The Power Of Networking

 —  February 28, 2013 — 9 Comments

This weekend thousands of youth pastors will be flooding the city of Indianapolis for the annual Simply Youth Ministry Conference.  Sadly, I will not be one of them.  My reason is totally legitimate (And it makes missing not so bad)  my wife recently gave birth to our second son Benjamin.  One of the aspects of the conference that I’ll miss the most is meeting, growing and praying with some really awesome men and women who are currently in the trenches of youth ministry.  One of the best things about events like the Simply Youth Ministry Conference is the ability to build your network.

Networking can be easily overlooked because hanging with other youth workers can feel like time away from work.  Youth ministry is demanding because there is a constant need to serve teens, parents and train volunteers. But, if you don’t take the time to sit with other youth workers you’ll lack some important tools and resources to grow in your ministry.  When you network with other youth workers in the trenches you:

  • Are Reminded That You Aren’t Alone – Youth ministry can be lonely because of the burdens you put on yourself.  You network with other youth ministers you have a shoulder to cry on, an ear to hear your pains and a soul to pray for you.
  • Have Someone To Bounce Ideas Off Of - Maybe you have that crazy idea that might just work.  Chances are someone before you has tested it out and is willing to give you their insight.  Networking with other youth ministers means getting feedback on what works and what doesn’t.  It means recommendations on curriculum, conferences and events.
  • Can Share An Outside Perspective – There will always be challenges in youth ministry.  In order to approach the obstacles and situations that might be overwhelming you need someone to give you insight and wisdom.  By partnering up with others they’ll give you tips on how to approach your pastor, work with helicopter parents and walk with a hurting teen.
  • Will Be Encouraged In Your Calling – You will have moments when ministry feels like mud.  You might have that temptation to quit, walk away and forget the whole thing; however, having a group of youth workers around you can cheer you on.  Your fellow youth workers can remind you why it is God has called you into the trenches of youth ministry.

Networking isn’t wasting time, it’s building to your arsenal of resources to take on the evil one.  It also makes youth ministry bigger than your church, it breaks down competition and jealousy.  Working, communicating and sharing life with other youth workers will only make you stronger.  Take advantage of it.

Why do you network with other youth workers?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

For the most part, when I write something about youth ministry it is field-tested. I have done it…it worked. I have done it…don’t ever do it. I have done it…check out these scars. One of the ideas floating around in the old noggin that I have never done and I don’t know if it will work is … wait for it…seasons passes.

Allow me to explain: we live in a CostCo world. If I can’t buy 12 of something at a discounted rate then I don’t want any of them. I love the idea of warehouse stores so much that I bought my wedding ring at CostCo. (Longer story for another day) What if we were to sell season passes to our youth ministry with some of the same mentality? It would work something like this. We do 10-20 events throughout the year that cost different amounts.

    Winter Camp-$200
    Summer Camp-$500
    Connecting Event (Broomball)-$10
    Connecting Event (Road Rally)-$25
    Mission Trip-$100

…you get the point. If you were to plan your entire calendar for the year and figure out the cost for a family to send a student to everything you would come up with a grand total. Assuming the above 5 events were the only things my ministry was doing it would cost a student $835 to attend all of them.

What if you offered a 20% (or whatever you could afford as a ministry) discount on the cost of all of the events, and if a parent spends $668 they could go to all of the events for a 20% discounted rate?

The reasons I think I am on to something:

Who doesn’t love a discount? More for less is a good thing.
Forces you to plan (and stick to) your events for the year. I am 6 months into a new job at a new ministry. This will probably not happen for a year or two until I am sure of what works and what doesn’t.

There is a group of students who are bought into an event before you even start to plan for it. Once you have paid for something there is a willingness to go to it. You don’t want to waste the season pass. So you can assume most of the students who bought the pass will be at any given event. If not then you can be disappointed about their absences with a little extra money in your pocket.

You have some seed money for start of the year costs. All of our deposits are due at the same time and I put our accounting offices into a panic every September. If your budget was front-loaded by some extra incoming cash, they might not break into a cold sweat every time they saw you coming.

You can allow payment plans. Take the cost of your season pass and divide it by 12 or a little less after a deposit and then families can budget it on a monthly basis.

This one is a slippery slope…You could give some discounts or other privileges with the pass. Discounts on shirts, books, or other things you sell. Maybe front of the bus (or back) seating. Like I said, this one could get a little dangerous but just a thought. As mentioned, this is in the beta phase of genius, so I would love your thoughts or why you don’t think it would work. Maybe you have already tried it and you have some evidence one way or the other. Would love to see a discussion in the comments!

Jeff Bachman is the High School Pastor at Rock Harbor Church just up the road in Irvine, CA. Feel free to leave comments or email him at jbachman@rockharbor.org and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.