In “my other world” of IT and Business, there is a word that is used often that the church either uses in a negative connotation, or it is simply not spoken of. The word is outsourcing. The church has taken great pains over the years to do as much as it can in-house. In a lot of situations, this has been very good for the church to develop that self-sufficiency. In some areas, however there are some great things we can gain by bringing in the help of others.
In a rural area, we can also have an attitude of self-sufficiency that stems from years of “making due” and “doing without”, because there were not the resources to create the content, material, or event ourselves. There isn’t a second thought given to the idea that someone else can come alongside us and help make it happen.
There are two types of “outsourcing” I would like for us to look at – local resources, and partner publishers.
There are many resources that you have access to as a youth ministry that are there when you ask for them. Suppose your church financially supports the local community pregnancy center. You know that they are a center that addresses spiritual matters as part of working with the mom and baby. Why not request their help as part of doing a series on sexual purity? That is a no-brainer! Most Crisis Pregnancy Centers have easy access to training, statistics, and resources that many youth workers do not. They would love to build on the partnership that they already have with your church.
What I am going to tell you might fly in the face of what you have been taught or told to do. Sorry, but I’m not sorry. You do not need to create all of the content that you use at your church or ministry any more than you need to build the car you are going to drive to church. I could devote a whole post to this debate alone (in fact, I might just do that later), but the point is that there are people that are extremely gifted at creating content for youth ministry, whether it is curriculum, games, video resources, or forms. If you are gifted in one of those areas, great. Use that gift, you will be able to create and do what you do in a fraction of the time that it takes the rest of us and have higher quality content to boot. Now, for the rest of us, look at where you are gifted. If it is not creating content, make use of the places that are gathering a bunch of these incredibly gifted folks to produce content for youth ministry. Get it, make it your own, and then, go love your students.
Outsourcing really is already happening in ministry. In fact, the whole creation of the “youth ministry role” as we know it, comes out of a time period in the 1950’s and 1960’s of parents “outsourcing” the spiritual development of their children to the church (see Deuteronomy 6). This is why I teach youth workers that we are there as a help, but never to replace parents in this role.
However you approach it, know that yo are not alone. There are resources available to help. Sometimes it only takes the ask.
How do you “outsource” in ministry at your church” I’d love to hear in the comments below!