministry

I am a girls minister. I love that I get to disciple girls and help other women disciple girls. I have been doing this at the church I serve in for almost seventeen years. Is it okay to be brutally honest two sentences into this post? Can we go ahead and just jump right in? Here it is . . . in the midst of doing life with the girls and leaders I serve with, there are times I want to quit. There! I said it! Now, the desire to quit happens for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes I’m just tired, and I know it is time for a soul-care day. Other times, it is an attack on God’s calling to disciple girls. Satan gets at me and deceives me again into thinking I can’t do what God says I can do in Him.

A few years ago, I led the worst girls leadership meeting I had ever led. To be fair, I didn’t know who I was leading, although I sure thought I did. I knew I was leading girls from my church as we organized our girls retreat, like I had done for the last twelve years. However, something went horribly wrong from the moment I assigned them tasks. I went to get them some chocolate chip cookies and cocoa (because who doesn’t want that when they are working on girls' retreat planning?). As I walked in with the platter of treats, the blood rushed from my face as I saw the girls grouped up around my whiteboard erasing my plans. I calmly said, “What’s going on, girls?” One girl boldly spoke for the rest, “No offense, but we’re going a different direction.”

Maybe you’ve been there too. Perhaps you could feel your blood boiling as mine was in that moment. “No offense?! Of course there has been an offense! I am the leader and you are not being led!” I screamed these words in my head, but thankfully, they did not stumble out of my mouth. I don’t even remember what we did for the rest of the meeting, only how exhausted we felt because we were just playing leadership tug of war.

As I drove home, I alternated between crying and screaming at God. Sometimes it was about the girls, sometimes it was about me, but somewhere in-between, I began to get scared that I was no longer equipped to lead these girls. I began to believe that I was too old. I began to surrender and give up. And in the midst of me deciding to quit discipling girls, the Lord stepped in and quietly whispered a question in my heart that began a new work within me. He lovingly sidestepped my resignation letter and re-invigorated me with a love for the girls He had placed in my path. The question He whispered to me was simply this: “What generation is this?”

Leading a New Generation of Girls

I thought I knew the girls I was leading, but I didn’t. I went home and discovered that I had been leading our girls ministry for Millennials, and these girls were not Millennials. These girls were Generation Z. They looked a lot like Millennials, but they responded completely different to the way I led than Millennials did. There are differing years mentioned for when generations start and stop, but I have found that the data from Mark McCrindle has lined up best with what I have seen over the last seventeen years of working with girls.

Here is a Generation Cheat Sheet I made to help me remember:

Chart showing people of different generations and their ages, including Generation Alpha, Generation Z,Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Builders
It’s been 4 years since that meeting, and God has used what I learned to help other leaders know more about the Gen Z girls in their lives.

3 Things I Learned About Gen Z

1. This generation is made by God.

I know that seems elementary, but I never stopped to think that a whole generation is made by God. That means I can talk directly to their Creator and ask for insight to know how to lead them. When I drove home crying in my car and screaming out my heart to Him about that meeting, God heard me. He responded with a question that helped me see who it was I was supposed to be leading. He taught me about the girls He placed in my path. Whether you are leading your own daughter, a group of girls, or a flock of them . . . don’t forget to talk with their Creator about who they are and how they are wired. He will reveal things about an entire generation to you. He delights in telling us about how to love, disciple, and pray for the girls He has made.

2. This generation is self-reliant.

They believe the first part of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things,” but the second part of the verse is where they struggle. It’s hard for them to surrender their main vice of pride and acknowledge that it’s only through Christ who strengthens them that they can do all things. However, when a student in this generation truly has her heart broken for the things of God, and seeks His Kingdom, they are like a pack of apostle Pauls, boldly proclaiming His gospel to everyone and everywhere.

3. This generation is entrepreneurial.

They won’t wait for you to tell you them that they have the green light. They assume, “go!” as soon as they have the idea. When I began to realize these girls were different and I needed to lead differently, I didn’t walk ahead of them showing them how to do things like I had with Millennials. I knew I had to get out of the way quicker. So I began to tell them the areas they could not change and the items that they could. I created some guard rails and empowered them to “go” within the boundaries I had set. I discovered that they rose to the challenge when I told them, “This rises and falls with you.” They did not need hand holding when I gave them that charge, but they did need space to lead. I also found that I could not take something back once I gave it to them. They want to be able to own something, and when you take it back, they will not pick it back up. This is good news for the Good News! Once you give Gen Z the vision for discipling others, they will run with it and do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine.

You’re Never Too Old to Disciple

Now that I have filled your minds with all of this Gen Z info, it’s important for you to hear that the oldest members of Generation Z are now in college. A new generation is showing up in our children’s ministries. So what does that mean for you? What does that mean for me? It means that whether I am working with Gen Z or Gen Alpha or any of the generations yet to come, I know that as different as they are, they are all made by the same Creator. And I know that God wants the generations to tell each other about how He has been at work: “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4). And we are not to believe the lie that we are too old to disciple the generations behind us.

As I researched generations that day four years ago, God showed me this passage: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (Ps. 71:18). So consider the generations today and don’t quit. There must’ve been a face or a name of a girl that God brought to your heart as you read this blog post today. Talk to Him about her. Ask Him today about the generation of girls you are discipling. Ask Him to show you how to love them, lead them, and empower them to go to the ends of the earth with His Good News. Ask Him to break their pride so that they can see that He is God and they are not. And wave your own white flag of surrender to Him every day, acknowledging that you can only do this leadership thing in His strength, not yours. Oh, and one final thing . . . do not quit!

About the Author

Amy-Jo Girardier

Amy-Jo Girardier is the Girls Minister at Brentwood Baptist in Brentwood, Tennessee, and the author of two bible study and DVD teaching series: Authentic Love and Faithful One. She is the founding editor of, a website created to connect and resource girls ministers, moms, and youth workers engaged in the girls ministry conversation. In addition to ministry, Amy-Jo loves using technology, passing on her love of technology to others, drinking coffee, running, serving on staff with her husband, Darrel, and hanging out with her sons Scout and Skylar.