I love The Lord of the Rings. The sense of adventure and intrigue—combined with elements of the unknown and a quest that seems next to impossible to fulfill—always excites me! Frodo Baggins is tasked with a mission that is humbling, terrifying, and downright overwhelming to accept and accomplish.
But in the midst of those feelings, Frodo finds others who are willing to join him on his quest. They become known as “The Fellowship of the Ring” and are sent out with a singular focus and vision, united together to accomplish this monumental calling.
Although The Lord of the Rings is just a story, our calling to make disciples and lead a Gospel Advancing ministry in our own local communities is very real. And it can leave us feeling like Frodo—terrified and overwhelmed, not knowing how (or if) we will accomplish it.
As Frodo discovered, the make-or-break factor is often whether or not we can find others to join us in our quest.
I believe having your own local “Fellowship”—a band of Gospel Advancing brothers and sisters in your area—is the key to helping you and your students begin to see this Gospel Advancing vision take root and impact your community. But where do you begin? How do you start? How do you keep it going strong? Here are a few thoughts I’ve learned from my own experiences of helping create and lead our local network.
Prayer & Patience
This is where it all started for me. As I became burdened by the God-sized goal of seeing our entire community (12,000+ middle school and high school students) reached with the Gospel, I began to pray for our community and our students. I also asked God to raise up other youth workers and leaders who shared a common vision and burden to see our students reached and equipped with the Gospel. To be honest, it felt lonely at times, and I was unsure when and how God would honor that prayer. But persistence and faithfulness in prayer eventually led to some breakthroughs.
Care & Connect
As I prayed, I asked God to provide opportunities for me to connect with and share this vision with other youth workers. I began looking for ways to build relationships and care for them. Sometimes this came through making a phone call to their church and inviting them out for coffee or lunch, or meeting because of a mutual-friend connection, or even inviting them to attend Dare 2 Share LIVE.
In each situation, I took time to build rapport, trust, and a relationship with them. I asked questions about their ministry and family, and their personal interests or hobbies. I prayed for them and their ministries and offered suggestions on resources or ideas that could benefit their group. I was once told that “relationships move at the speed of trust.” Fostering strong, solid relationships with others was important for a healthy network to exist. As time progressed and those relationships deepened, it provided the opportunity to share my vision and partner together to see our Gospel Advancing network come to life.
Common Pathway & Plan
As we began to meet regularly, we adopted a vision and plan for what our network would focus on and do. This statement and 6 key focus areas have been helpful to refine what we will and will not do and ensure our focus remains on the God-sized vision of reaching our community with the Gospel. By God’s grace, we’re still focused on that! Likewise, we’re all in theological agreement around the “5 G’s,” and we keep this focus whenever we gather or create events or activities where our groups join together.
So, what’s your next step? What’s keeping you from starting or joining a Gospel Advancing network in your community? I believe youth workers can have an exponential impact for the Kingdom when they join forces with other like-minded youth workers around them. We’re better and stronger together. Take the next step, and see how God can use your own local “Fellowship” to impact others and transform your community!