Last night a parent asked me, “Do you all do something social on Fridays for your teens like so and so’s church?” 6 years ago that question would have gotten someone smacked (in my imagination). But in all seriousness I used to take insult to questions and comments about the other youth ministries vs mine. It’s because those kinds of questions sound more like a suggestion that the others were better.
I don’t feel that way anymore, so I’m wondering if those feelings of pride were because I was new and had something to prove or because I was jealous that I wasn’t like or better than them. It was definitely a pride issue, a problem that I’ve worked hard at resolving. And this is what helps:
I Focus On My Ministry’s Identity
Meaning, I look at the type of ministry God is calling us to be. To do this you need vision, mission and values. If you don’t have vision you don’t have direction, with no mission you aren’t organized and with no value you aren’t worth investing into. And this is something that needs constant attention. Your vision might not change but how you word it, clarify and communicate might. How you achieve your vision through mission always needs attention and your values need to change as your ministry changes.
When you can examine your ministry you’ll understand it’s limitations and you won’t mind that’s it isn’t like the other guys’.
I Got To Know The Other Guys
If you really take a look at a successful church you’ll notice that they aren’t competing against you, but competing alongside of you. They’re desire isn’t to be better or more relevant than other churches. They desire to be better and relevant for those seeking purpose in their lives. So how do you get to know the other guys?
- You Sit With Them: I love sitting and listening with other youth workers and talking shop. Eric Heiland a fellow youth pastor in the Baltimore area is great at bringing together like minded men and women. He brings us together, but then he listens and asks questions, we need to surround ourselves with people like this.
- You Work With Them: I’m not the greatest at doing this, because I’m very selective (and probably too selective) on outside projects. But it’s an important to work with the other guys because they’ll push you and you’ll push them to new limits.
- You Observe Them: One of the best things you can do for your own ministry is to walk into someone else’s and just see what they do and how they do it. By investing time and energy to see what they do, you’ll discover that they’re just like you.
Again I’m not sure if I had those feelings because I was young and new or because of a jealousy bubbling inside. It’s intimidating because you don’t want to lose students, because losing them can get personal. But we can’t go around blaming other churches for having better resources, more ministers and even more teens. Instead we need to learn from them and with them. Again, I struggle at times with this issue, but at least I know how to combat it. So search for that group of people who.
How do you handle the us vs. them mentality? Do you feel that other churches have an unfair advantage? Please Comment