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Youth Ministry Essentials: Networking For Non-Networkers

Guest Post by Justin Herman

This is me being transparent: I feel I was born to network. I remember one summer I was all about collecting glass bottles. I’d take them to the convenience store, turn them back in, and buy candy with the money. (These were some of my best memories.) But I started to realize something . . . I was only getting a small amount of bottles and smaller amount of candy. So I started pulling in boys from down the street to pool bottles. More bottles = more candy!

As you can see, I was always using networking as a resource. The truth is simple: we can simply do more together than on our own.

On thing I’ve found after talking to countless youth pastors (some rookies, some vets) is that in their communities networking doesn’t seem to be a “big thing”.

Now, I understand that networking isn’t always easy. We’re all super busy, right? With our large groups, our small groups, our outreach stuff, our camps, and so on, networking falls low on the list. But here’s the deal: We do all this stuff for the glory of God, but for the most part, we’re all doing the same stuff! The methodology might be a little different but the resulting outcomes are often very similar.

When I started looking at the churches in my community, I realized what I realized when I was a young boy: if we pull together, we can accomplish more. Networking is the tool to get this done.

So what if you’re not a networker? Have no fear! Here are some quick thoughts to get you started in the right direction:

Check Your Motives

Is your goal to brag on yourself or to encourage others? It’s not a contest, but it is a race. And we’re running together. Make sure your motives are in the right place.

Get Mapping

Look at the four or five churches closest to you and start there. My advice is to worry less about denominations, and focus more on whether or not they love Jesus and love students. If the answer to both of those is “yes,” looks like a pretty good networking partner to me!

Be Willing To Make The First Move

Stop waiting for the other person to call you. Like asking that shy girl to prom, you’re going to have to buck up and “cold call” the youth minister from down the street. Be willing and trust God to do the heavy lifting.

Everybody Needs To Eat

Food is the best open door there is. Everyone needs to eat lunch, even the busiest youth ministers. Tag along and have great conversation.

Have A Goal

Do you want to plan events together? Vent? Share local strategies? Have a local “in the trenches” prayer partner? Know your goal going in and make it known. And the goal of “just wanting to hang out” is actually a pretty great goal to have.

This is just a list to get started. There are many more ways and paths to networking with others. Take the time to learn more about network strategies you could apply in your own community.

But whatever you do, don’t do nothing.

Justin Herman is the Director of Ministry, Jr High at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA. He has been in youth ministry for eight years. He was born in NYC, raised in Buffalo, educated in Missouri, and now lives in California. You can connect with Justin on Twitter or on Facebook or follow his blog.

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Andy Blanks is the co-founder of youthministry360, a ministry committed to equipping youth workers through resources, training, community, and networking. Andy is passionate about God’s Word and the transformation it brings in the lives of God’s people. Andy is a writer, teacher, speaker, and a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife and three daughters. Check out Andy’s youth ministry posts on the ym360 Blog (www.youthministry360.com/blog).