You know what I find fascinating? The fact that so many of the youth workers in my area don’t know each other! If we all serve our local ministry, love Jesus and want to invest in this generation of students, don’t you think we might have some common ground with the folks down the street from us? And yet, youth workers continue to identify all over the country as isolated and lonely because they feel disconnected from anyone else who is passionate about what they are called to.
I am grateful for how my first mentor in ministry 14 years ago demonstrated the importance of network relationships between local area youth workers and it has been a part of my ministry DNA ever since. Sure, it takes some time and effort to cultivate those relationships (realistically, though, only a couple hours a month!) but the results have been so worth it and I’m a better youth worker because of it and the students I serve in my area are better served because of it. Not to mention, working together across organizational and denominational lines has a distinct Kingdom feel to it. The youth workers in my area who have networked with fellow youth workers have experienced longer tenures at in their organizations, healthier relationships, both personally and professionally and in the end, have recognized that they are part of something larger than themselves.
So, if you aren’t networking in your area, how should you get started? In many areas, local networks already exist and you just may not know about them. Check online to see if there might be something that exists, better yet, call (or text/email) up another youth worker and see if they know about something. Or, maybe you just need to invite another youth worker to chat over coffee or a meal and ask to hear their story and how God is working in their ministry context. You may have to be the one who types the first email or makes the first call, but in the end, it’s totally worth it and easier than you thought.
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