In two short days I’ll be heading to Simply Youth Ministry Conference (SYMC), which I believe to be the VERY best gathering of youth workers on the planet. Or to say it another way, it’s a gathering of the very best youth workers on the planet! So today I offer some SYMC randomness.

Concerning Workshops: I like to break my workshop selections into thirds: 1/3 of the workshops I attend are led by people I already know and like, talking about stuff I probably already agree with and “get”. 1/3 of the workshops I attend are led by people I tend to disagree with on many things, and will stretch my thinking. 1/3 of the workshops I attend are led by people I don’t know at all, speaking about stuff I’ve never really thought about, so I will be exposed to new voices and new topics.

Concerning Schedule. I tell my team, “It’s not a conference unless you ditch something!” So I always (translation: ALWAYS) ditch out on a general session, a workshop, etc. in order to have an extended meal with friends, catch a movie, take a tour of the city, etc.

Concerning Atmosphere. I think the best way to approach SYMC is with the mentality that it’s like camp…for youth workers! It’s gonna be loud, fun, challenging, faith stretching, and more. And like we often say to our students before camp; “God might just show up and do something powerful in your life…If you let him.”

Concerning Networking. I’m one of the folks that doesn’t like the word “networking” because it makes meeting new people and making new connections sound so shallow and agenda-driven. But hey…use the conference to meet new people and make new connections!

Concerning Youthworkerdiscounts.com. This fun little venture is officially launching at SYMC. If you promise to wear it at the conference, we will give you a free YWD T-shirt while supplies last! Somebody from YWD will be hanging out in the Christ in Youth booth most of the time. Come say hello! P.S. All YWD members now got 30% discounts at simplyyouthministry.com! Join the club, save lots of money and help give free resources to small youth groups!

Hey Simply Insiders!

As many of you know, Jake Rasmussen, our SYM sales guy with the mostest, loves him some bright pants.

They are so fantastic that they have a personality of their own (@jakeorangepants anyone?!).


Awkward Day in the Life of Orange Pants


Orange Pants with his Besties Jeremiah & Sarah Isley



Because #YMNation is a democratic group of youth workers, we want to keep the responsibility of all important decisions with the people. So what color pants should Jake bring to #SYMC this year? Vote below! Be on the lookout for the winning color running around at #SYMC (just 7 days y’all!)


What new color of pants should Jake wear this year at #SYMC?
electric blue
hot pink
neon yellow
sea foam green

Poll Maker



Orange Pants Selling Books at SYMC

Orange Pants and Stitch out on the town.

Orange Pants and Stitch out on the town.





Thanks for voting!! 


Best Sex Ever...Save 85.7% Today Only! Buy Now!



by Doug Fields

How to Have Great Sex!

Students are bombarded daily with messages about sex, about their own sexuality, and little of it borders on Truth. Rather than try and stifle their natural curiosity with a simple “Wait until marriage,” this series digs in deep to reframe sex in light of God’s design and purpose.

The topics for this four-week series are:

Week 1 – Created In God’s Image

Week 2 – God’s Word On Sex

Week 3 – Sex Is So Much Bigger Than I Thought!

Week 4 – Messing Up To Making Up

TODAY’S PRICE:  $4.00  (regularly $27.99)  SAVE 85.7%.


Thanks for loving students!

Team SYM

While supplies last and/or expires at 11:59pm mst on 02.28.2014.

Call Jake at 866.9.simply with questions



Top #SYMC News!

 —  February 27, 2014 — 1 Comment

1. The official 2014 SYMC app for your phone and tablet is now available for download!

Go to your favorite app store and search “Simply Youth Ministry Conference.” Download the FREE app and get started using all of its awesome features like scoping out dining options by price, see what’s happening now, get connected with all of the conference social media, and much more!


Click here to download for Android


Click here to download for iPhone


2. The 2014 SYMC Participant Booklet is now available for you online here.

You can also access the book to flip through in the official SYMC 2014 app under the Conference Details icon!



3. FUN FACT: Sean Little, an energetic hip-hop/rap performer from Indiana, and The Bryan Drake Show, a Jesus-centered illusionist, are going to be performing live from the Group Magazine Stage at SYMC!

What What! These guys are pretty great. In fact, you can watch Sean Little’s I AM SECOND story here to learn more about his passion for what he does and why. Then go check out the sweet tricks/illusions Bryan Drake can do on his promo video here!


Sean Little – I AM SECOND


Bryan Drake Show Promo


Only 8 Days Left Until Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2014 is finally here! It’s still not too late to sign-up and join other youth workers for this meaningful experience!

Hey Insiders!

From now until March 5th, we’re doing “Steal-a-Deal” where you get 2x (yes, that’s double) reward points on EVERYTHING at SimplyYouthMinistry.com!

These bonus rewards are so good that it’s almost like stealing from Jake…who, by the way, actually was recently robbed when someone broke into his car, yikes! For your viewing pleasure (or agony, we know this video is pretty stinkin’ bad, but almost so bad it’s good), we did a little video re-enactment of the robbery!

