REAL Youth Ministry Community

giftsYouth workers.  Answer this.  Do you live in TRUE community with people?  I don’t mean church members.  I’m not considering students.  I’m talking about folks you can be totally authentic around…and who get it.  Do you live in true community with other youth workers?

Let me tell you something….I do.  For the first time in  over 20 years, I know TRUE community with my youth ministry colleagues.  The letters in this photo show it.

We’ve had some ‘hard knocks’ in ministry – some people would call them sucker punches to the throat – these past few years.  You know what I mean if you been in church work longer than four days.  People you served and loved and walked alongside who just ripped the rug out from under you….by cutting your legs off.

A few years prior to this series of unfortunate events, we were introduced to a group of youth workers across the country.  We were blessed to begin developing relationship with them.  Little did we know why God had brought them into our lives.  For such a time as this.

Evaluate your youth ministry cadre of companions!

1.  Do you know anything personal about them?  If you don’t know about their kids – their spouse’s name – or some of their insecurities….you aren’t in true community.

2.  Have you spent time together working?  If you haven’t spent some time dreaming and doing youth ministry together…even if it’s just the sharing of ideas….you aren’t in true community.  We live and breathe that stuff — it can’t be extricated from the friendship!

3.  Have you ONLY spent time working together?  Then you aren’t in true community.  If all your network of ministry buddies does is plan community events, you aren’t in community – you’re in a co-op.

4.  Have you ever prayed aloud with one another?  Really?  You should.  Nothing builds community like gathering two or three together and calling on the One who shows up when we do that.

5.  Have your spouses ever met?  Listen – they need community more than we ever did!  Get those girls (or guys) together!!!

Last week, Katie and I were talking about our friends.  We were wondering how much longer it was going to take for outside observers to start acting like Job’s ‘friends’…wondering what we were doing (or did) wrong to have to endure this season…

My community had no idea we were in that dark, dysfunctional place.  And they showed up by the prompting of the Holy Spirit – laid out before the beginning of time – for such a time as this.  Not one condemnation.  Not one accusation.  Not one doubt about our faithfulness or fortitude to follow Christ EXACTLY how He’s asked us to…into the hard place this time.

THAT’S community – and if you’re a youth pastor – you need to get some.  The letters are still coming.


Author: Darren Sutton

I've been in student ministry nearly 30 years…which generally just confirms how much I still don't know. Some days I'm the pizza-eating, over-responding, teaching-on-the-fly, desperate-for-volunteers, frustrated-with-co-workers youth leader that we all are. And sometimes…I knock it out of the park. I'm everywhere on social media that you are!

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