My mother was a classic Church Lady and there were often “book clubs” hosted at our house in suburban Nashville. The books were usually some fiction book about a white woman finding herself, and I don’t remember actually reading the books being much of a requirement. The gatherings, as far as I remember, included a lot of chatting, pimento cheese balls, cucumber sandwiches, seasonally appropriate decorative dishware, and white wine. Nothing wrong with a cucumber sandwich and glass of wine with friends, of course, but you can imagine how jaw-dropping it was to have a conversation with the leader of WYM’s book club, Sunny Brown.
The WYM Book Club ain’t your average church ladies’ book club, y’all.
The Women in Youth Ministry book club is part of the WYM umbrella, which includes the Facebook group, a podcast, swag, this blog, and more. We wanted to take a moment and celebrate the incredible work happening there and invite you to step into the club yourself – but only if you’re ready for a challenge.
The Women in Youth Ministry book club, as described by Sunny, is driven by powerful testimony and distributed rotational leadership. The group votes on books to consider and then meets every Monday night to discuss what they’re learning and how it’s impacting them. These aren’t just Oprah’s book club books though, Sunny explained that they have been making intentional designs around equity with each of their choices, featuring voices of women of color, indigenous women, LGBTIA+ women, and more. She articulated that the book club is not a place for polite conversation, but honest self-reflection and growth. She considers it a place where people should be challenged, should have moments of discomfort, and should be able to work through that discomfort among safe people committed to walking alongside you.
When Sunny and I spoke, she painted a picture of intentional community, hard-fought honest conversations about privilege, power, race, and faith, and real authenticity. She told me about how they had laughed, cried, fought, learned, and even been the virtual bridesmaids in a member’s wedding. Dang. Quite an accomplishment for a book club that’s less than 18 months old.
The WYM book club not only challenges my (and presumably other’s) preconceived notions about book clubs but about what we can ask from each other in an intentional community. Their group has truly raised the bar of what level of vulnerability, honesty, growth, and accountability we can expect of one another, and I am grateful for their witness.
If you’re interested in the group, you should check it out, they would love to have you, but you better bring your big girl pants and be ready to check your ego at the door. This group is kind, welcoming, honest, powerful, vulnerable, and, to quote Sunny herself, “not for the faint of heart.”