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The relationships we have in ministry will inspire, challenge, shape and even hurt us. Some of those relationships we think will last forever while others will just be a moment in time. One relationship that takes more work to initiate than the others is the one we have with our fellow youth workers. When I started on in ministry I had no idea how to connect with youth ministers around my area. I had to attend a conference in California in order to learn how to connect with fellow youth workers in Baltimore, Maryland.
I discovered that I needed to get plugged into some national networks (i.e. National Network of Youth Ministry), look to my denomination and just invite a few local youth ministers out to grab a bite to eat. There were moments of success and then times when the other person was a no show. It can be hard work and seem like a waste of time; but, if you do not connect with the other guys you miss out on a few key benefits, such as:
- Accountability that will challenge you when you are wrong and push you when you need to lean into tough situations. Other youth ministers get what you are going through because most of them have been there too. They will have the God given advice to show you how to address that unruly parent or confront the misbehaving teen. Without their accountability you can’t guarantee like minded insight, truth, hope and healing.
- A Network to hook you up with a wealth of resources. You don’t have everything, nor should you have everything. Chances are there is a guy down the street who has a sumo wrestling suit that you need for your next event. One of the smartest ways to work with a small budget is by sharing. You can also help one another grow by introducing them to books, blogs or the magazines you read. When you network with the other guys you build your capacity without stretching yourself too far.
- Camaraderie to rally you through the tears, anger, joy and laughter of ministry. Nothing beats sitting around a box of pizza (it’s like our campfire) to share war stories of youth ministry. The love and prayers of your fellow youth workers will help you heal during the losses you face. When your budget is cut, or you lose a teen, everyone feels it for you. If you see life change and God blessing your ministry sharing that with a fellow youth minister in the trenches is inspiring. It’s through this camaraderie that we feel God’s love, patience, peace and grace.
Without the other guy, your ministry is incomplete. So, if you are new to networking, or just need a little help getting started, leave a comment and I’d be more than happy to hook you up. If you are a veteran I encourage you to reach out to the new guy down the road. Reach out and build accountability, camaraderie and network of in the trenches youth workers looking to sharpen iron with iron. If you want to make an impact on your community, you need to work with others.
What’s your favorite part about connecting with other youth workers?
If you belong to a network, where is it located?