Welcome to the internet! I’m glad you joined us today. You’re about three clicks away from everyone and everything. Feel free to just browse for awhile, and if there’s anything you’re trying to find, just ask google.
Oh? You’re looking for youth ministers to connect with? No problem! We’ve got them by the thousands. There are blogs, tumblrs, twitter accounts, facebook pages, and websites for just about any type you’re looking for.
What’s that? You want…a real person? We’ve got Skype… Oh, you want ACTUAL face time?
Oh, well, we don’t do that.
IRL is a snappy internet acronym that stands for “In Real Life” and I think it’s funny. It’s funny because we have to differentiate between what happens on the internet and what happens while we aren’t glued to a phone, tablet, or computer screen. The difference can be really startling. Real face time can’t be replaced with Skype dates. There’ just something God put inside us that desires personal contact.
If you want to get in touch with other youth ministers, you could hear from the best of the best within seconds on the internet. You could listen to their podcasts, read their blogs, follow their tweets and even get a Skype conversation if you’re lucky!
But don’t miss out on something real important: IRL time with youth workers in your area.
Whether you’re new to the city or a seasoned veteran, let me encourage you to reach out to a youth worker close to you. They might be the person who works at the “other” church in your town. They might be the one who works at the church of a different denomination than yours. You may be full-time, they might be part-time. They may have 5 kids, and you have 500 or vice-versa.
Reach out to those who do youth ministry in your area. Go grab coffee. Or, if like me, you live in a city that doesn’t believe in Starbucks, go grab some Mexican food instead.
Take the time to:
Pray with them for youth ministry in your area
Pray for their families
Ask how their families are handling having a youth minister in the mix
Ask what they are struggling with in ministry
Find out what they’ve learned from God recently
See if there’s any way you can be a resource to them
Let them vent to you about their frustrations
Brainstorm ways you could work together in the future
You may find a valuable partner in ministry, or someone to keep you accountable to family time, or just someone you can call and yell at when if you said the same words in your office you’d be looking for another job.
Reach out sometime today and talk to another youth worker. IRL.
Ronald Long is the youth minister at FBC Lexinton, TN (@fbclexyouth) and blogs at ronaldlong.org.