I’m a 15+ year youth ministry veteran with a bit of advice that I’d like to share because I learned this the hard way: Develop a social safety net outside of your church. Do something that connects you to people outside of your church.
I was terminated from my position (where I’ve been for 10 years) a few weeks ago. Even though my termination wasn’t because of anything immoral, there still became a massive social disconnect between our family and the relationships that we’ve built at that church. Those relationships are forever changed. We can’t go to my small group anymore. My kids no longer have their small group leaders. Some people connect with you because you’re in a position of influence and once you no longer have that influence that relationship will be over or altered.
Yes, there will always be people who support you and stay connected with you, but it will be different. If you have built a social network outside of your church you’ll have a social safety net. Where I live, I’ve been able to connect with people in my gym. I’ve been able to build meaningful relationships over the course of a couple of years. Since I’ve made that investment, people from my gym have reached out to me and have even offered to bring us food or help watch our kids. They’re constantly checking in with my family. It’s also good for your mental health to have something that connects you with others outside of the church. And what a great evangelism opportunity!
Here are a couple of ways you can connect with people in your community outside of your church:
- Volunteer to coach in your community sports league. Most communities struggle to find coaches.
- Join the community sports league! We have a very popular adult kickball league in my city.
- Check your local library for social clubs and gatherings. Libraries often have groups that meet for all kinds of different interests.
- Check with your local police and fire departments. They often have a need for chaplains to help respond to emergency calls.
- Think about the things you enjoy doing that are outside of the church and think about how you can do those things within the community.
There will be a day when you are no longer in the position you are in either by your choice or by another circumstance. Build connections now that keep you grounded in your community so that you have a social safety net should you need it.
I am a former Walt Disney World Cast Member that went into youth ministry back in the early 2000’s. I am a 2005 graduate of Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee. From Florida, to Tennessee, to Indiana for the last 15 years to serve as a youth pastor.