The Friday Five: Youth Ministry Leadership Conferences

OK – so there’s only one.  Over the past 23 years, I’ve been to ALOT of youth ministry leadership events.  They all had their high points.  but far and away, the best (and easily filling all five spots in the Friday 5!)…


It truly is a conference for youth workers by youth workers.  There’s a reality – an authenticity – that comes through ‘in the trenches’ youth workers designing all aspects of the conference.

Help for the hurting – rest for the weary – hope for the seeking – ideas for the searching….it tops all other training events!

And if you register in the next 3 days – you’ll get an early bird discount….which makes you not only smart, but also good looking.  :)

Take my word for it – but if you just need more evidence – check out what 5 other youth leaders are saying!  (Hey – I had to give you five of something!!)

@PhilBell at

@joshuagriffin at

@brit_windel at

@dougfranklin at

@timschmoyer at

Early Bird Deadline expires 10.31.2011 (A $40 SAVINGS!)

When: March 2-5, 2011

Where: Louisville, KY

Here’s Where to Register:

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 for SYMC 2010

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