Six Ideas for Nurturing a Culture of Modesty

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modestyIn 1937 in the city of Toronto, two women walked down the street wearing something that attracted such male attention that it caused a car crash.  What were these women wearing that was so provocative?  Shorts. Modesty looks a bit different now than it did back in 1937.  Wearing shorts is a pretty regular part of girls wardrobes. However, there is a truth. Modesty was a big deal back in 1937, and it is a big deal today. Modesty is a topic that every youth leader dreads talking about…it can be awkward and uncomfortable. Especially if you are a dude.  Since part of our roles as youth leaders is to help students and parents create healthy boundaries so that we bring glory to God this is not a subject we can (or should) avoid. So let’s talk about it. Oftentimes, we scoot around the issue.  We see a student come in, dressed inappropriately and we do not do anything about it out of fear of offending or embarrassing the student or parent.  I want to challenge you. It is more offensive and embarrassing to grow lazy on keeping a watch on the purity of that daughter of the King.  It is also more offensive and embarrassing to grow lazy in protecting our mighty men of the Lord.  Here are six ways that we nurture modesty in our group:

Diving into Modesty Every Year

We regularly teach on things like prayer and bible study hoping that our regular lessons will help them learn how to pray and study the scriptures.  Why should modesty be any different?  Making sure to take time to teach girls about modesty on a yearly basis (if not more often in a small group setting) will help prevent some damage in that department.

Setting Clear Expectations

When we talk about modesty it is very clear because clarity enables accountability.  Not only that, I make sure that all of this is done together.  I want our guys and girls together to hear me talk about what is acceptable behavior from girls.  I want our guys and girls together to hear me talk about what is acceptable behavior from guys.  When these topics are spoken of clearly, it makes the topics less taboo and helps honor. Modesty can become part of the DNA of the group.

Platform Rules

We have a covenant that our student leaders sign, and I put on that covenant certain dress codes if they will be on stage.  If the leaders in your student ministry are given boundaries as to what is appropriate, many times the students under them will fall in line as well.

Recruiting Models of Modesty

I don’t need leaders who just stand around saying, “Now, kids,  dress modestly.” Your students need to see that you can dress attractively and at the same time not be showing it all off.

We speak up

In a small group a few weeks ago with high school girls, the question of ‘what is appropriate when it comes to see-through shirts, camis, and underwear?’ came up as a topic of discussion.  All I know is it didn’t take me long to pipe in and say, “There is nothing wrong with ‘fun’ colored underwear as long as it is under what you wear.  The only guy who should be seeing your ‘fun’ colored underwear is your husband.” Sometimes, girls do not have mom’s or dad’s at home that will say that to them, and we have to step in as a spiritual parent a say it!

Recognize the Deeper Brokenness

Typically half of the students who dress inappropriately don’t really think anything is wrong with it.   It should be expected that if a student habitually shows up in inappropriate clothing, there needs to be a coffee chat finding to talk about where they finds their worth.  The clothes, or lack there of, is often a symptom of a deeper problem.  So many times the root is self-worth, and the beginning of a solution is helping them discover who they are in Christ.

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Caroline has served in student ministry for almost 10 years, and is currently the Youth and Young Adult Minister at Destin United Methodist Church in Destin, FL and co-founder of WAVES Girls Event, a conference for girls ages 14-24. Getting a call into youth ministry at age 16 in Nashville, TN led to Caroline getting a degree in Youth and Family Ministry and a certificate through PREPARE/ENRICH for Premarital Counseling at Abilene Christian University in 2009. She got her start in full time student ministry at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX. Caroline loves to encourage students in their faith, and see them be lights in their community. Some things Caroline enjoys is time on the beach, reading, sushi, coffee, traveling and time with her friends and family. You can follower her on her blog, called “Big Hare & Big Faith,” www.carolinehare.wordpress.com, or on Instagram and Twitter: @CarolineHare

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