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The Youth Cartel’s Middle School Ministry Campference has become one of my favorite events of the year! If you work with young teens in a paid, part-time or volunteer basis we would love to have you join us for three days of learning, laughing and encouragement with others in our “tribe”. The campference is just that: A camp combined with a conference, which is what makes it so unique. If you want to join us, it’s almost too late…but not quite! You can get details and register right here.

An expanded video from the opening video from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this weekend. Great narration to accompany the imagery – trying to set up the idea of disorientation and frustration that would be resolved by the end of the weekend.

JG




Do you have a youth ministry degree? There are MANY roads to youth ministry though I am curious what was your formal education path (if any). As for me, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from a Bible college. How about you? Vote now!

Also, if you’re interested in getting a youth ministry certificate, check out Youthsphere from Point Loma – a cool online way to get some official training and a piece of paper for your wall at the end. Use promo code MTDB to get 10% off today!

JG

I remember the first time I ever went to a youth ministry conference – I had NO idea they even did things like that! 3,000 youth workers in the same room together? Incredible.

And although I haven’t developed an unhealthy addiction to conferences (like some have, you know who you are hahahaha) I do love getting together with like-minded youth workers who get where I live everyday and challenge me to be better. Here’s why I think you should attend a youth ministry conference in the coming year:

Hang with people who understand your calling
Many of the people in my life are amazed at what it takes to be a youth worker – I smile when someone says, “I don’t now how you do it” but love it when someone says, “I’m going to steal that idea to do with my kids.” Why go to a youth ministry conference? To be surrounded with called people just like you.

Be challenged by people who push us forward
I love reading someone’s book and then hearing them in person. I try to learn from people who I agree with, and be challenged by people who rub me the wrong way. When planning out the schedule, mix it up with some stuff you want and some stuff you need.

Have someone look into my soul and do a tune up
I have sins and secrets that as a pastor I simply can’t share in my context. But finding some Soul Care or pastoral counseling options at an event are important. Don’t just hit sessions and workshops, steal some time away for your deepest heart issues, too.

Get away from it all
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Get in a day early and see the sites or stay a day later and go into a youth ministry escape coma for the weekend. Make sure when you head out to a conference you plan some serious down time as well.

There are a ton of great youth worker events out there on the local and national scale – the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Indianapolis is right around the corner and if you register today or tomorrow, you can get in for $40 off and special gifts if you use the promo code MTDB on the last page of registration. See you there!

JG



 

SYMC is not too far off in the distance, and after a great few days at Group World HQ working out many of the details, I am positive this will be the best SYMC to date. With that said, youth workers from all over the world will converge on Indianapolis March 1-4th and each of them has an important decision to make: How do I wear or not wear my conference lanyard. There are four distinct phases to the evolution of lanyard style and they are as follows.

1 – The “Standard”: The most common form of lanyard style, with it worn as intended around the neck with your name in a place where people can read your name and greet you with it. Often covered in buttons and other flair, the standard position is helpful to everyone else at the conference.

2 – The “Awkward / Cool”: Bored with the standard position many people choose to place their lanyard near or below waist level which causes awkward gazes to the nether regions when greeting new people. This style makes it easy for you to know who has truly forgotten your name as they will be unable to look natural reading this strategically placed lanyard tag.  You might be tricked into thinking this is “cool” but its more uncomfortable than anything.

3 – The “I think People Know Me”: If you have been to the conference enough, you are tempted to think that people will recognize you and thus a lanyard might not be necessary, after all do they know who you are? right? Stage three is marked with an intentional concealing of the name card, but with lanyard strap in view so that if necessary you can reveal your credentials at the door if someone has possibly not been graced by your presence in the past.

4 – The “People Definitely Know Me”: Stage 4 is all in, no lanyard in sight or on your person. People know you, and when you walk through the door, no one asks questions. This is the riskiest of all the phases because if it backfires, its a long way back to your hotel room to get it.

I can’t wait to see you all in Indianapolis, I am a phase 1 guy, with my Canadian connect group pin for added flair. SYMC Stronger 2013 BE THERE!

-Geoff (Twitter)

I am a man that loves to further my education. I know that I do not know it all and have weaknesses and have found that education in some form or another has enabled me to improve on those weaknesses as well as further my strengths. Yet, many would say that they do not need it or simply do not have the time. Unfortunately, with stagnation can come “pond scum” and getting stuck in ruts that can make our faith bland or seemingly fake. We need to keep ourselves on our toes and challenging ourselves.

