One of the goals I have for my students is to experience their faith beyond our church. I do not want my students to grow up thinking God only works through a certain type of church or worship style. Is is important to expose our students to other cultures in order to achieve this goal.
This can be accomplished in part through mission trips. However, partnering in ministry with local and culturally diverse churches can take it to a whole other level of relationship building and understanding. It will help students gain a different perspective for their everyday life. Collaborating across cultures can help both ministries.
So how do you get started with cross cultural collaboration in youth ministry? Great question. Here are few of ideas.
Make personal connections with youth leaders and ministries of other cultures. I am always seeking to grow as a minister and to grow my ministry. I regularly seek out other leaders that I can learn from and that can make me better. If you take the principle of always learning and growing and add a cross cultural intentionality, you have a good basis for personal relationship and ministry collaboration. I ]regularly call churches of other cultures and invite them to a lunch. I share that I am looking to learn from other youth leaders and would love to learn from them and their ministry. I always offer to buy food. What youth leader doesn’t like a free lunch? These lunchtime conversations have led to some great friendships over the years. One of these is Greg. He is a pastor of an African American church down the road from my church and the one who taught me the lunch strategy. 15 years ago Greg invited me to lunch. I couldn’t believe how interested he was in me and my ministry. This was the first of many lunch meetings together.
Make ministry connections with leaders from another culture. I also invite the youth leaders I meet to our local youth leader network. Having a multicultural youth leader network allows for continual collaboration. Currently represented in our network are several white churches, a couple of African American churches, two multicultural churches, one international church and one Korean church. While our network is diverse, there are many cultures not represented in our group and we have room to grow. Our network has learned that we are better together and, in the midst of the racial tension in our world, our youth ministries are bringing people together and serving as a shining light to those around us. After all we are one Church.
Do something TOGETHER with a ministry from another culture. My lunches with Greg not only led to a friendship but to our ministry doing things together. We would hold worship gatherings where our students would work together creating a worship experience for their peers. My students would be a part of his church’s sports ministry and his students would attend our outreach events. It was a great collaboration where we not only did better ministry together, but our student who attend the same schools were doing ministry with one another and holding each other accountable.
As the body of Christ we have an opportunity to show the unity that we have in Christ. We can be the fulfillment of the prayer Jesus prays in John 17:21. “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”
Hopefully these couple of steps will get you started in cross cultural collaboration as you seek to raise up students who will have an impact on our culture.