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6 Things I Learned About Youth Ministry While Emceeing a Conference

 —  July 24, 2014 — 2 Comments

10397027_812420915457057_1526065733405536655_oLast week I had the privilege of emceeing Challenge, the national conference for EFCA students. There were about 4500 students and 1000 youth workers. The energy was high, the students were dialed in to learning and serving, and the adult leaders were committed shepherds…I was encouraged and impressed. These “6 Things I Learned About Youth Ministry While Emceeing a Conference” are not brand new, but they rose to the top of my learning as good reminders of why and how I do what I do as a youth worker. These 5 things are mirrored in youth ministry but were amplified in a way that helped sharpen me in my ministry. I hope they do the same for you.

  • Pray:
    This conference was prayed for like no other event I have ever been part of. When I was asked to take on the role of emcee I received a job description with direction and expectations. Prayer was in it multiple times, and not in a churchy way, but in a way of humility and expectation…”we cannot do this without prayer.” Leadership was asked to pray before entering into any work for the conference. So, if I was going to sit and work on a game idea for 30 minutes I prayed first. They weren’t being legalistic, they were being expectant…This is God’s. Let’s raise the level of prayer. This has changed the way I enter into any work I do.
  • Make Students the Stars:
    In the picture above you see me with a hand full of students on a couch. It’s an idea I pitched to the leadership asking them if I could bring students on stage every morning and run a 5 to 7 minutes small group recapping everything from the conference. This helped thread the theme throughout the entire week and it put peers on stage which was a huge win. When preparing for ministry nights I look for ways to put students on the stage in a way that makes them and Jesus look good (if I can find ways to have them communicate biblical truth to their peers I let them). How are you doing this in your ministry? I would love to hear in the comments below.
  • Every time I am behind the mic I am an influencer (and every time a student sees me off stage I am an influencer):
    Anyone in the spotlight has a measure of influence. I have heard professional athletes say, “I did not sign up to be a role model.” It does not matter if that is reason they signed up…people are watching (impressionable people). I am not comparing myself to a pro-athlete. I’m just saying there was a stewardship of leadership on and off the stage. Just like walking in the halls and teaching back in my church, I needed to be intentional with my time and words.
  • Get the rest you need:
    Sure, I need to take care of my body, but I need to be ready to engage in conversation at any moment. I need down time and I have never noticed it as much as I did this week. Without rest I am crabby, short, and impersonal. With rest I am ready, have more patience, and am more fun to be around. Rest = Readiness. When I am reseted I can focus on others better, when I am exhausted I focus on me more.
  • Every interaction has the potential to be special:
    I am not a big deal (I was there to serve), but students thought I was a big deal, so they thought it was a big deal, when I treated them like a big deal.
    I prayed with students.
    I interacted on social media with students.
    I jumped into small group conversations with students and their leaders.
    I ate with students.
    I leveraged my position to make their experience great. How can we do that in our ministry context? How are you making a big deal out of the students in your ministry?
  • I need others:
    When you are on stage or needed somewhere else, or on vacation, or whatever…who will be taking care of the other things (students, administration, the music, your leadership team, etc). If you do everything you are in danger of burning out and not letting others shine. Watching all the moving parts reminded me how important it is to nurture my volunteers and student leaders. Ministry nights are not about “ME,” there are built by “WE.” Together more can happen, multiplying is hard but worth it.

Brandon Early

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I have been serving in youth ministry for nearly 20 years, am currently the Director of Student Ministries at Valley Church in Des Moines, IA, and am on a first name basis with several Best Buy and Apple employees. My wife Keri and I have been married over ten years and have three great boys. My four favorite things are Jesus, my wife, Chicago Style Pizza, and fighting off our boys with sweet ninja moves.

2 responses to 6 Things I Learned About Youth Ministry While Emceeing a Conference

  1. Brandon,

    The thought that “every encounter has the potential to be special” is something I have to remind myself daily. Also included: emails, phone calls, interruptions at the office, and even silly activities. God uses the little things to often become big things in the lives of students. Great point!

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