I am going to be honest (as if I’m not at other times??) with you all. When I am with students, I often feel like a different person than when I am on my own with a group of adults. With the students, I am outgoing and sometimes crazy. With adults, I am more reserved and introverted. Therefore, when it comes to networking with other youth workers, I do not feel naturally inclined to go out of my way to make it happen. Nonetheless, God knows better for me. He placed some ideas of this in my head back at the Orange Conference, and He has been making things happen ever since.
Currently, I meet with two different groups of youth workers. One is a monthly meeting that includes a wider geographical area. The other is a group of guys who live closer together. The first primarily exists for networking, while the other has grown to something beyond that. We often partner in doing ministry. God has also provided other random opportunities to network in the last year or so with conferences, retreats, and other events. All of these groups are also cross-denominational, which has been an excellent bonus!
I say all this for one main reason. God has reminded me of the importance of networking with others who are also passionate about youth ministry. It has been great to get connected with these others around me. It is a time to bounce ideas around. It is a venue to share frustrations and excitement with a group of people who share similar experiences. It is a healthy, fun time to grow beyond our little circles of influence. I would encourage everyone in ministry to find a network of other ministers in your area. Get together regularly for opportunities to share, connect, and grow. If you do not know where to start, I encourage you to check out the National Network of Youth Ministries website. They have resources available to help you connect with others.