How Your Ministry Network Grows
by Kevin Boer
Do you feel stuck as you try to work together with others in reaching teenagers in your community? You may have been there from the beginning of your network -- it is pretty exciting to launch an effort to unite those in a community for youth ministry. But now that the newness has worn off and some of the core team may have moved to other ministries, you might find yourself stymied in direction or even in participation. How do you get your ministry network growing again?
The beauty of God’s creation is that everything grows. A tree starts from a seed, grows into a sapling and then produces fruit and multiplies. Likewise, in youth worker networks, there are stages of growth that ministry networks naturally go through. Healthy networks go through the stages of Starting, Growing, Serving and Multiplying.
Every youth worker network starts as an idea -- a vision of what can be. God raises up a youth leader, student or parent who is burdened about the needs of youth in their community and realizes there is no way to meet the needs of all teenagers alone. They take their burden to God in prayer -- the foundation of all healthy networks. That person reaches out to other like-minded people, who gather to pray together and share their common vision in the context of relationships.
As that vision develops - to reach and equip teenagers in the community - the small group might invite other like-minded people to come on board. The group builds relational bonds through developing trust and meeting together. The focus is on personal sharing and being a part of something bigger than just one church, organization or individual.
At some point in the life of the network, the vision drives the group to begin assessing and addressing the needs of youth in the community. The conversation turns to the question, "What does God want us to accomplish together?" The foundation of trust becomes a launching pad for ministry. The network works together to equip and disciple teenagers to be disciple makers. The fruit of networking is experienced in the lives of students being better reached, equipped, and sent out for ministry.
As the network continues to grow, they begin to focus on specific regions or schools. The network spawns other networks, as well as sub-groups that agree to collaborate within the networks. They open the door to non-traditional youth workers (parents, civic leaders, educators, marketplace leaders, students) to participate in community ministry initiatives. They also begin to broaden their vision toward other communities that need the influence of a healthy ministry network, sowing the seeds of working together to those outside their local community.
Taking it to the Next Level
No matter where your network is in its maturity, there are tools to help your group grow. Take a look at the "Interactive" below, and then check further in the InDepth section for more resources to help you continue growing your ministry network.
How Your Network Grows
These questions are designed to help you in each stage of your network. Alone - or, better, with your leadership team - take time to answer the questions that apply to your ministry network.
- What is the central idea that has drawn youth workers in your area together?
- How can you start gathering other youth workers for prayer and relationships?
- Who else in your community resonates with the desire to reach and equip youth to be transformed into disciple makers?
- What are ways you can build trust in your team of youth workers?
- What are the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of youth in your community?
- How can you work together to help meet those needs?
- How can you widen the net to bring in more youth leaders in the surrounding area?
- Are there any nearby areas outside of your community that God has laid on your heart to stimulate a network of those who want to reach teenagers?