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!


One of my favorite traditions we do as a Student Ministries Team here at Saddleback is that we take an annual retreat together. This week I’ve been enjoying a much-needed week away with the team. I needed it for my own soul and refreshment, but our team needs it as well. Here’s why:

We eat/laugh/play together
I laughed last night more than I have in a long time. I laugh a lot, most people even think of me as an easy laugh, but last night was particularly fun. In the “head down” rushing pace of youth ministry sometimes we forget to laugh. Getting away on a retreat let’s you put your guard down. Conversations over meals are the best, and time in the pool or on the tennis courts is super fun.

We share stories together
Last night we had a youth ministry art show – everyone on the team was given a small canvas and asked to create something about youth ministry. It was incredible to see the heart come out and some really unique perspectives on the each others stories and the story of youth ministry.

We make memories together
The more memories, the strong the bond. Staff retreat gives us a chance for spontaneous memories to form and new inside jokes to be created. It helps fill trust reservoirs.

We head home to do battle with the enemy together
The team that retreats together … advances together. Most of the team heads back tomorrow to immediately dive into the final throes of HSM Summer Camp prep. We’ll jump right into an extremely busy season, but filled and ready to fight again for another year.