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An Army of One.

I was always a little confused about the slogan that the U.S. Army used back in the day. Aside from the biblical story of David and Goliath or the movie “The Hunger Games,” the idea of sending champions out on the battlefield to settle differences between nations is not reality.  Apparently I wasn’t alone in my confusion as “Army Strong” became the new slogan is the recruiting slogan that is used currently by the United States Army.  According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, “The reason for the replacement is believed to be that the slogan “Army of One” is contrary to the idea of teamwork.[citation needed]. . .The “One” in the slogan was an acronym, standing for Officers, Non-Commissioned, and Enlisted , the three types of Soldiers in the US Army.”

Unfortunately, many youth ministers are an “army of one.”  For a variety of reasons, we tend to turn inward to our own church or our own abilities or our own gift mix–and we become the Lone Ranger, trying to wrangle all the demands of youth ministry.  Sure, we talk to our pastor, our youth volunteers and maybe our spouse, but we end up being too nearsighted to see that there are other youth ministers out there and that they might give us insight into our ministry.

The “I am an island” syndrome can attack in both large and small churches.  At a small church in a small town, a youth minister might not have other youth ministers close by.  At a large church in a large town, a youth minister might get so caught up in the pace and demands of the many events that the days just go by with unrealized good intentions to get lunch with another youth minister.

Let me start with eight reasons we should network with other youth ministers:

  1. It provides accountability.
    Hopefully in relationship, you will not rush to a comparison of numbers or events but realize that honesty about struggles and challenges can short circuit the things that can short circuit ministry.
  2. Personal Growth – You can challenge one another.
    Perhaps you can meet with other youth ministers to exercise or to pray or to share books that are beneficial.
  3. Expands program possibilities.
    When churches share a bus to an event or a speaker for an event, it helps with the budget and the vision.  Community-wide DiscipleNow events are on the increase with churches pooling resources and gathering students to create a positive impact on a town.
  4. Share ideas and resources.
    A game book, commentary or app can make the difference in creativity.  The names of speakers, worship leaders, t-shirt vendors or web developers are valuable shared information.
  5. Can add credibility to your ministry.
    Find out what’s going on regionally, in your association, and state-wide for youth ministers.  Your exposure to networked events might allow the opportunity to lead a break out session or even to speak at someone else’s event. You cannot be invited if you are not known.
  6. Helps to identify gifts of colleagues and use those gifts.
    When we get together to plan an event, we sometimes discover that we are particularly good at one or two aspects of the planning cycle.  A shout out for diversity of backgrounds and gift

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