In 20+ years of being “in charge” of a variety of ministries (church and parachurch) I have found great value and blessing in being connected to other youth leaders through gatherings of all sorts– local, national and virtual.
Though all three avenues of networking exist, the one that I value and push the most is the local network. Over the last 15 years of ministry, the local network has very much been a refuge, resource and sometimes a prime ministry outlet. If you’re a youth leader and don’t feel connected, please consider linking up with others in your area. Here are 10 reasons I network.
10. Local Events – Our meetings rarely are driven by an agenda to “do” things together. However, through relationship building our network has seen several partnerships take place and groups combine for local service projects and all-nighters.
9. Food and Beverage – Not going to lie, I have eaten well and enjoyed some great coffee at network gatherings.
8. Camps and Retreats – Over the last few years I have seen some of the best camps and retreats be prayed up, planned out and delivered as a result of the collaborative efforts of folks in our networks.
7. Social – Of course the meetings are somewhat social, but the gatherings have brought about deep friendships, some of these friendships have gone far beyond the ministry connection as we socialize together with spouses and families and “do life” together (including babysitting swapping)!
6. Spiritual/Ministry Retreat – Several local youth pastors and wives have gotten away from a renewal retreat concentrating on personal refreshment, laughter and marriage!
5. Shared Discipleship – In today’s society we share students. Students attend one church on Sunday with family and another one on Wednesday for Youth Group. Tag-teaming allows us to be on the same page with families and individuals.
4. Accountability. There are so many common struggles with relationships, sin, ministry issues and much more. At times of weakness I have been gently rebuked, uniquely encouraged or just spurred on in love and deed.
3. Witness. You don’t often see a group of three to 10 folk gathering, laughing, talking and then praying. Our network gatherings have brought about a number of gospel opportunities with onlookers asking “who are you people?”
2. Network Missions. On a few occasions our groups have gone out on mission trips together! This has been phenomenal, especially because many of our students return to our same schools as partners in mission for the other 51 weeks of the year!
1. Refuge and Prayer. Our network is safe. I am known in this tribe and I know that I am supported in prayer. If our group “errs” on one side, it’s that we want to love on each other and pray for one another more than anything else.