I am continually amazed at the wide verity of opportunities there are for youth workers to connect. In every venue there is some gathering that is hosted by some group of youth workers and you are invited. It can be a local network or a denominational one. Whenever we go to camps, the directors seem to always offer a sit-down coffee to connect with youth workers. And at every conference there are always bulletin boards inviting you to some special lunch or dinner to connect. What is amazing to me is that these events are alway poorly attended. When I think of all the youth workers in our local network, or at our denominational cluster, those of us who gather are the remnant. The special invites at camps and conferences seem to go unnoticed by the masses. My question for you is simply, "Why do you not connect?"
Every youth worker I know is so angsty about putting on an event and then bummed when students choose video games at home than this amazing event. We know the importance of gathering, building community, and building friendships. Friendships don't just happen, they take time and effort and we work hard to provide space in our ministries. But when it comes to us, we are just as fickle and busy as our students.
So, here is a simple encouragement: Model this connectivity to your students.
I know you already know that you are an amazing youth worker and working incredibly hard for the Kingdom of God. I know you have the most creative teaching series and outreach events in the entire world. I understand that a couple of hours once a month unplugged could send your entire ministry into a tailspin. I understand the the crisis that you manage on a daily basis are overwhelming and thankfully you are fully available for every one of them.
But what would happen if you could live into the reality that we need your amazingness in our lives. Your colleagues in your area and denominational clusters need your insights, ideas, spiritual depth, wisdom, and prayer. And who knows, there may be seasons you could use some of that as well. Friendships take time and effort. And the difficult thing is that you don't really know you need them until you are in desperate need of them.
For as great as things are now, there will be a time, and that time will be sooner than you think where you will need other people's insights, friendship, ideas, resources, and prayers. So instead of being a statistic, why not jump in and give of yourself. Be a part of community. Make some time in that schedule of yours and be an encouragement to your colleagues.
There is not time like the present
This next week, I will be joining my 5000 closest friends and colleagues in Atlanta for the Orange Conference. And like every conference there will be bulletin boards inviting you to connect. If you are planning on coming to this event, if you are a youth worker, would you consider making some space in your schedule to be a part of community.
Jeremy Zach and his peeps have put together one of the best networking events I have ever seen. Instead of standing around in a conference room eating pizza (which is great) he is throwing a Dodgeball Tournament! If you are competitive and need to blow off some steam, then bring your A game! If you hate dodgeball and this idea could not be any less appealing, come anyway. You will actually have more time to hang out with people and connect as we enjoy the entertainment of youth workers playing dodgeball.
I am really looking forward to this conference and this event. And if by any chance you are coming to this conference and are in need of a friend, coach, prayer partner, dodgeball partner, message me through twitter @averageym. My biggest joy is connecting with my colleagues and walking through this amazing calling to students together.