If you’re serving in youth ministry, there’s a chance there are other youth pastors and youth workers in your area. Whether you are full-time, part-time, or a volunteer, there are tons of benefits to networking with other youth workers in your area! The question you might have is, how do you start a youth network if there isn’t one already going? Here are some pretty easy wins:

Take them out for coffee or lunch.

If you have a budget for it with your church, offer to take out a local youth pastor on your dime. Let them know the only thing you want to gain from grabbing coffee or lunch is to get to know them better and actually mean that! There’s a lot to be said for breaking bread with someone and just getting to meet them, exchange phone numbers, and sit across the table; it’s a big deal. Ask them what their wins have been recently. Ask them about their struggles. Pray for them. It’s a huge way to get to know someone, and it’s how we treat students and volunteers, so why not treat other youth pastors the same way?

Start a text thread.

Once you get to know a couple of youth pastors in the area, start connecting them! Introduce each other over text messaging and put them into a group chat. Since you’re all struggling with the same challenges and issues, finding some common ground and sharing a meme every now and then can provide your group with some fun and encouragement for reaching students!

Ask them to teach for you.

It feels like a lot of youth pastors want to be the one who goes and teaches someplace other than their own church. Just check out the DYM Facebook page. But what if you INVITED a fellow youth pastor to come and speak to the students you’re ministering to? That’s a move that will earn you some serious credibility with a local youth pastor. Why? It shows you’re on the same team. It shows you’re comfortable with the church down the street. And it gives your buddy a chance to speak to a different crowd. All great things. And a good way to grow fellowship with one another.

Be their friend.

Just be a friend to the youth pastors in your area. Reach out. Genuinely ask them how they are. Share funny videos. Brainstorm ideas. The start of a great youth ministry network doesn’t have to be an amazing joint youth ministry event with a thousand students. It can be a game night at your place with three other youth pastors who love students AND Settlers of Catan (or whatever your flavor of board game is). And you’ll find that you are mutually encouraged by others when you offer encouragement around as well.

Where do you go from here? Do whatever serves your group! Plan a monthly coffee time where you pray over your ministries and your students. Brainstorm how to tackle the combined biggest issues you are facing. Set up a retreat for a weekend for just youth pastors. The sky is the limit. Well, and your combined budgets, let’s be real.

What did I miss? I’d love to hear it!

Needing an event to rally around as youth workers? We got you!