Top 10 Networking Benefits
by Brian Aaby
Student Ministry Leadership in many ways is a culture in and of itself. I love being a part of this unique and diverse tribe! I am a firm believer that we (Youth Leaders) are better together. In nearly 20 years of being “in charge” of a variety of ministries (church and parachurch) I have found great value and blessing in being connected to other youth leaders through gatherings of all sorts-- local, national and virtual.
Though all three avenues of networking exist, the one that I value and push the most is the local network. Over the last 15 years of ministry, the local network has very much been a refuge, resource and sometimes a prime ministry outlet. If you’re reading this and don’t feel connected, please consider linking up with others in your area...perhaps you will experience something similar to my top 10 reasons I network.
Ten: Events - I think the "knock," or reason some have chosen to not network is that they feel networks are always trying to do something together. I have NOT found this to be the case. Our groups have rarely done "all group" events--our meetings rarely are driven by an agenda to “do” things together. However, we’ve seen lots of partnerships (two to three groups) take place as a result of like-mindedness discoveries (i.e. three groups doing an all-nighter together).
Nine: Food and Beverage - Not going to lie, I have eaten well and enjoyed some good coffee at network gatherings. Just calling a spade a spade, networking has given me a good chance to feast.
Eight: Camps and Retreats - Over the last few years I have seen some of the best camps and retreats be prayed up, planned out and delivered as a result of the collaborative efforts of folks in our networks. For instance, one network I am a part of has two different winter retreats, the more pentecostal churches all link up and the less charismatic churches do a different one- but many ideas are shared all together as the planning is done! It’s a sweet gig that leads to two gigs!
Seven: Social - Of course the meetings are somewhat social, but the gatherings have brought about deep friendships, some of these friendships have gone far beyond the ministry connection as we socialize together with spouses and families and "do life" together (including babysitting swapping)!
Six: Spiritual/Ministry Retreat - Youthmark has a retreat called "Glean" that is specifically for Youth Pastors and Spouses. These getaways truly serve as one part marital retreat, one part ministry enhancement and many parts social! Gleaning is an old testament principle of leaving 10% of your best crop for others in need to glean from. At these retreats we bring our best 10% and share ideas for ministry, marriage and life! I have been honored to lead a couple of these for my own networks!
Let's hit the pause button for now as you digest, dream and think through how networking has or can benefit you. If you are not involved in a network, I think these first five give you enough reason to jump onboard, but if you are still not convinced, stay tuned and we will go live with the top five on Monday!