Abraham Lincoln once observed, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
That’s a great concept, especially when in a free market culture we’re used to “Apple vs PC,” “Coke vs Pepsi,” “McDonalds vs Burger King,” and so on. Even in Christendom, you can find yourself consciously or unconsciously at odds with another church across town. We talk a good game about how we’re all a part of the Kingdom together, yet still feel tense when someone is missing from our row of chairs and tags themselves online in a row of chairs at another church.
Aren’t we all supposed to be serving Jesus together?
We know that, right? Maybe that’s what keeps us from actually doing it.
“Early in my youth ministry career, I learned something kind of bizarre. I tried to connect with respected youth leaders in my area in hopes of gaining a little help from their years of wisdom. I had hoped they might take this new guy under their wing to help expand some influence in our large community of lost teens.Youth leaders like you love our Jesus-centered resources!
Instead, what I learned was that they were similar to football coaches. They had their successful ministry playbook and did their best to keep it private. No follow up emails or phone calls, no follow-through on their “Yeah man, let’s get together” after an unexpected bumping in to. It seemed that this was their home field and they weren’t about to let some small-time coach come in and make their fans switch jerseys.”
Earl goes on to observe how since he’s taken the other approach and reached out to younger peers he’s seen some benefits of it:
- Venting!: “Consider it counseling without having to lay on a couch. And honestly, who can understand you better than someone who is fighting the same battle?”
- A community playbook: “It took me a while to get used to this, but when my local youth pal and I started to share playbooks it was amazing. We’ve shared message ideas, stage design ideas, volunteer training ideas.”
- Power in numbers: “My buddy and I have kids who go to the same schools and live in the same neighborhoods. Honestly, why shouldn’t we work together to build a mega-team of soul-winners?”
You really need to read all of what Earl offers.
- In what ways have you felt a conscious or unconscious tension with other churches/ministries?
- Do you sense greater “rivalry” of “churches vs churches” or “youth ministry vs youth ministry?”
- Is it fair to assume that if you’ve invested years into a student that they shouldn’t just “up and leave” one day to go to another youth group?
- How do you view other youth workers around your city – as a network of peers who do what you do (but everyone keeps a safe distance from) or as true co-laborers that you can share life/ministry with?
Please chime in. Let’s learn from each other on this. Thanks!