(This page can work as a discussion document at a gathering of youth leaders in a city or town. Freely invite Raki or Dave to join you in person or via skype/zoom to communicate vision for the potential of your unity. Note there are discussion questions at the bottom).


I remember when I led my first network of youth leaders. I was full of enthusiasm, and we achieved some really good things together. But I’m 25 years older now, and have led a few things since. What’s in this short ‘how  to’ guide could make a real difference for you!

You see – I’ve sat in pastors’ groups literally hundreds of times. Doing so has actually been part of my ministry work, traveling to engage conversation with these groups. From all this I’ve observed some simple principles that work. They’re quite rarely discussed – but times are changing!

Here are a few of those tips – and you could imagine here that the below  is a summary of a whole book (because it is), the 5 minutes this will take you to read is a gift (which it is – because there is no charge :-)


Point  1: The end-goal of combined church leaders groups is not relationship. God gave us a mission. That’s the end-goal.

  • (Please don’t react at this point – as more is coming).
  • Beginnings are important. If a person starts doing something with the wrong goal in mind, they might fail to ever achieve the needed goal. For us as the Church, Jesus defined our mission very clearly. An error in this area affects none more-so than the myriads of people who don’t yet know Christ!
  • Local churches usually CANNOT reach their whole communities when congregations keep to themselves (only working independently). Take a look around you and you’ll see. There are things that need doing together!
  • Read Philippians 1:27.  Unity had a purpose.
  • Read Jesus’ prayer in John 17 – then note that is goes on to say “…that the world  would know…”.  So this prayer isn’t actually a prayer just for unity!  It’s a prayer for unity in view of the increased favour and capacity that will bring for our local mission (outreach) work!

Point 2: The starting goal must be relationship.

  • A contradiction? No. It’s about understanding process.  Without relationship there will be no trust.
  • Things move at the speed of trust!
  • So start social. Have drinks and food. (Nearly always could have drinks and food).  Ask people how they are going. Get to know each other. Encourage each other  This is where you start.
  • It’s always about relationship first!
  • As a result trust will build, and a huge benefit here is that you will likely all last longer in ministry as a result too!

Point 3: The life-cycle of a city pastors’ group or youth leaders network

  • Stage 1: Coffee unity – You get know each other. You encourage. You build trust.
  • Stage 2: Prayer unity – You begin to realise you are in a city, and that your own efforts are just one small part of the wider work that is needed to achieve the mission Jesus gave you together. Because you choose to be secure in yourselves, your hearts begin to unite in a passion for the city as a whole (rather than needing to push your own agenda or find affirmation from others for the amazing things you are doing) – and so you pray not only for yourselves – but for the city!
  • Stage 3: Functional unity – Your prayer together begins to birth vision. You then consider this vital question:

What can we do together that we cannot do apart?

So you pray together again, and begin to sense God might have purposed more for your gatherings than coffee and prayer. As a result, you begin to engage with the greatest and most important purpose you exist for as a group: Mission!


