Girls of grace
Terry Jones, Heather Payne and Denise Jones were just out
of college when they began their journey as Point of Grace.
A decade later, they have one platinum and five gold albums
to their credit, 24 consecutive No. 1 singles, 14 Dove Awards
(with four nominations for 2002) and two Grammy nods. For
the group’s eighth album, the girls are once again
blazing new trails. Girls of Grace is more than just a collection
of worship songs. It’s a conference, a devotional
book, a journal and, most importantly, a movement that Point
of Grace hopes will become a life-changing event for teenage
girls. Denise Jones recently spoke with Amber Weigand-Buckley,
managing editor for On
Course magazine, about the group’s dream
of influencing the decisions of a new generation of women.
PE: How was
God working in Point of Grace when this new ministry got
Point of Grace has been together 12 years now, and at about
our 10th anniversary we took some time off to [be] in our
home churches and attend women’s Bible studies. During
that time, God began to place in each of our hearts very
different things. I was in a Bible study called Intimate
Issues that dealt with the sexual aspects of marriage. God
really began to speak to me about communicating with young
girls about this issue because the world presents so many
warped views of what sex is and what marriage is.
At the same time
Terry was mentoring and discipling a group of eighth-grade
girls from her church. It was very evident that someone
needed to speak honestly to these girls. God was also working
in the same way with Heather and Shelley.
One day a mom
told Terry, “You all are finally old enough that I
trust you to teach my daughter these sorts of things. Yet
you’re still young enough that my daughter thinks
you’re cool.” That clicked. It all came together
and someone came up with the name Girls of Grace. It seemed
so fitting to go along with the outstretched arm of Point
PE: What were
the first steps in the Girls of Grace ministry?
we started out as Point of Grace, God had already placed
in our hearts the desire to minister to teenage girls. In
1992, we joined hands with Mercy Ministries of America,
a ministry for teenagers and young girls somewhere between
the ages of 13-28. It deals with all kinds of issues whether
it is unwanted pregnancy, anorexia, bulimia, abuse, depression
or you name it. We all four were raised in godly families
and felt very blessed, and we realized that one wrong turn
and we could have ended up where these girls are now.
PE: What is
the concept behind Girls of Grace?
We’ve taken ideas from teen girl magazines and books
and found that there are three things that they consistently
talk about — boys, family and friendships. We’ve
added another: your personal walk with Jesus Christ.
to a lot of Scripture, and it’s [important] to hear
what God has to say about subjects like sex. We just try
and give girls some real practical stuff. Heather talks
about [having] personal time with God. Shelley talks about
respecting parents and the importance of family and Terry
talks about healthy friendships.
PE: What do
you do at a Girls of Grace conference?
just don’t give us enough time to talk about important
things. So we offer a Friday night concert and an all-day
Saturday event. On Friday, we do a lot of praise and worship.
Nancy from Mercy Ministries of America speaks, and she just
flat-out presents the gospel. She speaks to girls like they
are adults and she doesn’t baby them. Our purpose
for doing that on Friday night is that we want girls to
know up-front where their relationship stands with Jesus
Christ. When we talk about sex and dating and God’s
plan for their lives the next day, if they don’t understand
in the first place that there is a God who cares for them
at every place in their lives, how can they believe the
other things we have to tell them?
What was your main struggle as a teen when it came down
to your relationship with Christ?
In junior high I was very focused on my relationship with
Christ and with my friends, and I wanted to bring them to
church or to the Lord. By the time I got to high school
I was very distracted by my relationship with my boyfriend
and I was very involved with basketball. When I failed,
it did not occur to me that it was because I didn’t
hear God’s voice. I was so engulfed in my own desires.
PE: What areas
do you see teen girls really struggling with today?
They struggle with identity mostly. Who they are. Who they
are trying to please. It can show up in the way that they
handle an eating disorder, maintain relationships or go
about their day-to-day lives. We’re all distracted
by these things. We’re all trying to impress the people
around us — our parents, friends, peers, and ourselves.
Modesty is another
big issue. These girls are bombarded with the world telling
them what to wear and how to look “right.” We
do this little fashion show part of the conference with
some of the girls from the local host church who are all
different sizes and builds. We reinforce the idea that God
has made us all beautiful. You can still look cool but dress
in a way that shows everything that you do and everything
that is in your heart is for God.
We have some
great footage for the conference from fellow artists Michael
W. Smith and Toby Mac who say that the first thing they
loved about their wives is that their wives loved Jesus.
The musicians comment that when they are at concerts and
see girls dressed in an inappropriate way, they just have
to turn away. It reinforces the idea that if girls really
want a godly guy, they need to focus on their relationship
with God and make that relationship shine through into every
aspect of their lives.
PE: What is
the main dating advice you try to pass to the girls you
In my dating experience I’ve realized that the real
issue is a girl’s heart — what’s motivating
her. It’s when they step across the cafeteria and
sit with someone who always sits alone, and they do that
because of the love that God has placed in their hearts.
It’s when they serve their brother and sister and
in some way help them with a chore, and not so that their
brother will do something for them. When they have a heart
for God, that’s when everything else will fall into
PE: What kind
of results are you seeing from your conferences?
We have done four and we have been blown away at the responses.
We had 9,000 girls at our first conference. We had 3,000
in Denver. It was sold out and we turned away more than
2,000. We had 4,500 in Grand Rapids and were also turning
people away. We don’t even reach these numbers when
we do a concert. It just goes to show how much this is needed.
One of the comments that I continue to get over and over
from girls is, “No one ever tried to talk to me about
these topics before.”
PE: How have
you seen girls’ lives change?
Girls have come together to form their own Girls of Grace
study groups. They are walking through these issues and
encouraging each other. There have also been decisions for
Christ. We try to connect girls with the local host-church
sponsors or youth leaders who can continue to minister and
walk the walk with them.
PE: What is
your definition of a girl of grace?
A girl of grace is someone who really knows how much Jesus
loves her, with all her faults and all her good. And because
of that love, it outpours into every aspect of her life.
PE: Do you
have any final thoughts?
First Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look
down on you because you are young, but set an example for
the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and
in purity” (NIV). That’s what we feel called
to instill in the lives of the teen girls we minister to.
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