We spend a lot of time talking about relationships and relational ministry as youth workers. We focus our efforts on building relationships and connections with our students, while also seeking to lean into the lives of our adult leaders. Even in recent years, there has been a renewed focus on making sure we build strong partnerships with parents and families. Pastoral relationship, of course, continue to be key for communication, community and even longevity in a ministry.
There are however, I think a few relationships that as I listen to people in youth ministry we continue to miss. Relational connections that are almost a mistake not be developing, but most in youth ministry are not seeking out. There are at least ten “other” relationships you as a youth worker need to consider making…
10. The Church Custodian. They take on various names and titles but at the end of the day, they are the end of the line when it comes to clean up and fixing your messes around the church.
9. The Sr. Pastor’s Secretary. If the custodian is the end of the line when it comes the building clean ups and mess, the Sr. Pastor’s secretary is the front of the line to getting access to the big boss, when their other kinds of ministry clean up.
8. The Children’s Pastor/Director. They are manager in the farm leagues of your church’s younger generation, but by no means the minor leagues. You are one team and one league, so open communication and relationships are a home run!
7. The Head of the Church Board. Elder…Deacon… Leadership Commitee. They are unpaid but still very important group of people of the church. The head of that group may also contain the brains; of the group. Get to know that person, their thoughts, ideas and inspiration.
6. The Principal at The Closest School. If the children’s pastor/director is on your in-house team, the principal down the road is not the competing team but another coach for your student-players. It is valuable relationship in your community. Let them know your name, church and your heart for students.
5. The Assistant Principal at All the Schools Your Students Attend. This person is the usually the person in charge of the discipline and trouble-makers of the school. They are usually stressed and overwhelmed. If you willing to encourage them and assist them in any way you can. It will not only be a ministry to them but it will also be a second doorway into every school.
4. The School Counselors. Much like the principals, these hard-working people are the mental and emotional doorway into a school. Being willing to get to know them, their job, and being available to come in as a “positive role model” and “character coach” will give you opportunities you could never imagine!
3. Your Church’s Neighbors. This is not a spiritual metaphor or idea. This is a physical, literal relationship of loving the people who live next door and across the street from your church building. We love the people on our missions trips around the world, but do the people who are the actual neighbors of our church know they are loved? They put up with our late-night youth ministry activities, our loud games and music. Do you know them enough to knock on their door and thank them!.
2. The Sr. Pastor’s Wife. “If mama ain’t happy, no body’s happy…” The same may be true of your Sr. Pastor’s wife. She is kind of the “mama of the house” when it comes to the church. Building a relationship with her is of huge value. She may need encouragement and a smile without motives more than anyone else in your church. Let her know you care and you see her hard work behind the scenes.
1. The OLDEST active member in your congregation. “If you don’t learn from history, you are bound to repeat it!” Find out the history and story of your church, it will teach you so much about how to minister best in your church, while also avoiding the landmines of unwritten rule, expectations, and past hurts. The oldest member of your church can also be one of the most amazing prayer warriors you could ever imagine.
Understand, these are not suggestions to be used so you can manipulate people, positions or power. Each of these relationships hold value and can improve your personal ministry. Each of these can make you more sensitive to people beyond those directly in your specific ministry. Each of these relationships have personally influenced and changed my ministries over the year. I believe they can change yours as well.