Guest Post by Allison Williams
When I was in school, I hated group projects. I could not stand that my success could rise and fall based on someone else’s ideas and effort. Or worse — that another person would get credit for something that I created.
My first few years of full-time ministry, I used the same logic: do everything yourself, keep your head down, work harder, and eventually you’ll succeed. Aren’t new youth workers adorable and oh so green?
I wised up and found a great team to be a part of. My youth ministry network has been together for almost a decade. People move out of the area, new ministers move into the area, and some even change ministry roles in their congregations, but a core team always remains at the heart of our youth ministry network.
We try to have lunch together 2-3 Thursdays a month. Sometimes, we talk about the stresses and challenges of our daily lives. Every now and then, it is a group venting/counseling session. But most often, it’s mindless chit chat about family, sports, tv shows or books. It’s nice to have real community with people that you don’t have to be “on” with.
Our network even sets aside special time to plan and create as a group. Every semester, we hide out in a conference room with food, post its, our Bibles, and an easel for a day. We brainstorm what problems our kids are encountering, what they still need to learn in Scripture, and where we feel the Holy Spirit is leading our groups. Then, we break that down into a semester worth of lessons, themed and sequenced appropriately. We assign due dates and agree upon guidelines that every lesson and series should follow. When we get together for events, conferences, or retreats, they are so much easier to plan because our kids are unknowingly on the same page week to week.
One of the coolest parts of a network is watching our students form friendships with one another; they also connect with the youth workers and volunteers from the various churches. I went on a summer camp trip a couple years back, and a new youth minister came up to me and whispered, “I don’t want to sound dumb, but which students are mine?” That’s incredible. I think that’s how youth ministry in the Kingdom of God should feel like! It’s not a competition for numbers, it’s a team sport with students’ eternities on the line.
Invest into the youth workers in your area. If there isn’t a network, create one. You need these other youth workers to speak into your life and you owe it to them to invest in to their lives. And all of our students deserve a team trying to give them every opportunity to grow in their discipleship in Christ. If you’re too busy to network, you obviously need a network.