 

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. – Henry Ford

 

This week I will be headed to Youth for Christ’s Regional Conference for the central states. While here, I will be able to hang out with like-minded people who have a unique perspective on youth ministry and Christian faith. In this time, I hope that I will be refreshed, renewed, and learn a few things.

Continued Reading

I don’t know about you, but my stack of “need-to-read” list of books is immense and I’m constantly reading something. Currently, I have three different books I am going through at one time: The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation by Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer, The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson, and Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation by Jonathan McKee. Keep reading to be inspired, encouraged, and learning for your own faith and your ministry.

Professional Classes
I am in my first year at Denver Seminary and loving every minute of it. Honestly, in the last twenty-one years of my life, I have not been in class for one year. This education is not for everyone, but the teachers and professors that challenge your thinking and community of learners to grow with is inspiring and spurs on creativity and passion. If you have not been in a classroom as a student for years, it might be scary. But do not let that scare you and prevent you for at least looking into this adventure.

Professional Conferences

Conferences are a great idea for those that can only commit a week to their professional development. It provides the community and courses for those that are willing to take the four to seven days and invest in the events. As I shared before, I will be going to Youth for Christ’s Regional Conference along with our biennial national conference’s MidWinter in February 2012. Two great conferences for youth workers are Simply Youth Ministry Conference and Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention.

Mentoring and Accountability

While all of these things are great ideas, they should all be done within accountability. This might be in the form of other youth workers or a mentor that is investing in you. In the end, learning does have great benefits but is still work. We need to have people who are our cheerleaders encouraging us on and at the same time a coach pushing us when we do not want to go any further. This encouragement and support can only make us better and improve our ministry.

Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.



The worst part of summer camp? The crash! You squirrel kids away for a week, take away all their technology, and pump them full of nothing but Jesus and they conclude that week connected, hopeful, and holy.

A few weeks later….the camp-drug has been filtered out of their systems and the camp high is crash landing.

Conferences for youth workers can sometimes have the same aftermath. We attend; we spend a week away from ‘normal’. We take the wise counsel offered by Kurt, Josh, and other trusted youth workers to glean the most from our week ‘in the bubble.’ We go home. And after a few weeks of board meetings, parent confrontations, and pastoral smack-downs, our camp high has waned.

How do we make the conference experience more than a camp high?

1. Reflect. Journal. Blog. As God reveals truths to you, write them down. On days when you question His existence, those notes will be important to you!
2. Buy a CD or DVD from the sessions that impacted you most. On dark days, pull those out and revisit what was most inspiring to you.
3. Grab some downloads of sessions you wanted to catch, but had to miss because of scheduling (or napping!) Consider this your ‘nicotine patch’. Schedule some time every month to listen to a new session. Not only do you get continuing education year round, it’s sure to remind you what was best about the conference you attended as it sharpens you personally and professionally.
4. Continue the relationships you built through that week. (Yes, you should be building relationships throughout the week.) We’ve all watched those camp friendships go by the wayside a few weeks after camp has concluded. But with so many ways to stay connected, there’s no longer excuse for that. Maintain those relationships — maintain community.

I’ll confess. I’ve been in youth ministry for 23 years. (Yes….old.) I’ve been to at least 23 conferences. No one — NO ONE — does it like Simply Youth Ministry Conference. They embrace core values that really set them apart from every other educational experience I’ve ever had as a youth worker. That’s probably because they so skillfully intertwine education with relationship. I left that conference feeling valued, known, and understood. I left with ideas, tips, and truths that I am still applying today (3 years later.) I left with friendships that are deep and life-changing for me. I had never known a true connection with other youth workers until SYMC. (I’m going to blog some of those stories over the next two months!) After two decades of bouncing from conference to conference based largely on the quality of the brochure, I left with a commitment to return to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference annually.

Conferences no longer should be solely about playing a better game or building a better Bible study. You can get more than that. You can grab a year-long lifeline that pushes amazing education and training while embracing you, friending you, knowing you, and loving you. Go register….right now!

Darren is a veteran youth pastor (that’s code for old and in it for a long time) and co-founder of Millennial Influence – a resource for parents & youth pastors, including Mi Podcast – a weekly podcast for parents of teenagers. Check out his blog at http://everyonescalledtoyouthministry.com/

I haven’t heard of the groundSWELL online conference before today – an email was just forwarded to me by a friend – but I sure love this bold idea they’re trying. All of the speakers at their event will be between 13-19 years old! You can fill out the nomination form here (the event is sponsored by Leadership Network) if you’ve got a student who would be perfect for it!

JG