The Value of Networking

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We live in a world connected by networks—social, virtual, electronic. The list goes on and on. No matter where you find yourself, you are tied to an unseen web of community that connects you with others. This web is built by a set of commonalities you share with a group of individuals. At home, you’re connected with your family by a bond of love and ambition to navigate life together. When you attend your child’s ballgame, you’re united with a dozen other families while cheering together for the team name that’s written across every jersey. While at church, you’re joined by possibly hundreds of others who align with your beliefs and core convictions. These commonalities tend to drive us to communicate and build relationships with those people around us.

 

What is it inside of us that pushes us toward this connectivity? According to an article titled “Social Relationships and Health,” “Scientists have long noted an association between social relationships and health. More socially isolated or less socially integrated individuals are less healthy, psychologically and physically, and more likely to die.” Why this phenomenon is true is unclear, but as Christians we know from many examples in the Bible that community and relationships with others are vital.

 

While God and Adam had friendship in the Garden of Eden, God still said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”

 

God wants us to have relationships!

 

You’re likely nodding your head in agreement to this point, but if relationships are so important, then why do children’s ministry leaders frequently have a tendency to be lone rangers and attempt to develop ideas and strategies to reach the kids in their community on their own?

 

Let’s be honest for a minute. Trying to achieve certain numerical goals in our ministries and striving to have the best looking children’s church facilities doesn’t always bode well with an initiative to network with others. This business-like competitive approach to ministry, while innocent in the beginning, can undergo a metamorphosis because of our sin nature. It can become a corruption that causes our pride to inflate, an aggressive attitude to surmount everything we do, and assembles invisible, almost impenetrable walls and barriers between ourselves and likeminded congregations in our communities.

 

Obviously, these symptoms are counter-intuitive to Christian culture. The kingdom of God cannot progress while undergoing a civil war. We MUST network with one another not only for our personal health, but also, quite frankly, for the health of our ministries. Here are five vital benefits of networking with other children’s ministry leaders.

 

  1. Friendships

I’ve seen many friendships born from a common interest such as ministry. I have multiple friends I call and see on a regular basis who started because we all work in a church.

  1. Wisdom

When you need advice, where do you often turn? Likely it is from someone who has walked in your shoes or has been in a similar situation. We need connections in ministry from others who are in similar situations as ours.

  1. Help

You’ve heard the saying “Two heads are better than one.” This is true in ministry as well. When trying to develop a program or accomplish a goal with an event, it’s best to have help from people who have similar goals.

  1. Education

A popular Proverb says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Leaders realize their education is never complete. Gleaning knowledge and wisdom from others in ministry will serve great eternal benefits for you and your ministry.

  1. Growing the Kingdom

God’s plan for the church is that we all work together to spread the Gospel. While we may not all agree on every aspect of theology, we do agree on the essentials—Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection as being the only way to redemption and eternal life in heaven. It’s from those common bonds that we must unite together to reach the world.

 

Now that we’ve taken a look at the obvious reasons to network with other ministry leaders, what are the most successful ways to network? The good news is that when it comes to networking, the world has never been smaller.

 

Twitter

Twitter is an extremely easy way to find people with similar interests and ideas. If you use Twitter, I’m probably not telling you anything new, but if you don’t, here’s one of the most valuable assets you can use to network with children’s ministry leaders. It’s #Kidmin. When people post tweets and include #kidmin, it allows others interested in the topic to find it easily. Try it out! Just go to Twitter.com and search for “kidmin” in the search bar.

 

Facebook

Facebook, while not used as much for networking as Twitter, can be a great source of encouragement and meaningful conversation between children’s ministry leaders. Several children’s ministry groups have been created. You can also search for “children’s ministry” in the Facebook search bar to find many groups, resources, and pages.

 

Webinars

While networking with other children’s ministry leaders online, you will encounter opportunities to participate in webinars (online seminars), online chats, and online training events for children’s ministry, many of which are totally free!

 

Conferences

At a conference, you will find numerous opportunities to meet others in ministry, and you can be intentional about connecting with others who may be in positions similar to yours (same church size, same denomination, same region). If you do some searching online, you will find there are many conferences on children’s ministry that are hosted annually, including regional, statewide, and nationwide.

 

Local Networking Groups

Have you ever wanted to meet up with other local ministry leaders from your area? If a networking group does not exist where you are, maybe you could start one! It only takes five simple steps:

 

  1. Personally contact other children’s ministry leaders in your area via

phone or email.

  1. Decide on a communication method between everyone who wants to be involved.
  2. Choose a time and location to have your first gathering.
  3. Decide on a meeting topic.
  4. Stay in touch after the meeting.

 

Relationships fuel so much of what we do in ministry. The more connections you have with others, the more you will benefit. A well-known African proverb says it best, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

 

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