Identity and Impact
by George P. WoodFriday, August 5, 2022 11:00 AM
If you are interested in influencing a nation of young girls, call us back.”
That message from the Assemblies of God national office grabbed Kim Sharp’s attention. It began a series of conversations that led to her appointment as National Girls Ministries director on March 28, 2022. In that role, Sharp leads the Fellowship’s discipleship efforts among young girls.
National Girls Ministries was founded in 1956. Its stated goal is “to see every girl moving toward a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, and to realize her importance and potential in the kingdom of God.” About 15% of all AG adherents in the U.S. — nearly 500,000 people — are girls aged 17 and under.
The main focus of Girls Ministries is MPact Clubs, a weekly, church-based discipleship program for first- through fifth-grade girls. Girls Ministries also sponsors annual events and publishes topical resources. Sharp’s team is revising and expanding Girls Ministries curriculum offerings.
In addition, Girls Ministries is working closely with other national AG ministries to provide girls consistent spiritual formation opportunities as they age.
“We should be a bridge between children, youth, and adult ministries to make sure we’re not losing people in the gaps,” Sharp says.
The scope and responsibilities of Girls Ministries wasn’t the reason Sharp accepted the invitation to lead, however. Instead, she says it was her concerns about the culture in which girls are growing up.
“My passion is to see the lives of girls across our nation ignited by the truth of the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and life-giving community with mentorship as they apply it in their lives.” — Kim Sharp
As an example, Sharp notes the increase in youth identifying as LGBT. In a 2021 Gallup poll of U.S. adults, 21% of Gen Z respondents (born 1997 or later) identified as LGBT, up from 11% just four years earlier. (By comparison, 7% of the U.S. adult population as a whole identifies as LGBT.)
Many social analysts attribute this uptick to increasing acceptance of sexual minorities. It may also be the result of social contagion, which is the effect of social networks on individual beliefs and behaviors.
Late childhood and early adolescence are crucial periods in a child’s emotional, physical, and spiritual development. So, it’s not surprising that girls are asking questions about their identity.
“What young girl isn’t uncomfortable in her own body?” Sharp asks. “The world is attempting to steal girls’ identities.”
The pressure to conform doesn’t just come from secular culture, however.
“We’ve got to be careful that we don’t lose girls’ identities within the Christian world, too,” Sharp says.
This can happen when Christians insist on rigid gender roles based on human tradition rather than the Bible.
For example, an old nursery rhyme asks, “What are little girls made of?” The answer is, “Sugar and spice and everything nice.” Sharp worries that such stereotypes send the wrong message.
“If a girl likes doing outdoor things, we’ve got to quit telling her she’s a tomboy,” she says. “If you enjoy those kinds of things, it doesn’t make you less of a girl or more of a girl than if you like pink and fluff.”
Sharp says girls need to focus instead on who they are in Christ.
“You are righteous in Christ Jesus,” Sharp says. “You are redeemed. You are loved. You are accepted in the Beloved. You are forgiven.”
Sharp says when a girl knows Jesus created her and poured out His Spirit on her, it transforms both how she feels about herself and how she interacts with others. It enables her to grow with purpose and confidence.
“If you’ve got a core that is solid, you can take hardship and criticism,” Sharp says.
Identity in Christ also prepares girls for mission.
“We should be attractive to the world, not because of how we look, but because we have hope and bondage-breaking power in our lives,” Sharp says.
Mentoring, an indispensable component of Girls Ministries, plays a crucial role in helping a girl develop her identity in Christ.
“I’m so impressed with our directors and leaders on the field who give their lives to this,” Sharps says. “It’s Titus 2: Older women teaching younger women. Local Girls Ministries leaders are living out this principle.”
Sharp wants to make sure Girls Ministries continues preparing young women for a lifetime of Christian service, whether in the marketplace or the local church. The issue isn’t where a woman serves, but whether she leaves a lasting impact wherever she serves.
“My passion is to see the lives of girls across our nation ignited by the truth of the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and life-giving community with mentorship as they apply it in their lives,” Sharp says.
Sharp has extensive experience in both the marketplace and the local church. For nearly half her adult career, she worked in the Special Victims Unit of the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office in Brookville, Indiana. There, Sharp helped victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, juvenile crimes, and child abuse.
“I’m a person who felt called to ministry from the church to the marketplace,” Sharp says. “I don’t feel like I was any less in ministry when I was in the prosecutor’s office than when I was filling the pulpit.”
An ordained Assemblies of God minister, Sharp formerly served as Dean of Women at North Central University in Minneapolis. She directed the Indy School of Leadership, an NCU satellite campus. She also worked as a worship pastor, youth pastor, and Girls Ministries director for the Indiana District.
Sharp believes churches need to develop a pipeline to help some girls discern a call to vocational ministry. The Assemblies of God affirms that God calls and empowers women and men equally to serve. However, Sharp recognizes biases against women in leadership still exist in some corners of the Church.
“It’s beautiful that we celebrate the fact that God made girls women, and that they have a place in ministry wherever they’re going in life,” Sharp says. “Girls are significant and can be all that God created them to be — as long as there’s opportunity.”
This article appears in the Summer 2022 edition of Influence magazine.