You are a rare breed. Not many people would give up their Saturday to spend it with middle school students, especially when a student tries to give you a muddy hug after they have whizzed down the giant slip-n-slide!
You see, youth ministry seems a little off. Most people lack an understanding of what we do. It seems ludicrous to many of our more civilized adult friends.
As a person of a rare breed, you need to develop a community with people who get “it.” After all, do you expect your lawyer friend to understand Noodle Hockey?
When you need community with others of an uncommon breed, find a youth pastor network. If there isn’t one around you, start one! If you don’t know where to begin, here are some thoughts.
HOW TO START A YOUTH PASTOR NETWORK
Don’t ask for permission.
As Bob Goff says in his book Love Does, too often we wait for others to give us permission.
Say this out loud, “I do not need permission to start a youth pastor network.”
Don’t wait for someone else. The only qualifications for this role are that you are part of the rare breed, and you desire community with others.
Geographical location may matter the most.
You can create your network around anything. You may start a group based on denominations, experience level, gender, or even convenience.
Any of these would work well, but I believe the best thing to build your network around is your geographical location.
When you are near each other, everyone will be more likely to attend often and consistently. Closeness allows you to develop connections with people near you, who are outside of your church.
Commit to who you already have.
Start with one or two people that you already know. You may not know many people to join your network, but you may know a few. Start with them.
The size of the network does not indicate quality. Start small and be consistent with your group.
Make the calls or send the e-mails.
Without work, you cannot expect people to show up to your group. You and your early members need to start by doing some groundwork.
Look up the websites of churches in your area and find the staff page. Send e-mails or make phone calls to any youth pastor you can find.
You may only get a few responses, but remember, size does not indicate quality. And know this, recruiting for your group will be a constant for your group.
Encourage a culture of recruitment in your group.
Recruiting for your network never stops. People move in and out of roles. Someone who is part of your group this year may be at a different church next year.
Recruitment for your group should never stop and should become a goal of all members of the network.
YOU NEED A NETWORK
Friends, you need a network of people who understand you. You need a group of people who can challenge you and encourage you. We all need people who get us, care for us, and give us a place to not be “on” the job.
So go out and find your network. If one doesn’t exist, start one. I believe you can do this and am excited for you to begin.
Rev. Brian Lawson is the Director of Leadership Development and Client Services for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. He also serves as a pastor in the Florida Conference of the UMC. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.