by Jeremy Smith
Youth workers need to know how to network if they are going to make a huge impact in their community for their ministry. In the same sense, networking is as much with teenagers as it is with adults.
We will be sharing some very techie things shortly, but first, you need to understand that networking starts with the face-to-face. That has to be the ultimate goal for all youth workers.
Over the next several posts, I want to share with you how to network online and in person.
- Youth Workers Network
Youth ministry is a tough place to serve. People look down on you as being the “one that deals with teens” until they become adults. Students frequently let you down in one way or another. And the effort it takes to win the right to be heard by the teens is exhausting. Youth worker networks are a time when you regularly come together with other youth workers. The benefits of finding brothers and sisters that understand the pains of youth ministry and throw around collaboration ideas. If you do not have a networking meeting in your area, call up the local youth pastors and meet up at Subway over lunch and simply share some stories in ministry. If you would like more details about this, you can find it at National Network for Youth Workers.
- The Mustang Theory
There is a motivational speech that states while one horse can pull 2,000 pounds and another can pull 1,500 pounds by itself, when you strap them together they will pull 5,000 lbs more than the sum of the individuals. It is exciting to have a water balloon fight with 25 people, but even more fun to invite other churches and make it 100 teenagers. It may be too much work for you and your few volunteers to put together a mud volleyball tournament, but with the help of a couple of youth workers and their whole group, you may have a memorable event. Collaborate on ideas, resources, and leadership. One great online way for collaboration can be through a private Facebook group using MailChimp.
- Connecting with School Officials
The biggest person that you can have on your side is your school’s principal. Meet with them before the school year begins and offer your services whenever they need it. When they make a tough and unpopular decision that really was the best call for the students, write them a letter acknowledging how great they are. Show up with donuts during finals week for the whole office. Let them know if you have any after school activities. When they know your face, you have won a huge person for your ministry and they have a great resource when they need it. Do you have the school’s website bookmarketed or like their Facebook page? If not, go now.
- Going into Their Territory
Bringing the Gospel to students may mean that you need to win the right to be heard; go to their territory before you expect them to come to your church. If you have a strong relationship with school officials, you may be able to use their facilities or advertise your events in the school. Host a dodgeball tournament in the gym on a Saturday or offer to bring pizza during a school lunch for a group of students that you are looking to build relationships with. This is perfect neutral ground for teens you may not have met with and if the event is done well, will give you more credibility with the school.