3 Reasons Why You Should Join a Network
Adam’s post below is a great reminder of why it’s important for us to gather together. Join us at the National Youth Workers Convention this fall in Cincinnati, OH to connect with and learn from the full family of youth workers.
Youth ministry can be tough. There are salary challenges (if you’re even paid), the pain of being under-appreciated, difficulties with parents and volunteers, drama with students, etc. Yes, it’s a tough job. But every time I hear about a youth worker walking away from ministry, it saddens me.
Many youth workers quit because they feel alone. But the truth is, you don’t have to be alone. In Galatians 6:2, we’re told to share each other’s burdens. If you feel alone or burned out, my first question is Have you joined a local youth worker network? My regular meetings with other youth workers through a network that fosters unity, encouragement, and fellowship have been a priceless gift to me over the years.
Here are three reasons why I think you need to join a local network—now!
Weird Adults Get Each Other
Most adults don’t enjoy being around teenagers—but youth workers do! In our culture, we’re certainly an abnormal group of adults. Over the years, I’ve met dozens of youth workers, and I’ve discovered a commonality: most of us are bad at math! I’m joking—kind of. But seriously, whether a youth worker is male or female, young or old, most of us seem to be cut from the same cloth. I enjoy being around nearly all of the youth workers I meet. There’s something cathartic about fellowshipping with like-minded people.
[bctt tweet=”If anyone understands the unique challenges of serving in youth ministry, it’s other youth workers.” username=”ys_scoop”]
In order to be a good leader, you need to be a lifelong learner. It doesn’t matter if you have a high school education or a seminary degree—if you think you’ve got it all figured out, your days in ministry are numbered, especially when you work in a field as rapidly changing as youth ministry. Your church may not have the budget to send you to a conference like NYWC, but you can educate yourself for free by joining a network. At my local network, one of our members recently shared how he wisely handled a student who was acting inappropriately at his church. This particular student also identifies as transgender, which added a unique layer to the situation. Most of us had never even thought about what we would do if something similar happened at our churches, but we know what to do now—because we learned from him. For another network meeting, we brought in an expert in drug prevention. We learned a ton of practical information from her that will make us better youth workers.
[bctt tweet=”Regular meetings with other youth workers allow for free education from other experts in our field. ” username=”ys_scoop”]
Networks Reflect the Unity of the Church
In John 17, Jesus prays for us, the church. In this beautiful prayer for unity, he asks that Christians would be one as the members of the Trinity are one. While I certainly value biblical theology and doctrine, I also understand the difference between major and minor doctrines that separate denominations. I’m not advocating an ecumenical gathering with anyone who calls themselves Christians—major doctrines matter. My network is a nondenominational, evangelical organization. By evangelical, we mean that we agree on major doctrines. But we don’t focus on minor differences, such as worship styles or views on spiritual gifts. In an age when denominationalism is rapidly declining and our culture is becoming more and more anti-Christian, evangelicals should be uniting—not splintering. In my network, we close each meeting by breaking into small groups and praying for each other. Witnessing Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, and nondenominational youth workers praying for each other is a beautiful thing that reflects Christ’s prayer for unity among his followers.
BONUS: Networks are a great way to find camp or retreat speakers!
In Proverbs 15:22, we read that many advisers bring success. There’s no better place for a youth worker to find good advisers then through a network. I hope this post has helped you realize the importance of joining a network. You can find a local network by checking out YS Networks or National Network of Youth Ministries.
Adam Rollefson has been serving in youth ministry since 2003 and is the student pastor at Harvest Church, near Dallas. He also co-leads his local youth worker network. Adam holds a Master’s degree in Christian Education from Biola University and a degree in Christian Ministries from Indiana Wesleyan University.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.