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What I like about my local youth pastor network

What I like about our local youth pastor networkEvery Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM I meet with a couple other youth pastors from different churches in my community. There’s a lot to like about the group — the fun, the teasing, the transparency, the support, and neutral party to bounce ideas and struggles — but the thing I value most about the group is that we all share a Kingdom mindset approach to ministry. In fact, there was a point about a year ago when we tossed around the idea of eliminating each of our individual church’s youth ministries and linking arms to create a single, community-wide youth ministry with each of us serving as full-time staff together that are paid by our different churches in the area.

Here’s how the Kingdom mindset works itself out in our youth ministries together:

  • Instead of each church doing their own individual training, together we pool resources and fly someone in once a year to do an all-day training for all our youth leaders combined.
  • Sometimes I send my youth group kids to the other churches for their events. They sometimes do the same for our events. If someone else’s ministry is doing something solid, why not join it? In fact, this Thursday some kids from my youth group and myself are doing just that.
  • Friendly competition between youth groups is always fun, like our up-coming multi-youth group dodgeball tournament.
  • We support each other’s ministries by spreading the word about each other’s events and meetings. In January the other churches are sending all their parents to my church for a Real World Parents seminar and helping with childcare for the event.
  • We hear each other’s struggles, offer support, encouragement, and pray for each other. It’s great to have a neutral place to talk about those kinds of things every week.
  • We learn together by reading and discussing various books, like Youth Ministry 3.0 and 7 Practices of an Effective Ministry.
  • We used to have combined monthly youth meetings, but after a couple years it started to dwindle and the vision for it faded, so we canned it last winter.
  • We share resources with each other. One church has a bus that we have all borrowed; another church lets us use their way-cool sanctuary for sr. high small group baptisms; we even share extra food with each other’s ministries so it doesn’t go to waste.
  • Some of the youth groups have been known to cancel their youth meeting and go crash someone else’s youth group meeting instead.
  • There’s open communication about “problem teens” and families who flip-flop churches.
  • Later this year some of the other youth pastors are coming to my sr. high youth group as special guest teachers.

It’s really all about Kingdom work, not church-kingdom work. It’s not about growing each of our individual ministries or competing to be the “best.” It’s about seeing teenager’s lives impacted for Christ regardless of whose church that happens in. The teamwork makes us so much more effective than any of us could be on our own.

P.S. Since I’m sure it will be a question in the comments, just thought I’d clarify that the churches who are actively involved in our youth worker network hold very similar theological beliefs. All of us are extremely comfortable sending students to each other’s ministries, partnering together for events and meetings, and even teaching for each other’s youth groups.


Posted on October 27, 2009

  • I think this is a FANTASTIC idea.

    Somewhere along the way, you (or someone) started this group. How did you do it? What steps did you take to get the network going? I'd love to start something where I am, but find it's been awfully hard to get other people to see the benefit of partnering to work towards something bigger than just our individual congregations.

    • Allies was here when I moved to town, but it was a much different group then. It was more about pulling off big events than anything else. Since that time, there's been turnover in almost every church represented and the network of youth workers who are now a part of the group all have a very different heart for ministry. We're all much higher on the "relational youth ministry" scale than the "big event ministry" scale. So, now it's morphed into more of a support/encouragement/mutual edification/teamwork kinda group.

      Since I didn't start this group, I can't really give you any real advice, but I'd probably start by making some phone calls, stopping by some YP offices at church to talk, and set a time to just get together and hang out. It will probably start small and grow from there as like-minded youth workers who share the same heart and vision for ministry start to connect with the group.

  • Tim, we are starting a network of youth ministers this week! I am going to print this out and show it to our associational director of missions. This is definitely my heart. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • It was good to read this article, especially since our "group" of youth ministers just got done tonight with a huge community wide service project.All of the teens in our groups dressed up as Superheros (that was the theme, some dressed up as other things or nothing) and went around town "Trick-or-Treating" for food for the food pantry. It was an awesome night, because we collected a bunch of food, but we also got to share the gospel with all the teens.
    We do a lot of edifying and support, especially considering some of the difficulties many of us are going through right now. Its nice to know that you are not alone in ministering for the Kingdom of God, and we can help each other. Great article.

  • Hey Tim, great post!

    If anyone is looking for resources on networking, I'd suggest going to youthworkers.net. They have a lot of good resources on the topic.

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  • alan

    i think it is fine when people work together but why is it only called kingdom work when churches do things together. it seems to say that individual churches do there own work and not kingdom work. that is simply not the case. i have done and will continue to do things with other churches but there is something to be said about the local church. our youth groups should be on the same page as their local body. that would be difficult if several youth groups got together and made one big one. who's church would they eventually look like. there are things that make the local church unique and well equipped to reach certain people. unity is not about doing the same thing, it is having the mind of Christ. 1 Cor 1:10. how we carry out the mind of Christ will look different in many churches and that is ok.

  • Hey Tim. The link for the dodgeball tournament isn't working.

    • Oops, looks like my timschmoyer.me's domain settings changed. Lemme update that. Check it again in a little bit.

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