Why Your Partners and Friends in Youth Ministry Matter

Back in 2003, as a struggling, rookie and small church youth pastor, I realized I needed a lot of help from other youth pastors. So, I decided to start a blog about youth ministry. I was determined to find student ministry friends online that shared common interests and ministry philosophy.

And I did. I found a ton of youth ministry friends online and they helped me tremendously. In fact, a lot of the friends I found are still my ministry friends today.

I accidentally stumbled into the realization that you need solid partnership in youth ministry to really thrive. Back in the early 2000s, it was still weird to go online looking for ministry friends. The main Internet mediums for connection were: blogger, myspace and typepad. And since my natural wiring is “networker,” it was easy for me to seek out relationships and partnerships online which helped me develop and build a sustainable youth ministry.

I would have never guessed that building a solid youth ministry network was key in building a healthy youth ministry.

Here is why I think seeking out partnerships and friendships within the youth ministry community is insanely important:

1.  Friendships and partnerships matter because—you cannot do it alone anymore. The thinking of ”I can do this alone” is a very old-school way of thinking about how to do youth ministry. In fact, some youth pastors see other youth pastors as threats to their platform and ministry, which is why historically, youth pastors have a difficult time trusting and connecting with other youth pastors. But, youth pastors have to leave their egos and youth ministry logos at the door and humbly walk outside their church door in order to start finding helpful and resourceful friendships and partnerships. Plus, it’s very dangerous when a youth pastor doesn’t venture outside their church walls to connect with other youth pastors or youth ministry organizations. The lonely youth pastor becomes very isolated, irrelevant and flat. Partnering with other youth pastors not only keeps you sharp, but humble and honest.

Building relationships create networks. And your youth ministry network will greatly contribute to the success of your youth ministry. So who you develop relationships with really matters.

When you become connected to a youth ministry network, you have more value together than you do alone.

2.  Friendships and partnerships matter because—in an ever-so-changing youth culture world—youth pastors need to be exchanging ideas. How we did youth ministry 30, 20 and 10 years ago is very different than how we do it now. No one knows where we’re headed because now is all we have. So now it is up to the youth ministry networks to collectively create new ideas. Collaboration within your youth ministry network allows for shared learning and discovery, which paves the way for shaping the future of youth ministry.

Working together is better, which equals more productivity and innovation—that advances youth ministry.

We all need deeper partnerships and friendships within the youth ministry community. Who we build relationships and partnerships with effects not only the success of our youth ministries, but the future of youth ministry.

Deliberately choose your youth ministry friends and get to work and start creating the future.

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Questions for my youth pastor friends:

—Why don’t more youth pastors enjoy networking or cultivating relationships within the youth ministry community?

—Do you think the younger youth pastors are more inclined to network and connect with others?

—What are the best ways to connect with other youth pastors?

—What youth ministry tribes/networks have done a great job creating new ideas for the future of youth ministry?

—Who are the trusted youth ministry thought leaders other youth pastors need to connect with?

—What are the best forums to discuss youth ministry ideas and strategy?  

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Jeremy Zach
Jeremy Zach easily gets dissatisfied with status quo. He reeks with passion and boredom is not in his vocabulary. He becomes wide awake when connecting with student pastors, thinking and writing about student ministry, experimenting with online technology, and working out. He is married to Mikaela and has two calico cats, Stella and Laguna. He lives in Alpharetta, Georgia and is a XP3 Orange Specialist for Orange—a division of the REthink Group. Zach holds a Communication degree from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.

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