Every 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