Building Effective Youth Ministry Partnerships
by Kevin Boer
You may be starting out in ministry or have been there for decades. Either way you may have realized that no one should do youth ministry alone. However, it can be a real struggle building partnerships to reach and equip teenagers in your community.
When I was at the Simply Youth Ministry conference I saw over a hundred people sign up at the booth to become Network members. All these people desired to work together in partnership with others to reach and equip teenagers in their community. Some of them shared their discouragement because they are having a hard time building sustainable partnerships with other youth workers. Many shared issues like too little time, too little trust, too big of egos or too many logos.
What do good partnerships look like?
Partnerships are built on trust and time. As we get to know each other we can develop deeper partnerships with one another. Ben O’Connell developed a partnership continuum that shows the levels of effective partnerships. This blog is adapted from his work, Good partnerships focuses on the actions of Communicate, Coordinate, Cooperate and Collaborate. There are also practical questions below designed to facilitate discussions that will help mature the partnership to the next level.
Build the relationship and share who you are and what you are doing. Listen to them and find out who they are and what they are doing. All partnerships are based on some kind of interaction. At this level the interaction is low commitment and trust is being established.
- Tell me about yourself. What is your passion and purpose that God has given you?
- How is your soul today?
- What is going well for you?
- How can I pray for you?
Look for common ground between your ministries and interests. Work your ministry programming in tandem. It is checking with your potential partners and making sure your event schedules do not overlap. At this level some level of trust has been established and the commitment level is starting to rise. It is like going on a first date. The opportunity is to join an event they are doing or have them join your event.
- What is your ministry doing?
- Do you have any events or strategies that we can be a part of?
- Would you like to hear what our ministry is doing?
- Would you like to join in what we are doing?
Do something together. At this level trust has been growing and the commitment level is higher. The opportunity is to plan an event or ministry together. It is more of a one time basis hopefully looking towards doing more together.
- What can we do together that we can’t do alone?
- Where do you see common ground?
- What need do you see in our community that we can help meet together?
- What event or strategy can we develop to meet that need?
Work in partnership where your two organizations weave together to develop a larger strategy or project sharing resources of time, talent, training and treasure. At this level the partnership is hitting on all cylinders. There is high trust and high commitment to the cause. As Danny Pyon, a networker in
- What are some long term strategies that we can work together to accomplish?
- What ways can we partner together to meet the needs in our community?
- What resources can we share to meet those needs?
- What is our joint mission and vision that we will accomplish together?
As we deepen our relationship the trust built allows for deeper levels of partnership. If trust is strained then it is hard to mature in the partnerships. If you are looking to start partnering with others then download our QuickStart booklet. It will help you start a network of youth workers in your sphere of influence. If you are moving forward with your partnerships, please let me know of your success. We are looking to share the great ways networks are partnering in their communities.