Reflection of a YMN Facilitator

4 comments Written on June 13th, 2012     
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Youth Ministry Network (YMN) Facilitator, Erik Cave

I love being a YMN Facilitator, though it hasn’t been all easy.  When I was asked to serve I thought I knew what I was getting into.  After all, I was there when the job description was written.  Marti Burger put together a meeting of longtime youth workers to discuss the state and future of the then active Frontline Coaches program.  We prayed a lot, we threw around some crazy ideas, and we managed tense situations when we didn’t exactly agree.  The driving question for our discussion was, “How do we best care for youth workers and ministries?”  All of us had come from a different conference so each had a unique perspective on how to answer this question.  Ultimately Marti was able to synthesize our whiteboard full of ideas to something that made sense.  Each conference needed a person to help facilitate a network of youth workers and ministries to be known, connected and resourced.  I left the meeting encouraged by what this could mean for the North Pacific Conference.

Here in the NorPac we had already put together a Youth Commission that watched over our retreats and worked with the Frontline Coaches to care for youth workers.  I have served on this commission since before it was an official commission and saw how this new initiative could give it new life.  The NorPac is a great conference full of awesome youth workers, and we could only benefit from being better known, resourced and connected.  I am not the longest tenured, nor the wisest youth worker in the NorPac, yet I was asked to serve as our Network Facilitator.  For me this was an exciting and challenging opportunity.  The biggest challenge was getting to know the rest of the conference.  I had really enjoyed getting to know my local cluster in Portland and the rest of Oregon, and though I was good friends with the others on the Youth Commission, there were still three other states that I needed to get to know.

This experience has been very encouraging for me.  Recruiting and working with Network Leaders has been the best.  They are so dedicated to our conference youth workers it is has been a joy to work with them.  I have really enjoyed getting to know churches in our conference as well.  Every time I do, I find youth workers there that are dedicated to student ministry in fascinating ways.  There are full time, part time and volunteer youth workers whose passion is so strong that it encourages and challenges me.  There are        more long term youth workers than ever who are more interested in serving youth than climbing ladders.  There are new youth workers with great ideas that are changing the face of youth ministry. It has also been exciting to be get a better view of other conference ministries.

There have been a few discouraging moments.  Connecting has been harder than I expected because we are all busy and often spread out.  I naively thought, “We will just set up these cluster gatherings and everyone will come.”  It has been a bit harder than that.  Some clusters have thrived, but others haven’t even gotten off the ground.  The other discouragement has come from watching churches struggle.  Our country’s financial problems have translated into churches having less money for their youth ministries.  Full time positions are being replaced by half time ones, and half time ones are being replaced by volunteers.  More and more full time youth workers are having other duties added to their already full job descriptions. For better or worse, vocational youth ministry is changing.

As we head into year two of this Youth Ministry Network I have been asking myself, “What’s next” for the North Pacific Conference.  I would love to see our network aid youth workers and youth ministries in adapting to the changes that are taking place, integrating with the larger church, training student leaders, gathering and developing young adults, addressing relevant cultural issues and navigating the future of vocational youth ministry.  This is a daunting list.  Like all conferences, we have a lot going for us, but also face steep challenges.  The one clear thing I have learned from being a Network Facilitator over the past year is that not one of us can overcome these challenges alone.  We will need to network together to be known, connected and resourced.

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4 comments “Reflection of a YMN Facilitator”

Eric Cave you are so awesome! Thank you for your heart, ability dream and make that dream a reality! You are a super star youth pastor! I am so thankful for you! Thanks fr blessing your conference!

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Yay Erik! I fully appreciate our cluster gatherings and our cluster and you and your work and your ministry and… etc etc. See you at CHIC if not before.

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Yay, someone read my article.  Thanks.

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Marti, Send this to Conference sup’s! They need to read it!

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