Last year I celebrated 20 years of vocational ministry. I can very easily divide the 20 years into two halves. The first half was 10 years of doing ministry on my own and the second half was a decade of doing ministry in community. If I could go back and visit 20-year-old Kenny, I’d give him this advice:
“Never do ministry alone. Find your tribe.”
You might not have any staff. When it comes to family ministry, you’re it. It’s easy to feel alone and isolated when you’re the only one carrying the burden of ministry to the next generation. However, it’s entirely possible to be surrounded by a robust staff and still be doing ministry alone. In my first decade of ministry, I experienced both.
Everything changed for me a little over ten years ago when I intentionally reached out to a few others who did what I did. This was before Facebook was as big as it is now and twitter was just becoming a thing. These conversations began with back and forth emails and eventually turned into frequent phone calls and Skype meetings. Over the years, my network expanded and the time I’ve given to connecting with others has only expanded. Rarely does a day go by where I don’t have a zoom call, a text conversation or a personal interaction with someone who does what I do somewhere else.
Let me tell you three reasons why I give this as much time as I do.
- I need ideas and solutions to the problems I’m facing. Leading in the local church is such a demanding job. There’s so much work to be done and it’s easy to sacrifice “think time.” I rarely have time set aside to dream. However, when I’m connected with a group of people who do what I do that share some of their best ideas, I’m able to piggy-back on something they created. I absolutely believe that the biggest problems I’m facing could be solved by others who solved the very same problems.
- I need a community that my church can never provide. I know, that sounds a little radical, doesn’t it? All of us need a safe place to talk, vent and unpack. No one gets a youth pastor like another youth pastor. No one knows what it’s like to lead a family ministry than someone else leading a family ministry. Sometimes I just need someone three states away to talk me off a ledge. This is much cheaper than counseling. Some of my closest friendships and life-giving relationships have developed with people I only see in person one or two times a year. The 21st century is a great time to be alive!
- I could never put a price on the value of a well-connected network. The ministry world is a fairly small world. You don’t have to know too many people before you start seeing the web of connections. Since I began connecting with others outside of my ministry, I’ve benefitted in ways that I could never truly describe. My last two career transitions were significantly impacted by ministry relationships. I’ve hired some of the best staff I’ve ever worked with through recommendations from ministry relationships. Lastly, I’ve been able to bring strategic voices to speak to my teenagers, my staff or my leadership team because of ministry relationships.
I could never go back. To go a week where I didn’t have a conversation with a ministry leader outside my church is absolutely unthinkable. This is especially true of the NextGen role. Every church has a kids pastor or student pastor, but the same isn’t true of Family Ministry leaders. Resources are scarce, but the community is pretty amazing. Find your tribe and it will open new doors that weren’t there before.
This week, MINISTRY BOOST is hosting a Zoom call for the NextGen Tribe. We’ll talk about topics related specifically to the NextGen Pastor role. Bring your questions, ideas, challenges, and let’s help each other.
The call will take place on Zoom. The size of the group will determine the overall format, but it will include some people on video interacting and everyone will be able to chat, ask questions, and watch.
The Video Call will take place on Wed, Sep 12 at 1PM Eastern.