You can see the video here when you go to rack up all those double rewards points!!
You’ll be amazed at the amount of rewards points you can rack up from this Steal-a-Deal! Check out some examples below:

LIVE Curriculum: High School – Normally, get 4,990 rewards points when you purchase.



Till March 5th get:

9,980 rewards points!




Case of Simple Truth Bibles – Normally, get 2,160 rewards points when you purchase.





Till March 5th get:

4,320 rewards points!




Life Hurts, God Heals teen-addiction recovery curriculum- Normally, get 700 rewards points when you purchase.




Till March 5th get:

1,400 rewards points!



And this is only a few examples of how majorly you can score on rewards points right now!  If you still havn’t watched the video reinactment of Jake’s car getting broken into, watch it now and then just for fun after, watch the “alternate ending” below!

Special Alternate Ending:

Alternate Ending to Steal-A-Deal from Group Mission Trips on Vimeo.

Go get your Steal-a-Deal now!

Amber / @youthministry


conferenceAre you open to growing in community?

In an earlier post on this blog, Leneita Fix shared what she’s teaching this year at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. You totally need to check out her stuff, as well as many of the other bloggers on this site who are all presenting something. I’m not kidding… these folks are brilliant and have such an amazing heart for God, students and youth workers.

For what it’s worth, I’ll also be serving at the conference. Catch up with me on any of these if you want to join into what I’ll be doing or hang out afterward:

symcI know that I’m taking a risk in sharing that with you because it comes across as self-serving. Honestly, I’ll take the risk because I really believe in SYMC is all about… a conference “by youth workers, for youth workers.”

In fact, I’d like to give you some exclusive access (with just a minor edit or two for privacy/context) to a Facebook conversation with a local friend of mine in ministry who I dared to check out the conference.

Hey bro! Thanks for liking my status. It actually prompted me to ask you a question I keep forgetting to ask – wondering if you are interested in attending SYMC in Columbus in March.

Tony, I was not planning on it. I had thought about it for a while. I still am sort of on the fence. I feel like it’s never gonna be so easily accessible again, and I even have a buddy who really wants me to go with him. It just happens to fall probably in my busiest two weeks of the whole spring, and I’m concerned about not getting everything I need to get done, done..

Hmm… I hear that tension. I’m actually doing a trip to Honduras right afterward, so I know what you mean. I would offer that it’s worth it, even if you can pop in for a day. If that’s of interest, I can probe around for you to find a one-day rate. What do you think?

Well, what do you think would be some of the things I would most benefit from experiencing?

screen568x568I’ve been a part of various conferences like these over the year, and each experience is unique. The one thing I can offer about this one (and the largest reason why I like serving with these guys) is the relational atmosphere SYMC creates that’s just rich with the Holy Spirit… not in a weird way, but in a fulfilling way.

There are, of course, a lot of great things to learn from amazing minds in ministry. You can certainly fill up a notebook with new ideas… it’s like a Thanksgiving meal, as well as the unbuckling of your belt after the meal. You take in all of the ingredients life has given you and bring those to take part in a great buffet with other youth workers from all over.

The coolest thing is you can enjoy it without any masks… some people confess their junk, and others share their victories. Everyone finds a moment of genuine laughter, and everyone finds a genuine moment for hot tears… all as appropriate.

To top it off, there’s this vibe of accessibility to everyone. It’s like a weekend student ministry retreat without the students… where you get to be on the receiving end.

Anyway, all of that to say I’m into it… truly. Where I could fall into a funk with other conferences, this one is always growing and adapting. It’s truly for youth workers by youth workers… and Jesus.

Hope that makes sense. Let me know if you’re interested or would want to hang out if you came. I’m speaking in a handful of places, but would really enjoy the chance to share some free time with you.

When all was said and done, my buddy moved some things around in his schedule and signed up. He added, “Thanks for your answers to my questions, I definitely see the value of the conference.” Another couple of friends I spoke to recently are coming, too – mainly because I couldn’t stop yapping about the thing. (It’s like when you’ve eaten pizza all your life, but then find pizza that redefines pizza,,, and you have to tell everyone else about it.)

Why does this matter?

We all have days that leave us feeling like we’re insane. It’s rare to find a ragtag community like this where you suddenly feel like you can waste less time translating what you mean with people who don’t “get it” and more time speaking a common language among other dreamers who do “get it.” .

sackchairAll that to say I hope we can hang out at SYMC this year, too. If it’s not in your budget this round, start saving up for next year. If you can still join in, count this as my official invite for us to grab a meal or smoothie sometime with me a handful of peers among thousands of other youth workers

Or maybe we’ll just hang out in the closest over-sized sack chair we can find.

We are only one week and a half or so from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference.  It is probably one of my favorite times of the year.  This particular conference has truly become a place where I gather with friends to talk about ministry.  I learn so much, I laugh and I hang out with people who “get me.”  In addition I have the honor of teaching and serving on peer panels.  This is how I get to meet those with fresh ideas and hear about youth min. all over the world.  I thought it might be fun to share what I am teaching this year and why it’s close to my heart.

I mean you see the titles, you read the bios, but do you have any idea why us speakers care about what we do?  So this week I would like to break down my sessions for you.


