I asked you all on Facebook what questions you’d like us to answer and last week all of the Life In Student Ministry authors tackled the same question, but this week each of us are taking a different question that you asked.
If you have questions you’d like to ask of other fellow youth workers, post them at MinistryQuestions.com. There’s a great community of ministry people there who regularly give input, advice, suggestions, and more to the questions that are asked. And while you’re there, answer one or two other people’s questions, as well. Follow MinistryQuestions on Twitter and Facebook for tweets and updates of new questions that are asked.
[ by Tim Schmoyer ]
I think the answer to that question really depends on the community you live in, how Kingdom minded the other churches and youth workers are in your area, what the history is of networking, and more.
For example, the youth workers from several of the evangelical churches in my area meet every Tuesday morning. I love that group! Years ago it was primarily a task-oriented group that focused on pulling off (amazing!) big events together, but as some youth workers have left and others have replaced them, it’s morphed into a group that meets mostly to talk, pray, support each other, challenge each other, share ministry stories, and even vent at times. We actually haven’t pulled off a combined event for about two years now. Instead, it’s more like, “Hey, our group is going to the amusement park in August. Any of your groups that want to join us are more than welcome.” The events we do together now are mostly pulled off by a single church that the other churches support, help promote, and participate in.
I’ve talked with many youth workers who have tried to start youth worker networks and quit in frustration because the churches in their community have tunnel-vision for their own four walls. Others I know are currently a part of a network, but no one collaborates together in ministry because the meeting is only once a month and it’s more about listening to announcements and a guy talk for 30 minutes than it is about community.
Before answering the question, let me first say this: doing activities with other youth groups just for the sake of doing activities with other youth groups is a waste of time. Yeah, it sounds cool and fun, but there has to be more to it than just sounding cool and fun. Don’t do anything for the sake of cool and fun — do everything with intentionality in pursuing a shared, common vision that you can accomplish better together than apart. If you start with the question, “What activities can we do together?” you’re probably not aiming at much. Instead, ask the question, “What is God’s vision for our youth group this year?” After determining what that is, if there’s another group in town that shares that vision, brainstorm ways you can support each other in the context of shared values and community, not in the context of filling the youth group calendar.
So what kind of activities can you do with other youth group? Pretty much anything you want. There aren’t really any limits to it. In fact, about two or three years ago, our youth worker network considered discontinuing all of our individual church youth ministries and joining together as one community youth group where each church contributed a paid staff member and adult leaders. If we had followed through on that, then we would’ve been doing absolutely everything together. In fact, there would no longer be an “us” and “them” mentality anyway.
Some of the things we’ve done in the past with the intentionality of working toward a common vision for such activities are:
- Visiting another church for youth group on Wednesday night. Once we even showed up unannounced just to surprise the other youth group and throw off all their plans!
- Meeting in a neutral site for a monthly combined youth worship experience.
- Dodgeball tournament amongst all the groups.
- New Years Eve parties.
- Swapping churches for the night to be a guest speaker at the other’s youth group.
- Pool resources to bring someone in to do one big weekend of training with all your leaders together.
- Pool resources to bring in a speaker for parent seminars.
Last year I shot a little video with a couple of the guys in my network about why we think it’s important for us to connect with each other each week.
QUESTION: What activities have you done with other youth groups in your area and why?
Posted on September 20, 2011