There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable youth pastors, from some great churches, to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when needed, so that they could fight the battles that we never could.
This might sound like the beginning of the super-team known as “The Avengers”, but that is only a happy coincidence. What launched was an initiative that I, along with several other youth pastors in my city, have used as a larger platform in reaching the students in a city full of churches. To be quite honest, when partnering with other youth pastors to do something special, does feel a bit like assembling a super team.
There are so many good student pastors in our area. We continually bump into each other at school and community functions. This led to good relationships being formed and a conversation that we never intended to have. We all noticed that many of our students were attending events and different services at each other’s churches. While this could have become a territorial fight, it became a launch pad for a networking strategy instead.
What We Saw
When we took a closer look at where our students were going, and what guests were popping up at each of our events, it seemed like our students were tapping into a new level of ecclesiology that isn’t found very often. Instead of a “my church vs. your church” mentality, our students were painting a beautiful picture of what it is like to be THE Church. As often as they might visit friends that go to “that” church, they were bringing those friends back with them to “our” church. We found that “our” students were committed to being in our program, but felt just as free to go and worship or hang out with the church down the street.
In talking with our students, they astounded us with their mature thinking. They would say things like, “[parachurch] ministries at school are great, but it would be so cool if our youth groups would get together!” Most of our Christian groups such as First Priority and FCA get together before school with a small percentage of those students attending “church.” Therefore, there is a gap in the unity that could potentially be experienced with our students.
What We Did
We decided it was time for a meeting of minds. A meeting to plan a strategy for organizing some type of approach to bring our differing denominations together for greater Kingdom impact. We were not sure what form this ministry network would take, but we were open-minded, and intentional about putting together a plan that worked for every church willing to be involved.
Our plan began with See You at the Pole. We decided to come together for a rally that evening for all of our students, from every school, to worship together and share testimony of what God was doing in them and in their schools. That night there were new students that we had not seen before. They had shown up or walked by the SYATP groups that morning and someone invited them to the night rally. We saw many students saved, everyone praying together, and a celebration of Jesus that was amazing. This event was the first of its kind in our city.
That Saw You at the Pole event has led to further city-wide ministry initiatives. Our “Avenger Team” have since come together for several worship, crazy, and messy game events. It seems that our students feel much more encouraged as they walk down the halls of their schools and know that there are more Christians than they knew before. When churches work together, rather than in competition with one another, everyone is better off.
Here are a few things to consider when networking with other youth ministries:
- Youth pastors have TONS of awesome and creative ideas. Make sure that there is someone who is administratively and logistically minded in order to focus all of the crazy.
- Keep the main thing the main thing. Reach across denominational lines and do not let the difference in doctrine become a hindrance for the Gospel.
- The temptation is to bring more attention to your own church. Make sure the attention is on The Church. When unchurched students come into the mix, have a plan in place to connect them in an organic way.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Ministry is crazy-busy. Our city-wide ministry took off to the point to where we had to slow it down. Don’t try to do more than you can.
Bio: With a passion for the next generation, Joseph has served in student ministry for 10+ years. Currently, he serves as the student pastor of CrossPointe Church in Madison, AL with his wife, Kinsley and son, Camden. He loves all sports, the outdoors and gaming.