When I worked in GA, there was an existing network of youth workers who met regularly. I joined the group shortly after I started ministry and was sad to leave the group when I left the ministry at that church. The connection I made with the other youth workers helped me get through a ton of stuff. Since I was new to ministry, I was able to glean a lot of wisdom from a few of the more seasoned youth workers. I was even able to get some mentoring (which was greatly beneficial).
Then I moved to a small town in southern IL. There is no youth worker network. There is really not too many youth ministers (part or full time). A majority of the youth workers in this area are volunteer. The youth ministries have, in the past, not really done too much together. I wanted to change that.
I know the benefit to having a network of youth workers, so I have been working on starting a network in this area. As the network grows and changes, I am going to try to share insights and lessons learned with you (the reader). So, this is the first of many posts on how to start a local youth worker network.
How to start a local youth worker network:
1. Become familiar with your area.
Are there a lot of full time youth ministers? What is the average youth ministry like? Do the youth workers have other jobs? Is there a history of interaction between the local ministries?
This step can be done fairly quickly, depending on how long you have been in your area. Unless you understand the area you are ministering in, you will have a hard time working together with other youth workers.
The importance of this step is that it is foundational. Once you understand and become familiar with the area, you can plan for the best way to connect and encourage the area youth workers.
This step is also beneficial to you as you start a new ministry.