Youth Ministers cannot do Youth Ministry alone. This is a common misconception made not only by youth minsters themselves, but also by any other ministers. It is common that the head minister will want a youth minister to do the job without any networking. It is important that youth ministers are able to “Get Off the Island.” They need to network with others.
One of the best examples of networking was done by an orthodontist. He would get each of the children that was a patient to help in his office at least once. The children did not have to do much, but they got to help and feel important. He had pictures of the children all over his office. They may have been pictures given to him by the children or pictures from the newspaper if they were featured in any issues. He would even hang out at little league baseball games, children’s contests, and other events for the children. He was always there to cheer for his patients.
If youth ministers are not able to get out of their setting, this causes “incest.” The relationships are only in the congregational setting and they start to focus on the self. It is a huge risk to start this.
Ask what is happening in the congregation. Networks need to be formed that are outside of the congregation. These can easily be two people from one congregation and two people from another.
It is important to learn together, pray together, and share gifts and resources. Social and theological issues should be discussed. In a church, learning time is usually Sunday school. However, learning time should take place outside the church as well. Talk about what is happening and events that can be done together.
It is important for networks to meet and talk. A common way to meet is to go out for lunch or dinner. However, if there are more than four people at a meal, no significant conversation happens.
It is also important to have a personal relationship with all of the people in the network. It is important that the people in th network are honest and helpful. These personal relationships need to be ones that will challenge you at times rather than just people who will support you.
With the others in your network, figure out where to go. Make a design for ministry and for the network. Pray for this. A leader can pray or the people in the network can simply sit, hold hands, and pray together.
Resource: ELCA’s 2007 Extravaganza, Workshop Session 5, “Get Off the Island” by Peggy Contos Hahn