Student Ministry Networking Top 5

Strength to Stand Post by TJ Gilliam

          Our team is currently out on our 6 week STS Tour, and the Lord has really blessed each stop. It has been incredible watching local churches network together to make each stop happen. Its incredible when ministries don’t just talk about partnering, but actually do it! Its powerful for the local churches, the community, and the students, as they gather to worship, learn, and serve together as the Body of Christ.
          Do we honestly believe we can “do this” on our own? As a young student pastor, I thought I could change the world all by myself. I did events, outings, and programs with the intent to reach every student… whether that student went to a different church or no church at all, that made no difference. It was all about building “my” ministry. It wasn’t until a few years in it that I realized that this was driven by arrogance and ego. Do I believe you should be growing spiritually AND numerically? Absolutely! Should it be at the expense of harming another ministry? Absolutely not!
          I have made an observation that I must bring to the table for all of us to think about. The cities that are experiencing a movement of the Lord are often the cities that have churches partnering with one another. In today’s post, I’d like for us to think through ministry networking. What should a Student Ministry Network do? Thanks for asking. Below are the top 5 things I believe a network of student pastors should accomplish, including a brief explanation of each.
Ministry Networking
  • Create Relationships // How can you know the motives of others if you don’t know the person? You can’t. You can operate on thoughts and what others are telling you, but isn’t it healthier (and biblical) to get to know your brother and sister in ministry and create space where you can count on one another and hold each other up when one seems to be falling down? Student Ministry is not for the faint at heart. I think it is very likely that the turnover and burnout of student pastors would slow down as relationships increase. We are much more stronger together than we are apart. Gang, to be blunt with you, we must stop looking at building “our kingdom” but instead be about “God’s Kingdom.”
  • Foster Partnerships // What’s one thing the network could accomplish together in the coming year? What’s an initiative that everyone could rally behind? Could you partner to do a community wide DNow Weekend? Could you do Summer Camp together? Could you do a 5th Qtr Outreach event together? Could you do a “Serve” Saturday in your community? Could you all do a week-long food drive for a local soup kitchen? Is another group doing an event, and needing help with setup or teardown? The possibilities are basically endless, but it is necessary for each leader in the network to buy-in. It’s not about the acknowledgment of “look what we did,” but to encourage students to “look what He did!” Sure, there are some partnerships that are more natural fitting depending on initiative. But overall, how could partnerships be made to be about the Kingdom on a larger scale?
  • Opportunity for Sharpening // There’s always room to grow. As you build relationships, you will find that there are leaders that have knowledge in certain areas that you need sharpening in. Maybe you are just getting started, but there is a veteran in your network that can help you get your feet planted in your city. You are struggling and you know there is someone in your network that is an incredible listener and will pray for you. You are thinking about hosting an event, but aren’t sure where to start, how about asking the guy in the network that is incredible at getting students to events. A healthy student ministry network will provide opportunities for leaders to sharpen leaders. This is healthy for everyone: the church, the community, the student, families, and the Kingdom. As true relationships are created and trust is established, our egos are dropped and we become leaders who are also learners. Out of the Top 5, this is the hardest one because it requires the most trust.
  • Community Synergy // We all have calendars- Personal Calendars, Family Calendars, Student Ministry Calendars, etc. At each network gathering, I would suggest everyone pull out their ministry calendars to compare dates (This is especially important in smaller cities). Why? It goes back to relationships, partnerships, and sharpening. Let’s not schedule our biggest events on top of each other. This can create confusion with some students and minimize effectiveness through the community. I do realize that each ministry will have its own events with its on initiatives. I also understand that there are only so many strategically good dates for your events, but can your network find a way to synergize your calendars, partner when possible, and have each ministry praying for the other’s events so that God may be honored? This may cause you inspect your calendar to decide whether you are doing an event “just because” or if your event has real purpose behind it. If it does, invite the network to join you either by coming or in prayer!
  • Charge of Principle // This is a different way of saying, PRAY. Your calling may be to student ministry, but your responsibility is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. This begins in prayer. The network should be a place where leaders come together to do all the above, but to ultimately lead to prayer together and for each other. A healthy network is not a place to come to gripe and complain about your church and your frustration with your pastor or deacons, but a place to come and know that this group of leaders are for you and with you. This is cemented when you begin to pray for one another. What should be prayed for in the network? Pray for boldness, courage, vision, discernment, partnership, direction, and revival. Pray for  the lost, the hurting, the broken, and the lonely. Pray that the Lord would use your network to lead in such a way that unites the body of Christ, and brings revival to your city as they realize the Glory of God.
 Last Thing
          If you are currently involved in a student ministry network, would like coaching for a struggling one, or need help getting one established, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can email me at [email protected] I would be more than willing to come to your city and help in any way necessary!
At all costs, Jesus
TJ Gilliam