In my last post about whether small church youth workers should or shouldn’t go to big conference, one of the reasons TO go is an opportunity to connect to other youth workers. More directly, youth networks run a-plenty in visibility at conference crossroads whether formally (through sponsorships or booths) or informally (through notes tacked up on a bulletin board).
Here’s a list of tips for what to look for in a healthy or unhealthy network:
1) Consistent meeting times: If the times waffle, its too hard to know if you can attend and calendar ahead.
2) Similar interests and affinities: If you’re the one lone small church person, it may be hard to relate to their stories.
3) Make sure the group isn’t a bunch of whiners: Maybe I’m being too blunt…but I’ve met groups both in person and online where the only agenda is to complain about their SP and parents. Avoid this environment.
4) Topical planned groups are best: Look for one that has a structure of what they’ll talk about each month. One or two subjects or tips to share ensures that the group can be focused.
5) Look for sharing time: See that there’s also a time for a balanced sharing of needs and concerns along with a focused topic.
6) Online networks: I think they can work. I’m a part of one that is very caring and concerned. I also recently left one after about two weeks because it was too big with too much trolling for controversy. I didn’t feel safe to ask questions…and if you knew me, you’d know I rarely feel unsafe in YM environments. (I can hold my own!) That particular youth ministry workers group seemed more like an issue of People magazine and I didn’t need that addiction, waiting to see what dirty laundry someone was posting next.
What else comes to mind for you? What can you think of that would be a helpful tip?