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Networking To Reach Teenagers For Christ

By National Network of Youth Ministries

The Everyschool Alliance - The National Network of Youth Ministries - through its member ministries, is made up of more than 25,000 fulltime youth leaders, 175,000 adult volunteers, 2.5 million students and thousands of local churches and youth organizations. There are more than 700 local networking efforts taking place. Together, we already have a presence in the communities of all 56,000 schools we seek to reach!

Since there are many churches and youth organizations often represented at each school, we must cooperate if we are going to succeed at sharing Christ with every teenager. Youth workers should also model that same kind of unity and cooperation by networking in the community.

The purpose of networking on a campus and in a community is to foster...

RELATIONSHIPS (Who we are) which are built on prayer, encouragement, and unity.

This results in...

STRATEGY (What we do) including the sharing of resources, cooperative training, combined events, and discovering a plan to reach students on every middle, junior high and high school in our area.

Commission ... Cooperation... Cord
There is a strong biblical basis for cooperative ministry. It is vital that the Church - the body of Christ focus its efforts on fulfilling the Great Commission together in each community. It shows our obedience to the command of our Lord. Linking together demonstrates the heart of God as reflected in Jesus' prayer in John 17:20-23: "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know (NIV) It is wiser to combine our efforts than to work alone. Solomon wrote, 'Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work ... a cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9,12 (NIV)

So where do you start?

Here are some networking basics, as shared by experienced coordinators of youth worker Networks. Most of these principles also apply to students working together on a campus.

Take the Lead
A movement needs passionate leadership - one or more people with a vision to fulfill the Great Commission in your area. This person might not be a youth worker, but has a burning desire for every young person to get a chance to respond to Jesus Christ.

Clarify Your Vision
This begins - and continues with prayer'. Ask God to make His plan clear for reaching your community. Then write it down in a mission statement as a starting place for your Network. Habakkuk 2:2 says, 'Write down the revelation ... so that a herald may run with it." (NIV) Ask God to lead you to others of like mind, and pray with them for clarity.

Build a Team
As you pray, expect God to help you establish a care group of others who "own" a similar vision. Continue praying together about what He wants you to do. Get to know one another personally, allowing barriers to break down and trust to grow. Your relationships will be increasingly personal as you pray for and encourage one another. Many groups find their praying is more effective when they intercede for schools or churches on site. Try "prayer walking" at each target campus. Be creative!

Grow a Strategy
As you pray; God will reveal specific plans to help fulfill your vision. He will show you what to do! This may include any of the following:

-Monthly Network meetings
-Student leadership training
-A citywide outreach event
-Concerts of prayer
-Youth worker training (volunteers and paid)
-Expanding your prayer base
-See You at the Pole or other student prayer strategies
-Establishing student-led Bible clubs
-Plans to establish ministries to every school
-Other strategies

Everything your Network does should ultimately help fulfill your purpose: to build up the body of Christ - on and off campus - so that every student can be exposed to the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Your Network will probably not say "yes" to every youth event that comes along - that's okay! Pray and ask God for discernment to keep your movement on track with what God wants you to do.

The National Network of Youth Ministries offers membership for youth workers and resources for those who coordinate Networks. To receive membership applications or the Coordinator's Manual, call 1-800-FOR-NNYM.

Expand Your Base
In your community, God has already placed His people in key positions to help fulfill your vision. Keep expanding your team to include other concerned adults with a heart to reach every student. God knows the big picture. Ask Him to lead you to them. Ask, 'Who are the people in this city that are ready to participate in this vision?"

These may include:
-Other youth workers - paid and volunteer
-Men's groups (such as Promise Keepers)
-Women's groups (such as Moms in Touch)
-School personnel (administrators, teachers, coaches, etc.)
-Community organizations (DARE, MADD, YMCA, etc.)
-Business people (individuals, or service clubs such as Rotary, etc.)

Work Your Plan
If the goal of presenting the gospel to every young person will be reached, it will take steady effort by a Network in every school, city, town or county. Keep that vision at the forefront of all you do. Come alongside student leaders with regular training and encouragement.

Unfortunately, most Christian student leaders report that they feel they are "on their own" with little support from their youth leaders. Yet most believe they are trying to apply the things they are learning in their youth group! Some Networks sponsor monthly or even weekly training times for leaders from multiple schools to come together to exchange ideas, pray together and be nurtured by caring adults.

Persevere
A Network's momentum ebbs and flows - don't be surprised when it happens to you! Networks that last realize they are in a spiritual battle, keep their focus on the target, work through obstacles and adapt to change. They reinvent themselves as necessary to continue reach mg out to every student in every school in their community.

Multiply Yourself
Is there is a functioning Network in your "Jerusalem"? How about in your Judea - and Samaria? How could you use your influence to encourage or help launch a Network in other communities or schools near you? These same principles could be used to establish a movement there.

As cooperation spreads across the nation, the vision to see Every Student, Every School and Every Community reached for Christ will become a reality!
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