symc-2014

Are you registered for SYMC 2014? When I head out to Columbus, I want to pack lite and be ready for a great experience! This is not an exhaustive list of tech tips to make SYMC 2014 smooth sailing, but hopefully you will be able to mentally download some good trips ideas here. These tips come from years of conference-going and many are specific to my time with SYMC. I hope these will help you have a more successful trip!

TIP #1 Know what tracks and workshops you want to attend (at least know what is available). Knowing ahead of time will make your life easier. Check out the scheduling tool SYMC has provided symc2014.sched.org. If you prefer to schedule directly from your smartphone click here. Check out the details on the scheduling resource here conference.youthministry.com/schedule.

TIP #2 Book Store Discount…Bring your senior pastor’s credit card!

TIP #3 Bring a bag/backpack. You will be carrying your Bible, Participant Journal, Pen, Hotel Key, iPod, Headphones, Cell Phone, Water Bottle, Laptop, Moleskine, Deodorant, Backup Hotel Key, Gum, Chapstick, USB Thumb Drive, (remember when we actually carried a Digital Camera too?)…and on top of all that you will need to leave room for all the stuff you pick up in different areas of the conference hallways from conference partners, in workshops, and at the bookstore while you are at SYMC.

TIP #4 Bring business cards and address stickers. This is a little nerdy and lazy but I do not like filling out my address dozens of times over the weekend…I have seen people stick a sticker on those forms, complete with; Name, Address, Phone, and Email. The business cards are for networking…you may want to bring something to hold other people’s cards so you don’t lose them (or take a picture of it with your cell phone app that turns business cards into a contact and throw the card out…when they are not looking).

TIP #5 Connect with other youth workers! If you bring team members, don’t do the easy thing by spending all your time with them. Try to spend time with people you may never get to see again. Try a Connect Group. Find the National Network of Youth Ministries and ask them to help you meet other youth workers in your area. Ask people in your workshops to lunch and kick around what you have been learning or struggling with…if they say they can’t because they are on a budget offer to buy.

TIP #5.5 Connect with the speakers. There will be aome of the sharpest minds in youth ministry at SYMC. Connect!

TIP #6 Need some love?? Soul Care, enough said!

TIP #7 Don’t forget the tag your tweets with #SYMC. Run a search for #SYMC on Twitter to see and be a part of all the buzz!

TIP #8 See someone taking notes like crazy? Ask if they are a blogger and if they are posting their notes online!

TIP #9 Bring a squirt gun and shoot the guy who has to answer every question the track speaker asks, just kidding….but seriously, don’t be that guy.

TIP #10 When you get home write a short letter to your ministry point person on your leadership team telling them how amazing your time at SYMC was, share a few nuggets of what you learned, and thank them for making it possible (time away, money, etc…this effort can go a long way with leadership). If you paid for SYMC yourself, write that letter to your spouse. If you are single, take yourself out for ice cream and review your notes. If you are lactose intolerant consider taking one of those Lactaid pills or just pray about the risk.

I know there are way more than 10 tips, and I am sure that you have some that are even better than these. So, please share your best conference tips in the comments below! Hope to see you at SYMC 2014!!!!!

-Brandon

@uthguy9

FlightTrack-ProI am a fan of the iPhone app FlightTrack Pro and TripIt. I seem to have seasons of busy travel and these apps help keep all my travel plans centrally located. TripIt is free, if you don’t mind ads, but FlightTrack Pro is $10 (their is a $5 version…but go big or go home!).

TripIt takes your trip details (confirmations from hotels, airlines, etc) and creates a helpful itinerary right on my iPhone (or Android). It will sync with your calendar app and online at tripit.com. After you have registered an email address with TripIt you can simply forward any of your confirmation emails from that address to plans@tripit.com. You do not need TripIt for FlightTrack Pro to work but FlightTrack Pro will seamlessly use all your Tripit data…COOL!

