It was a balmy November evening in Orlando when several youth workers gathered for the inaugural CBF Youth Workers Retreat. This event was sponsored by the CBF Youth Ministry Network and led by Chanon Ross, coordinator for the Connections Project at Princeton’s Institute for Youth Ministry. Our brief time together began with the question “Who does for youth ministers what they do for youth and parents?” We were given the opportunity to name the people that make up our individual “networks,” those people that offer us encouragement, strength, and safe haven in our times of need. While these people are of great importance to us, we still find ourselves in need of vocational friendships. As Chanon pointed out, “Vocational friendships are like prayer; absolutely essential but easy to neglect.” Having reaped the benefits of strong vocational relationships, I can attest that the ways that have sustained me through difficult situations while infusing me with the energy and creativity to be a better minister. My firm belief is that we can all be better at what we do if we do it together.
Our retreat concluded with a discussion about what the CBF Youth Ministry Network could be. There were a number of ideas shared and suggestions made, and it seemed as though they could be categorized as resource development, relationship building, and advocacy/support for youth workers. While these will be prioritized and fleshed out in the days and months to come, I came away encouraged by the excitement and commitment of those that attended the retreat. The need for this kind of network is great, and it feels as though God has put the people and the resources in place to make it a sustainable reality. Continue to pray for those that serve the youth in your congregations, and encourage them to find a vocational friend or two along the way.