Hayley James

sustaining youth workers - community part 2

by mjjames01/05/2010

The very first post in this series of blogs on sustaining youth workers was about community. The need that I found in my life to create space to share and be with others who identified with similar ministry. I wrote about how this idea resonated with a group of my friends reunited at soul survivor, the committment we all left with to work on creating this kind of community in our own lives, and promised to keep you updated.

Well over the last 8 months or so I have been exploring what this might look like in my life. I have had some great triumphs and some massive failures, from which I have learnt a lot, about myself and about this kind of community.

Intentionality

I am a planner and an organiser and so when I say I will do something I generally put that process into action. In this case it meant that I intentially looked and created opportunities to develop this kind of community. From this I have learnt that it is good to be intentional - most things don't just happen by chance, but that we cannot will things to be by hard work and determination. Relationships need to grow organically, whilst being nurtured by time, interest and joint enthusiasm. A community doesn't form over night by people getting together and saying, this is what we want and this is how we want it to be. A good community grows together as people grow together. You can start from that place of intentionality but the purpose should never override the development of relationships. Otherwise the type of community I am encouraging we form will not exist. The positives for me in being intentional has meant that I meet more frequently with my pastoral support and youth worker friends who live at a distance, and that I follow up group get togethers and new opportunities.

New opportunities

Recognising and following up new opportunities has been a big learning curve for me. Creating community doesn't have to be with those you already know, it could be with a stranger you meet at random.

I had an amazing encounter with a fabulous youth worker within my district. We were both on a panel at a childrens and youth conference sharing about our outreach work and answering questions. By chance (or divine providence) we had both also been asked to co-lead a youth and childrens day on mission. The conference was our first meeting and we hit it off straight away. For both of us it feels like we have been friends forever. Generally I am quite reserved and it takes time for real friendships to develop and yet meeting Tracey was completly different - we were friends straight away. Now we get together regurlarly to talk and be together. There are times in life when we need to recognise and hold onto the opportunities that God presents to us - even in the most random of situations.

Time

Time has always been a huge issue for me. I tend to feel guilty putting time into myself, even though I know it is valid and neccessary. What I have recognised in this area is that necessary doesn't cover it. It is essential!!! Meeting with Tracey and other youth/childrens workers in our district reminds me that we all need a place to 'air and share'. To talk about our lives, our ministries, our struggles and our joys. We need a place to question when things don't make sense and a place to celebrate when they do. We need a safe community to be honest about where we are at, without judgement or fear, where we can find acceptance, love and encouragement. We need a place where we are understood and our work is valued. That means we need to carve out space in our diaries to meet with our choosen community.

My heart more and more is for youth workers and seeing us fulfill the mission God has called us too. This is my journey so far in exploring community - I by no means have it anywhere near sorted, but I'm still trying and still seeking. My advice would be to look at the opportunties that present themselves. When they do intentionally follow them up and make time to build this kind of community. Remember relationships take time and energy to develop, you need to input both.

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Youth Work

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