Discovering the Strengths of Your Network
by Kevin Boer
Do you know your network’s strengths?
Networks, like people, develop their own personality and strengths. A network’s strengths are the qualities that help your network live out the unique vision God has given you for your community.
In this training you have become familiar with the four priorities of a healthy network — prayer, relationships, strategy and resources. If being a productive network is to emphasize each of these priorities in a pursuit of excellence and optimum health, then it makes sense to evaluate how you are doing. What does your network do especially well? Where does it need to grow? The following examples will help define what is meant by each priority. They may stimulate some ideas and discussion. Then, take some time to work through the linked “Discovering the Strengths of Your Network.” This important exercise is a simple and specific tool to evaluate your network and learn something new about its personality!
When this is a strength of your group, your network loves to pray. Sometimes you may lose track of time because everyone is so engrossed in what they are praying about. Others may wonder if you get anything done, but you know better. The intimate time your community spends with the Savior gives the supernatural strength to empower teenagers to reach their community. Jeremy Del Rio, NNYM’s New York City metro coordinator, has shared that, for the past 15 years, pastors have gathered just to pray for the needs of youth in their community.
Your network fosters deep friendships. You enjoy hanging out, but it goes deeper — effective ministry partnerships have developed as you have spent quality time together. Your students are aware of your friendships with other youth leaders and they know many of them because they have seen you do life and ministry together. Your team approach to leading brings balance to your network. In San Diego County, one network gathers monthly and is veryintentional about building relationships. Knowing how important it is to develop trust before they collaborate, they focus a lot of their time getting to know one another. This empowers the times they gather to plan events.
Your network answers the call to reach every student. You have an action plan that is being accomplished. Some in your network may think your gatherings are too task-oriented. But the effort reaps great rewards as you see teenagers equipped and transforming their community. In Pennsylvania, Travis Deans is working with networks to create “nine-month mission trips” of teenagers engaging their campuses for Christ.
Your network surfaces a wide range of resources to reach and equip teenagers. You have marshalled the time, talent and treasure of people and ministries in your churches and community to work together to help teenagers become disciple-makers. A wider net of youth workers, business and civic leaders, parents, and teenagers have a voice in your network. Adam Fischer is the executive director at Central Wisconsin Youth For Christ. He develops networks with students, youth workers, business people and community leaders who come together to share resources and focus on the needs of teenagers in their community.
Maximize your Strengths
It’s been said that “a strength overdone becomes a weakness.” In each of the examples above, we have cited networks that are very stronger in one dimension. But healthy networks seek to be multi-dimensional. Start where you’re strong: networks that work within their strengths and passions can broaden over time to encompass the other priorities of healthy networks. Each network has a unique DNA!
The flip side of maximizing your strengths is to attain balance, and exercise your lesser abilities as well as your stronger ones. A youth pastor may be great at evangelism, but that does not mean he should stop discipling students. That is where ministry networks can come alongside and strengthen leaders in their areas of weakness.
Your Network’s Strengths
NNYM desires to help you maximize your network’s strengths and build up any weaknesses through focusing on the four priorities of a healthy network.
Consider using the tool linked to this article to help you evaluate the strengths in your ministry network called “Discovering the Strengths of Your Network.” You can also connect with a Network Coach to help you think through how to better develop your ministry network. Don’t forget to refer to all the helpful materials here in this Training section!