I love to network with other youth workers. Whether it is with the church down the street, another church in my denomination, people at a conference, or even others around the country, there is a place for all of us in the youth ministry community. The benefits of networking with other youth workers abound. For example, you can share resources, ideas, put on events together, or just share in life. But most importantly we are all on the same team—there’s no reason not to get together with other youth workers.
Over the years I have had the honor of being part of some great communities. I was even hired at my church through my involvement in a local network of youth pastors. I have been part of the Purpose Driven Youth Ministry network, led by Doug Fields, and been a coach to others to help bring health to their ministries. The basics of getting started depend on where you are in your ministry journey. If you are new to your local area or new to ministry, you may have to go and find out for yourself what is happening in your neighborhood. Facebook or Twitter can sometimes lead you in the right direction. There is a national group on Facebook called “Youth Pastors Only” which can help get things started. If you have been in your area or church for a while, try to find others who are new. Many times all it takes is a phone call to the church down the street and the willingness to buy someone a cup of coffee.
Many times all it takes is a phone call to the church down the street and the willingness to buy someone a cup of coffee.
Benefits to Networking
I get it, you have a lot on your plate and the thought of adding one more meeting, or one more person to talk to may seem overwhelming. Well, at first it may be, but the benefits end up outweighing the cost. Many things I have seen happen because of my networks could not have happened through my church alone. We have done events together we could never afford to do solo. There have been times of worship that have greatly impacted my students because of the quality and size brought by the networking churches. Mission opportunities have surfaced due to the communication among churches. Most importantly, I have developed life-long friends who know and share my heart for youth ministry. The most powerful thing I have learned from my connection with others is that I am not alone.
The most powerful thing I have learned from my connection with others is that I am not alone.
The Right Attitude
Ultimately, it is all about Christ’s Kingdom. When it comes to ministry in the church, that should be our heart’s desire. I am sure everyone would agree we want to see God’s kingdom grow, see people’s lives changed, and our churches impact our communities. However, when it comes to networking we need to check our motives. Some are afraid to get together with other youth workers out of fear of losing their kids. Others network to make a name for themselves (these guys are so obvious—can we just put it out there?) Let’s face it, no one has the corner on youth ministry. Someone else out there may have an idea or resources that will help you be a better leader for your students, and you probably have something that someone else needs.
We often understand 1 Cor. 12 to refer to the local church, but what if it also refers to all followers of Christ? If we zoom out of our own local context we may come to understand that together we all form Christ’s body with unique spiritual gifts. This diversity of gifts is present not just in our local contexts but in the larger network of church communities.
What are some of your experiences with youth networks?
Are there any networks you think others would benefit from?