Some points and tips for youth leaders in a city of town

  • Unity isn’t something God gives you a choice on. God expects it! If you aren’t willing to connect with others, I know this sounds harsh, but – you’re out of line! It’s true that many churches function very independently. If you want more youth in your city/town to find hope through faith, bring the change. Build relationship with others! Work with others!
  • Finding your shared agenda is sometimes a challenge for unity groups. 
    • Some might come with ‘agendas’ to push. For example, they have their programme or ministry idea that they want everyone to unite in. However, if there isn’t unity on this and they try to dominate, this can kill the momentum and potential of the group. Attendance can decline in the months following as a result. This is a very common challenge. The solution is for groups to be very careful AGREE on what you do together. (The danger here is that some feel coerced, because others are so passionate about something. So they agree to keep everyone happy – but actually…).
    • Another approach here is to release some in the group to things together that they have a passion for – while not expecting every leader or group to participate. There is nothing wrong with that. However, its very important that discussion about the combined effort that only a few are participating in doesn’t take up much of your time as a group – because if half the member aren’t involved they’ll get bored. (Attendance in future months will drop off. This is a common pattern).
    • KEY LESSON: Here’s the strange process for finding the shared agenda of the group. Everyone needs to lay their own agendas down when they arrive –  so you can pray and find  your agenda together! 
    • This means, you might have something amazing you want all the youth groups to do together, but the other groups aren’t interested. You have to let go and chill out. Remember (1) relationship (2) prayer (3) only then find your shared agenda in service to your shared mission. The group won’t work achieve healthy outcomes any other way.
    • (The emotional battle here is that you might feel disappointment. You have to let go, and serve the greater good. The more immature response is to ‘rebel’ – taking offence, and then going to do your own thing. It takes a big person to serve the vision of others – for the greater good. Be a big [mature] person!).
  • An error to avoid: Thinking all independence is wrong
    • If my kids are 25 years old and all still live at home and depend on me for money and food, something is wrong right?
    • So – independence is a function of maturity. It’s a good thing.
    • But so is inter-dependence!
    • This is why the above question is so important: What can you do together that you cannot do apart?
    • Note – this means that some big youth groups will be capable of doing BIG things independently – and this isn’t wrong. (We mustn’t judge). But this doesn’t mean you don’t still need to all meet together. You do still meet to meet – because you still need to answer the question I gave you! There will still be things you can only achieve together! What are they?
      • Pray.
      • Work out how to get school groups working
      • Discuss how you could get all Christian youth equipped for outreach
      • Discuss the range of youth outreach events already happening in your city – including small group efforts, youth group efforts and combined efforts. And then consider what you’d like to see added to that together?
  • The three key areas of your mission
    • ** SCHOOL GROUPS: A key lesson to teach your youth about outreach is that we are called to reach others where we are. Youth are at school! This means your first step is to find a way to help Christian students in schools know who each other is – even though you come from different youth groups. You need to unite them as a team, so they can support each other – because Christian youth are getting negatively judged in schools. They need this peer support!
      • How could you help Christian youth from different youth groups meet each other?
      • How could you help them to start praying together at school (or before school) – because their school groups life-cycle is exactly the same as yours (relationship – then prayer – then action).
    • ** UNITED OUTREACH EVENTS: What events you do together that you couldn’t do apart?
      • Bigger united events can really help to get new youth involved with your groups. They can trigger meaningful conversations, and bring results!
      • There is no way to express how IMPORTANT personal outreach equipping is. If you don’t equip your youth to know how to articulate their faith – AND with skills to engage difficult  conversations, they will stay silent.
      • In most places where very few new youth are coming to youth ministries and choosing the Christian faith. A key reason is that youth leaders have failed to equip their youth to engage spiritual conversations as a witness.
      • How could you equip if half those attending your regular youth group meeting are non-Christians? Just do it! There is nothing wrong with equipping EVERYONE to explain the Christian faith! For example, I know how to explain the basics of most religions. So there’s nothing wrong with teaching a non-Christian at youth group to explain the basics of Christianity – and you might just find that as they do, and as they hear testimonies, their lives are impacted! 
      • A goal: I suggest every youth ministry should make it their goal to see ALL attending youth equipped for conversational outreach every year. This could be done through a month  long series in your study/discussion times.
      • Godtalk.nz provides free resources to help you do this.
      • (Re making equipping youth EVERY YEAR an expectationThe Bible makes our mission abundantly clear.  The mission Jesus gave you needs to be your mission! If Jesus were talking in-person to your group each week, I cannot imagine a whole year going by without discussing the purpose of your group/the Church, and how you might engage with others as witnesses!)


We hope this ‘How to guide’ helps :-)

Together you can achieve these important things in a way that you will never achieve alone.


As a short closing story: I’m part of a weekly pastors’ group currently also. So you know how it works, in this group we don’t even talk about our various churches and ministries. We have built relationship and we give our primary time to praying for and discussing the needs and concerns of the city. The opportunities that exist as a result of our prayer and friendship are significant, and are in a wide range of areas within the city.

The dynamics for youth leaders groups are exactly the same.

God wants leaders to exist who can focus on the big picture (city) as well as the small (your own youth group / congregation).

Become that kind of leader. Believe that bigger things are possible together!


The key point:

God loves our unity.

God expects us to be in unity

God blesses unity.

But because God also loves everyone we must understand that the chief-end of our unity is for mission!



Discussion questions

  • What did the article say was the primary purpose of a united group?
  • Is independence wrong? (when, and why / why not?)?
  • What is the process suggested for a united church or youth leaders gathering – and why is each point important?
  • What things might we need to unite for as a group? What might we be able to achieve or facilitate together that we couldn’t achieve apart? (Certainly please consider the 3 points included in this article – but also the fact that your friendships and resource-sharing in other areas will strengthen all of you, and your ministries!)
  • As a first step, what could we agree on to do together? (Will we all equip our youth for conversational outreach? How about an event purposed to connect our youth – so they can begin to support each other and pray together in their schools? A combined outreach event?)