This will sounds grossly arrogant, but I don’t “need” a network. Now, let me clarify, I do not need a traditional network. I’m in certain category, I am a 45 +, 27 year youth ministry veteran. Many networks are sponsored to pimp programs or sell stuff. Think of the timeshare you sat through to get the free ticket to x park in Orlando. Was it wort it? This is not to say I don’t need Christian friendships or professional peers, I just have a different context for those.
So, whether it is Greg Stier from Dare 2 Share doing a luncheon 2 hrs from me or a company at YS doing a network deal at a conference or a local network in my area, I apply the following rules to all of them.
. Here are a few reasons I’ll skip a network meeting:
1. I’ll skip it if we are only meeting so you can share your agenda and why we should jump in/buy your stuff (aka pimping your stuff )
I have enough going on. I don’ t need another thing to sponsor.
2. I’ll skip it if I feel there isn’t space to share my experience or talents.
Like I said, I am in a different boat and the context of many meetings don’t apply to me. I’m at the point in life and career where sharing and passing on what I know is of utmost importance. Hence this blog, my Youtube Channel, my podcast, etc. If there’s not open space, within a network meeting, to help someone, I check out.
3. I’ll skip it if I think you are going to waste my time (meeting just to meet)
Once again, meeting to meet, unless I am with my closest friends (shout out to my Hueytown crew), is a a waste of time. I don’ need a guest speaker. I can watch what I want or need on YouTube.
4. I’ll skip it if there is no networking.
I have been to many kinds of network meetings, seated around round tables, and I left without having really networked. To me, and to most people I think, networking is not a meeting or a guest speaker. Networking is for sharing ideas, making friends, and praying with those who share your burden for the next generation. A network sponsors role is to create the context where these things can happen.
5. I’ll skip it if I am not challenged to be more.
I want to network with people who challenge me, challenge the way I think about ministry, life, and faith. I don’t need a pep talk, I need answers and life on life relationships. I have enough surface relationships, thank you.
6. I’ll skip it if I sense I won’t walk away smarter or better than I walked in.
This goes back to the principles of networking which is relationship. You many also say, “How arrogant.” Go ahead and say that. Let’s see what you’re like after 20 years, you have a family, you have kids in college, and see if a network meeting is the same draw for you. I love relationships and new ideas. I want those at my network meeting.
7. I’ll skip it if I feel like I’ll be shamed for skipping it.
If you run a network or host a network, you should love your network and value the people in it. Shaming someone because they’ve missed or because you think that person doesn’t “buy in” to your philosophy is the wrong direction.
Advice to network leaders, Treat youth pastors like you would the kids that come to your youth ministry:
Always keep your channels open.
Send friendly reminders that you missed them.
Offer them the opportunity to contribute (they won’t skip as much)
Love them fiercely.
So, whether you think I am arrogant, pretentious, or just crazy, that’s o.k.. I know me. I am who I am and you are who you are. I’m getting ready to “play the back nine” , as some say, and I want a network of people who will make playing the back nine as fun, informative, crazy, and as fruitful as the front nine.
You may say “If you’re so dissatisfied, Why don’t you start your own network then.?” Good idea, and I have. Most of my networking these days are online so you can get with me on with of my Facebook page Youth Ministry University or Disciple Project Ministries. You can also interact and leave comments on my Youtube channel and always comment back.
What about you? Do you have a youth ministry network? Do you love it or hate t? Do you skip it for any of the reasons above? Which ones?
If you are a network leader frustrated with how your network, do any of the above principles apply to you? Which ones?
Why do you think people are skipping your network meetings?