Why I’m Not Going to Simply Youth Ministry Conference

OK – so no doubt by now you’ve seen or heard all about the Group/Doug Field’s Simply Youth Ministry Conference.  Mail-outs, ads on 65 pages in Group magazine, promotions on Facebook, Twitter…who knows, maybe even on your late local news.

I thought of all the reasons why I should WANT to go to this conference, but what’s really in my heart are all the reasons I am NOT going to the conference.

First – can anyone say ‘Chicago in March??!’  Spring doesn’t even hit Chicago until July…and I live in a beach town.  Forget winter gear – I don’t even own a pair of close-toed shoes, for cryin’ out loud.

Next –and with all the love and respect I can muster – what’s with all the big names?  Doug Fields, Louie Giglio, Shane & Shane…even the Skit Guys. I’m ‘justa’ humble, small-church, no-named youth guy.  What could I ever have in common with those people?

Now I don’t know about you, but as far as youth ministry goes – I’m a lif-er.  I’ve been ‘doing’ youth ministry for close to 25 years.  I’ve been to every conference known to man – ‘how to help small church youth ministries’, ‘how to help large church youth ministries’, how to deal effectively with whiney junior high girls’…you name it, I have notes on it.  I’ve been doing youth ministry so long, I still have cassette tapes of conferences I’ve been to. (I finally threw my 8-tracks in the trash in the name of Fall organization!)  What could SYMC possibly have for me that I haven’t already seen, done, heard, got the T-shirt?

No – I can’t go to the conference for all of those reasons…so I’m not.

I’m going to conference because I need to fall in love with youth ministry again.  I need to spend time with some people who ‘get’ me – someone who has had the elders of their church cancel the summer trip after it’s already been promoted and paid for…and after they approved it in the first place – someone who feels the pain of watching kids go a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction and wondering if even Jesus will be enough of an air bag to save them when they crash – someone who is so strapped for cash, they had to donate plasma to help pay for the trip to Chicago….seriously.  I need to go because sometimes youth ministry just makes me tired.

I’m also going because I need to fall in love with Jesus again.  After years of doing ministry, I have come to the conclusion that working in the church can be one of the hardest things on your relationship with Christ.  I need someone who understands the pain of knowing people are counting on me to be holy…and knowing who I really am when I look in the mirror.  I need someone who understands that even though I love Jesus – sometimes I read my Bible and all I get out of it is work.  I need someone who knows the frustration of needing to worship, but being so consumed with running the service, I can’t.

I can’t wait to get Chicago.  Jesus has something for me there – I know it!  Even though I’ve been to a bazillion conferences, I believe this one offers something different – community, connection, respite, rejuvenation, and renewal.  I so desperately need that.  And having met Doug Fields, Louie Giglio, and some of the others – I am proud to say…they are just like me – real people doing real ministry and enjoying the same perks and enduring the same frustrations that I do….every day….in every way.  And as far as spring in Chicago goes….well, let’s just say, I bought my first pair of tennis shoes and a pair of mittens today!

See you in Chicago!


Originally published through http://www.youthministry.com for SYMC 2010

Author: Darren Sutton

I've been in student ministry nearly 30 years…which generally just confirms how much I still don't know. Some days I'm the pizza-eating, over-responding, teaching-on-the-fly, desperate-for-volunteers, frustrated-with-co-workers youth leader that we all are. And sometimes…I knock it out of the park. I'm everywhere on social media that you are!

8 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Going to Simply Youth Ministry Conference”

  1. any notes you can share from the ‘how to deal effectively with whiney jr. high girls’ conference?

    :) see you there!

  2. There are “big names” at SYMC, but as a presenter there myself, I know they are very intentional about making their speakers very accessible. I know that people sometimes still feel a bit wired just walking up and talking to them, but hopefully that changes as people become more comfortable with the vision.

    Looking forward to meeting you there! :)

  3. Spoken with heart and soul! Thank you for putting it all out there! That was awesome! Couldn’t agree more with this article. I am still new to full-time youth ministry, but love it! And as all of you know it is anything but easy… Thanks for being real people that share their struggles. I love knowing I’m not alone in the struggles… I know God is with me, and you all make it that much more evident through reading and seeing you all living life for Him. So again thank you!

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