FlightTrack Pro allows you to see flight details on zoomable maps and get real-time departure info, delays, and gate numbers.  This app has been super helpful when I am traveling to a youth ministry conference, flying out to speak at a retreat or events, or taking teams on a mission trip.

A Few Highlights:

  • Sync’s with TripIt and phone’s calendar
  • Share flight status by email, Facebook or Twitter (parent win!)
  • Offline mode for use in airplanes – maps still work!
  • Airtime, aircraft, and speed & altitude (Nerdy Flight Stats)
  • Real-time status for gates, delays and cancellations

If flying is your things you might want to check out FlightBoard too, it helps when monitor connections, delays, and arrivals ($4).

How is this app free? Well, I went to Starbucks today and saw that the $10 FlightTrack Pro app was their free app of the week.  That means you need to get to a Starbucks before Tuesday July 9th and grab a “Pick of the Week” card. If you do not have a Starbucks near you post a comment asking for a code…I grabbed a dozen to share.

 

**UPDATED**
All the codes are gone.  Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for more give-a-ways!



article.2013.04.09This week we’re going to take on the top 3 questions that we get when people come to visit our youth ministry. You’ll get mine (Josh) today and Kurt’s tomorrow. Here are 3 very frequently asked questions:

How can I start a youth ministry internship at my church?
We are very blessed to have some really incredible interns at our church and a program that doesn’t cost the church a ton of money that produces some pretty amazing youth workers. If you want to start one, you’ve got to answer some very basic but fundamental questions about the program:

  • Will we pay the interns?
  • Where are they going to live/eat/office?
  • What is the duration of the program?
  • What are we hoping to accomplish in both them and in our ministry?

If you can answer those basic questions, you are off to a great start! For starters, I would pay the interns a very small stipend, if possible, to help cover gas and a couple meals, and keep the duration short like a summer term. Map out the basics of what they will be doing and how you want to shape them and you’re well on your way.

While I don’t have space for much more, for extra credit here’s a roadmap of where to go next:

  • Look for margin where you can add managing interns to your regular workweek. The last thing interns need is an absent leader!
  • Create a required reading list during the internship.
  • Schedule a few times for them to interact with key leaders in the church.
  • As you plan their development, consider having them observe, follow then lead an event, youth service and volunteer from application to placement.

How many events do you guys do at your church?
We made a decision long ago that we weren’t going to build a ministry that was event-driven. But to be honest, we have to continually fight the advance of program creep. Program creep is where you continue to add more and more and not take anything away!

With that in mind, we have our weekly youth group on the weekend and small groups that meet in homes during the week, and then just occasional supplemental events from there. A serve project here, a Dodgeball tournament there. We consciously don’t do a ton of events to keep balance on the biblical purposes. Just so you know, in summer we do a TON more events, so things change with the seasons, too!

So do you teach every week at youth group?
I would guess I teach about 50% of the time in our youth ministry I love giving the platform away for so many reasons:

  • Students need to hear from different voices
  • Sometimes the same thing being said by someone else sticks.
  • Leaders need platforms to develop their speaking skills.
  • I need a break!

Don’t be afraid to give away your platform a little bit you might be surprised at how quickly you fall in love with the byproducts of it. Just keep in mind as the point person make sure you are speaking at the key times and visible and supportive when you’re not on stage.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Who’s It Gonna Be?!?

It’s been all over the news! Everyone is talking about who is going to win the NCAA Championship tonight. Will it be the University of Michigan who hasn’t won since 1989 or the University of Louisville who hasn’t won a championship since 1986!

Our vote at the office, “Who do you think is going to win tonight and why?”:

Storm: “Louisville. I don’t even watch basketball and I know they’re going to win.”

Justin: “Michigan. Because they beat VCU who has a similar playing style as Louisville.”

Scott: “Louisville.”

Stephanie: “Michigan, duh. Since State got knocked out I have to stand behind at least one Michigan team.”

Alright YM Nation, who do you think is going to win tonight?!?

Post your winner in the comment section!

