Developing Meaningful Partnerships Between Completely Different Churches
By Eddie Erwin
There are a couple of churches near me that, at least on paper, have a confusing collaboration.
One is a mega church with mostly traditional worship and significant resources. The youth director is from out of state, trying to rebuild a program that was devastated by previous staff conflict from a few years ago. The other is a new church start about 10 years old and worships in a contemporary style. The youth director is a preacher’s kid who grew up in the area and has has a history of growing mid-sized programs.
While it wouldn’t seem like these youth ministries have a lot in common, it is nothing but a truly symbiotic relationship, each growing more healthy by relying on the other. The ministries partner together on events with just themselves, sometimes traveling together to connectional activities, and participating in week-long summer work camps together.
Just as we sign off our podcasts, we don’t want you to do ministry on your own, so have included some thoughts on finding a youth ministry partner or two.
- Start small. Opportunities could be as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee with the youth worker every six weeks or so. What about getting together to make cookies to take to a nursing home? Is there some park you could meet at and share a picnic with the two groups?
- Share. Would you all be able to bring in a bit bigger worship band? What about allowing them to stay at your church for a lock-in? What about co-hosting an after sports event for the local high school? Is there a local venue that will help with fundraising or provides discounts to youth groups? Do you have a list of mental health professionals to share with a newer director?
- What do you have to learn from each other? What are the gifts that the youth workers, volunteers, students and parents have to offer? Could you, or some of your student leaders swap places for an evening? What are their denominational or church traditions that could improve the faith of your students? What are your go-to time killer, menu items, or sabbath practices?
- Don’t be afraid of reaching out. It may take a few emails or phone calls. It may take a few less than stellar attempts before you find a fruitful match. It is okay to have different comrades for different activities, as the church you may offer a few empty bus seats to will be different than the one you choose to clean up an elementary school
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