Networking is a word some ministry leaders might cringe at. To them networking means work, it means time away from family or church, and it could mean building relationships with people you may not necessarily know. A network can have many benefits; despite the negatives you might be conjuring up. Good networks can develop you as a leader, inject new insights/wisdom into your ministry, receive contacts that can enrich your tribe and in many cases, gain new perspectives on your church. Instead of convincing you why you should network, I’d rather share with you my networking strategy. Maybe through sharing my approach to networking you might be more open to joining a network or even begin a network of your own. My networking strategy is threefold:
Network Up- There are people in ministry that are smarter, more experienced and wiser than you (sorry, but it is true). Plugging into a network filled with people that are further along then you are can raise your potential and create an environment in which you can grow. It is humbling to connect with people with greater insights and perspectives; but these people will pour into you and enrich your abilities as a leader.
Network Horizontal- Connect with others who are similar; same church size, shared job titles or in the same season of life. Networking with equals has given me a place to share my struggles and victories. Most of the time I already have relationships with these people but we do not formally call our times together a “network”. For me it is crucial to have peers that I can be honest with; I may not grow in my leadership capabilities but I do grow in my character.
Network Down- At some point I believe we all have a responsibility to pour into other people. Networking down may sound negative, but it is meeting with people who may not necessary add much to your leadership but you may add to their leadership potential. It is an investment on your end. Truthfully, this level of networking is not a starting point but rather a measure of your maturity and level of influence.
For me, I currently network up and horizontally. These networks give me opportunities to grow, develop and mature as a ministry leader. And honestly, there are days that I do not want to go or days where I am too busy to attend; but the links that are being established are not only social ones, they are links to a stronger building of my personal abilities as a leader.
How have you benefited from networking with other ministry leaders?
About the author
Trevor Lee currently serves as the Family Life Pastor at Life Community Church, a restarted church located east of Seattle. In total Trevor has spent nearly a decade serving children, students and families in a variety of church environments around the Pacific Northwest. He blogs regularly at trevorlee.me