Partnering With A New Generation Of Parents: (Saturday, 9 AM):

I have been in some form of family ministry for over two decades now.  (Yes, that means I’m old.)  When I started out it was in a rural area.  The running joke has always been that it took forever to gather all of my students not because I had so many, but because they lived so far away from each other.  This was the first time I was exposed to “Christian” households that hid affairs, problems and issues.  Most of my students did have two parents in the home, but that didn’t mean they were happy homes.  Fast forward as the Lord plops me in the inner city.  I remember in my first week a 10 year old girl asking me my age.   When I told her, “24,” her response was a gleeful, “That’s the same age as my Mom!” I honestly, had no idea how to respond, as the reality of two things hit me:  1. How young her Mom was when she had her.  2.  She had 2 siblings.

I continued to meet students in these areas who came from single parent households.  Dads were nonexistent in their lives.  It was not uncommon for there to be multiple children with the same Mom and different fathers.  Time marched on and I began to help out with suburban youth ministry.  I saw patterns of divorce there.  I met kids from rich homes whose parents were workaholics.  I talked with churches all over the country and I started hearing the same stories.  The traditional “family unit” was melting away.  Grandparents and family members  were raising grandchildren. Kids were growing up in foster care and group homes.  Children were navigating four parents as divorce and remarriage occurred.  The situations may have looked different at one time in rural, suburban and inner city areas,  however,  I have seen in recent years that the same scenarios are playing out everywhere.

Honestly, I pointed fingers at who I thought were “unworthy” to spiritually lead their children.  I put myself in the position of Savior and Hero when everyone else let them down.  That’s when the Lord convicted me of 3 things:

     No matter how much time I spent with any student at some point they would “go home.”

I could not ever be the Savior, there is only one.

God’s heart for the family is for it to be whole.  

The Lord pointed me to places in His Word about His thoughts of the family and the way He wants it to be.  I saw that as I decided that “some” parents “could” never “get there,”  I was actually becoming part of the problem and not the solution.

That’s why I have taken up the cause to see every parent, every family the way the Lord does: redeemed.  Will every family get there?  Of course not.  Is it what Jesus longs for?  Absolutely.  My responsibility is to keep asking Him to give me His eyes in the situation.

I feel responsible to learn how to partner with this new generation of families, and help them see what Christ does.  Will you join me as we learn how to do this together?

Do you have any specific questions on this topic you might like me to answer in my workshop?

Tune in tomorrow for: “Building Relationships In A Fake Relational World.”
Leneita / @leneitafix


This past weekend I had the joy of speaking at Believe, CIY’s event for Junior Highers. 6,000 students and their leaders gathered in Northern Kentucky for 24 hours worth of music, comedy, video, interactive learning, teaching, small group discussion and more. Because my role was fairly minimal, I had space to engage in some great conversations, observe great junior high ministry in motion and even learn some leadership lessons. Here is a sample:

* After a separate session just for the leaders, A young man pulled me aside and asked for my “top 3 tips” for working with junior highers. He was brand new and feeling overwhelmed. One of my tips was, “Chris, just let them know you LIKE them…look for little ways things that will show them you are interested in more than only being their spiritual leader.” About two hours after that conversation, I got an email from Chris that read in part: “Today at lunch I got spontaneous and bought everybody slushees, I was shocked at how many conversations that little gesture has already led to!”

* A youth pastor introduced a high school senior to me who is considering going into ministry but had all sorts of questions about education, internships, best route to take, etc. It was hilarious because as we started talking, her youth pastor sipped just out of her view and “coached me up” with non-verbal cues as during our conversation. It was obvious he wanted me to direct her in a similar way he had! Very, very funny!

* In the opening session on Friday night, there were some really tough technical difficulties…like sound going in and out during worship, videos not working, my mic popping in and out, etc. I pulled a few of the CIY guys aside afterward to share a few things going through my mind while I observed (and experienced) the situation:
– Even big events like this are really still just youth group. Students don’t care about the stuff we care about!
– It’s easy to be a strong team when things are going well. But the true strength of a team shows up in adversity!
– It may have been a tough night for Believe, but Believe at it’s worst is still the best JH event I’ve ever seen!

* There was a group there with over 700 students in attendance and groups there with 7. I met the leaders from both and was equally impressed! It takes just as much skill, passion, dedication to run a group of 7 junior highers as it does one of 700…in fact, you could make a strong argument that running a group of 7 is oftentimes tougher due to lack of funds, lack of help etc.

* I met two different youth workers…both about my age, both in ministry for 20-plus years and both having served in the same church for most of that time. It reminded me that the #YMNATION is made up of men and women faithfully serving the local church and doing so joyfully without speaking engagements, book deals, blogs and other easily pursued opportunities. These are the true heros of youth ministry!

It’s these types of experiences that make getting away from time to time so important! Do what you can to escape to an event like SYMC or another local training event; partly for the training, but mostly for the chance to be around others on a similar journey. Take your students to a larger gathering and rub shoulders with other youth workers while you are there. Leaders are learners, and the best lessons usually aren’t found in books or blogs.