Hey everyone! I’m excited to leave tomorrow for Indianapolis for the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. My friend Jake Rutenbar and I are the co-hosts of the event and have some incredible stuff planned. Couldn’t be more excited! Throughout the week I’ll be blogging from the event and sending Tweets and updates from the incredible weekend.

Couple things you should know: 1) Many of the SYMC general sessions will be live-streamed on SimplyYouthMinistry.TV – you can stay tuned to this post for the final schedule as it becomes available. And 2) I wanted to once again list out the bloggers that are attending the event that you can grab learnings from all weekend.

Coming to SYMC? Leave a comment and I’ll add you to the list:


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!


Just wondering – are you headed to a youth ministry conference in the next 12 months? Vote in today’s poll! I’m going to be at several of them this year (you can check them out on the Youth Pastor 1st, Speaker Guy 2nd page) including the Simply Youth Ministry Conference – hope to see you there!


Our favorite time of the year is quickly approaching — the Simply Youth Ministry Conference is just around the corner. This March in Louisville we’re going to be hanging with 3,000 of our closest youth ministry friends. Hope you can join us! Even if you aren’t coming to SYMC, the chances are pretty good you will find yourself at some sort of conference in the future. Here are a few thoughts to make the most of your next youth ministry conference or training event:

Connect with people
Don’t be “that guy” (the guy who works way too hard to network, rub shoulders, etc.), but if you only use your time to catch a few workshops and sessions then you may be missing out on an opportunity to talk to some really insightful people.

Workshop presenters are insightful people, and are surprisingly open to the idea of sharing a coffee or a meal (especially if you schedule after they are done with their speaking schedule), but don’t make the mistake of thinking the “experts” are the only folks worth learning from! We could make a really strong argument that the best folks to rub shoulders with and get to know at a conference are the in-the-trenches men and women who have a story to share from last night’s youth group, not the one they led fifteen years ago (ouch….zinger!).

Ditch a session
This one stings to write as some of the people responsible for what happens during the general sessions. I’d (Josh) like to think that I create something so compelling you would never consider this! But time away from the church is precious and rare, a long dinner or conversation that shouldn’t end might be the best use of your time.

Inside tip: conferences kick off the conference right, if you’re gonna slip out of one, don’t miss the first big session for sure!

Sleep in late
You probably don’t sleep enough. Sleep in. You have our permission.

Get in early or stay an extra day
Arrive a day early, or stay an extra day to veg out a little bit. Your church (or in many cases, you) paid a lot to be there for the weekend — so take your time going home. Take a day to debrief, visit Disneyland or a spend time observing a youth ministry/leader you follow who lives in the area.

Be engaged
When Francis Chan speaks, everyone listens. Actually, many people can’t resist checking their email or texting funny observations to the youth pastor across the convention center instead of being fully engaged. Don’t quench the Spirit (just played that card) by sneaking looks at your cell phone.

Inside tip: don’t write off a speaker because you have never heard of them. Or because you have heard of them and don’t like what you’ve heard. Prepare to be surprised!

Hope to see you at SYMC in March!

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.