In your journey of youth ministry, have you ever thought, “I really could use someone to bounce this question, or thought, or idea off of?” Have you ever been sitting there at youth group and wondered, “Does this happen to anyone else? Or just me?”
I believe that youth ministry (like a lot of ministry) can be very isolating and lonely. The more isolated we become, the more dangerous to our souls ministry becomes. Just like a predator will isolate its prey to pick it off from the pack, when we are separated from community we become vulnerable to all sorts of strategies of the enemy – fear of failure, insecurity, even pride.
I have been in youth ministry since I was a teenager. I am now 39 years old. In the last 20 years I would say the most important asset to me for longevity in youth ministry (besides prayer) has been ministry friendships in our region and our nation that I’ve had the privilege of enjoying. I am blessed to be part of a very close-knit network of youth workers in the East Region. They welcomed me in years ago when we adopted in, and I’ve had the chance to return the favor to others many times over.
This value is not only important to me, but it is vital to our national leadership as well. Because of this Phil Strout and Rick Olmstead asked me in the beginning of the summer to begin to create a national network for youth workers. The best way to do this though, is not through me or national, it is through grass roots relational connections.
To this end I have been working with the Regional Leaders to select one person from each region to serve as a Regional Youth Leader. This person is not suddenly going to take over everything in the region. Not at all. They are being called to serve the region, and to connect the region relationally so that no youth worker can say, “I don’t know what’s going on in our region for youth” or “I don’t feel connected to other youth workers.”
The goals of this team are to
- Connect youth workers in each region through regular emails, occasional online forums, and yearly events where they are feasible
- To make sure that there is a stellar teen event in every region
- To help disseminate resources that become available at the national level, through to the regional and local levels
My encouragement to you, then, is to connect with your new Regional Youth Leader if you haven’t already! They will be reaching out to you, but you can reach out to them! It is difficult to know, sometimes, who is the “youth person” in any given church in the Vineyard, especially since we have such a variety of churches. So please reach out! You can connect with them here: http://dev-vineyard-youth.pantheon.io/regional-youth-leaders/
Also – I would encourage you to make time to be together. This will take intentionality and sacrifice, but it is worth it! I’m looking forward to seeing a more connected, stronger, and unified network of youth workers in the Vineyard USA!