I am a planner. I need the time to brainstorm and dream, to make a list or a spreadsheet (or two), and get all my ducks in a row. I believe in doing things with excellence—well thought out, well planned, well executed. But, the longer I’m around girls ministry and student ministry, the more I’m seeing that sometimes the most unplanned, thrown together activities bring about the most meaningful and memorable moments. Have you ever had this experience? It’s like we just need to get out of our own way sometimes and let things happen as God has ordained them.
A couple years ago the girls of our student ministry wanted to have a “Friendsgiving”. (If you’re not familiar, Friendsgiving is a relatively new “holiday” where you celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends. Leave it to our teenage girls to make it an actual thing.) So I quickly made a meal sign-up, I called on my best leaders to help me out, and I threw together some random activities. Before we knew it we had more girls than we knew what to do with.
We feasted like queens—seriously, we had more food than I’ve ever seen on a Thanksgiving table! We laughed and shared thankful memories over dinner. We played some games and made some friendship bracelets (I mean, why not?!). They loved every second of it! As leaders, we loved seeing so many girls from different grades, different schools, and different friend groups all together for one thing, sharing a meal and making memories.
Just recently I heard from a student, who is now in college, about her memories from high school. She shared that Friendsgiving was one of the top five highlights of high school for her! Who would have thought? Just some food and some quality time was all it took—nothing elaborate, nothing expensive.
The longer I’m around girls and girls ministry and student ministry, the more I am seeing that it is the little, unplanned things that matter the most: a few words of encouragement; that one girl who signed up for the trip who you thought never would; that couple that gave a financial gift so a student could be fully funded; the phone calls and text messages, sometimes days, weeks, and years later that affirm God’s hand on what we are doing.
Sometimes we don’t know the impact or the meaning of the moments we make and share with our girls. By faith, we believe that God is using all of our efforts to glorify Him and to bring girls to know and love Him more. What a joy and what a gift it is to hear and to see proof that they actually are!
Friendsgiving is on the calendar again this year for our girl’s ministry—this time with a bit more thought and preparation for my planning heart. I love being able to make a space for girls to show up, feel included, share a meal, and give thanks. But, even with the time to plan and prepare, I’m most looking forward to the unplanned parts: the girls that come even though I didn’t think they would; the friendships that form that I never would have assumed; the conversations that go deeper than the surface. Most of all, I’m looking forward to the reminder that God is always moving and at work even if I don’t see it, and it’s best if I get out of the way to let Him do just that.
Melonie Wagner has the joy of serving full time on staff as the Student Ministry Associate at First Baptist Mt. Juliet in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Her passion is to see girls come to know and love Jesus Christ through the local church. As a born and raised Tennessean, Melonie enjoys all things outdoors, the coziness of a good book, and quality time with her people. Connect with Melonie: Instagram