Steph (Go Blue!)

image VS.  university-of-michigan_logo



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The word “urban” seems simple to define but “urban teenager” is anything but simple to understand and explain. Even if you’re a youth worker in rural Kentucky or suburban California, you have urban students in your midst. The days of identifying and labeling our teenagers based on where they live, what they wear, or the color of their skin are gone. Today, everybody’s urban.

—-Own YOUR copy of Everybody’s Urban NOW!—-

More and more teenagers are stuck in survival mode, unable to see beyond today. Their dreams have been stolen, and they’ve given up on ever recapturing them.

But veteran youth pastors Jeffrey Wallace and Leneita Fix know there’s hope.

Everybody’s Urban is infused with their hard-won insights into the urban youth experience, along with dozens of real-world strategies for ministering to today’s teenagers.

About the Authors:

 NEWleneita_fix_bw Leneita Fix recently celebrated her 20th year in ministry. Her passion is multiplying ALL youth workers (full time, paid, unpaid, volunteer, or bivocational) by aiding them to become better trained and equipped. She is honored to be a part of a family that ministers together, with her husband, John, a niece, and three beautiful children.

jeffrey_wallace_bw Jeffrey Wallace is the president and CEO of Front Line Urban Resources, Inc, which focuses on training and mentoring urban youth pastors and leaders, and providing life-changing youth ministry resources. He’s also founder of Simply Urban Ministry. Jeffrey serves as pastor of youth development at Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.

So thankful to be a part of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference again this year (since the beginning, actually!) and love this video of highlights from the whole thing. Can’t wait to do it all again next year in Columbus!

JG



This past weekend thousands of youth ministers participated in the Simply Youth Ministry Conference.  As a participant in the past few I know that feelings of empowerment and encouragement are flowing through this years attendees minds and souls.  The reason these conferences can be such a powerful experience is because of the camaraderie and the opportunity to take a youth ministry “Time Out”.

The problem with a conference like Simply Youth Ministry is that it’s only a weekend.  After a weekend of euphoria you are forced to go home and face:

  • That hurting teen.
  • A pastor you clash with.
  • An angry parent.
  • A semi committed ministry team.

Youth ministry is filled with hills and valleys.  It’s like a long run with no end in site.  The only way to get through it is ONE STEP AT A TIME.  To endure in this emotional, exhausting and journey that you and I call youth ministry you need to make sure you:

Network With Other Youth Workers: You can connect with these men and women at conferences, speak with your pastor or visit sites like the National Network of Youth Ministry.  Build relationships with men and women who know what you are facing.

Set-up Limits: This means creating a schedule that protects your time at home and what is most important at work.  It also means learning how to say “No” even if the opportunity seems incredible.  Work within your limits and see how God will bless you.

Seek Personal Accountability:  Find men or women in your church that you can meet with to talk about life, share goals and call you out when you are straying from what’s important.  If you don’t know where to start, talk to your pastor, ask fellow youth workers or talk with one of your volunteers to recommend people.

Embrace The Moments: Everything that is good in your ministry is significant.  When a teen invites a friend, quotes something from your message on Twitter or testifies in front of their peers, remember it.  For all the bad in youth ministry there is so much good.  As youth ministers you need to celebrate and share it with your coworkers, volunteers, parents, teens and other youth workers.  It’ll remind you why what you do is worth it.

Observe A Sabbath: As a youth worker you need to find other ways of embracing the Sabbath outside of Sundays.  While you might be at church it’s still easy to mix work with worship.  Take a day where you spend it quietly with God or join a prayer group not associated with your church.  If you can’t connect with God you’ll make yourself more exposed to Satan’s tricks.

Youth ministry is a battle because you are dealing with changing lives and relationships.  To truly survive and thrive you need to rely on God’s strength and love.  Invest in people who will invest in you and keep moving one step at a time.  Your work, dedication and heart for the next generation is priceless, fuel it.

How do you endure the long haul of youth ministry?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

 

 

The announcements for Sunday Night at SYMC … with a little twist!

JG