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