The more I speak with youth workers the greater the need I see/hear for them to connect with others like themselves. This isn’t a new song that I’ve been singing (here I am saying at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in 2009), but it is one worth repeating. Youth workers need one another…Networks work!
Here’s my list of 9 reasons I believe youth workers should regularly connect with other youth workers:
1. A network is a place to combine resources
When you’re connected with others you can share resources. Practically, this saves you valuable time and money and makes you a relational steward.
2. A network provides a “culture of safety”
One of the reason I love meeting with other youth workers is because I feel safe. I feel understood. I feel known. This is a result from meeting with those who know what I do and what I’m usually feeling/going thru.
3. A network allows us to learn from others
Every time I gather with youth workers I’m amazed at how much I learn by simply listening to their stories about church, parents, teenagers, volunteers, etc… Other people’s life experiences are a classroom for those willing to learn.
4. A network can be an ideas’ factory
I love hearing what other youth workers are doing. When we share ideas, it’s so much easier to “steal” with permission. My favorite network gatherings were when we would show up every month and share copies of all we had done during the month.
5. A network provides free counseling & consulting
This one is HUGE! So many of the questions that I receive to answer on our SYM podcast could be better answered if they were asked within the community of other youth workers. Veteran youth workers are really sharp people and can aid with personal and strategic questions.
6. A network expresses the diversity within the body of Christ
One of the many elements that I enjoy about meeting with other youth workers is the theological melting pot that shows up. If you choose to meet with people in your own denomination, great! But if not, you gather with people who are theologically diverse and have much to offer (diverse, but unified on the essentials that are important to you).
7. A network allows you to be community-oriented
I love it when networks pull off events for either the local community or the faith community. It’s so great to see youth groups doing things they probably couldn’t do on their own but can pull-off because of the connections within their network.
8. A network models non-competitive church relationships
Teenagers need to see that youth groups are willing to work together to do things they can’t do on their own. The youth group down the street isn’t the enemy—the Enemy is the enemy—we need to model that reality
9. A network provides genuine fun and friendships
Networks that meet consistently and for long periods of time become the foundation for great long-term relationships. I’ve experienced this personally and I’ve seen a depth of friendships forming across the country from those who said “yes” to a network gathering.
Bottom line: as youth workers we are “better together”! If you’re not currently connected with a group of youth workers, PLEASE click here and begin searching for one near you.
Chime in! Two ways I’d love to hear from you: (1) What’s the reason that I’m missing? Let’s get to #10. (2) Are you part of a strong network? Let me know about it.