connect groups

What Are Connect Groups?

Connect Groups are casual, small group-style gatherings led by in-the-trenches youth workers—a simple, comfortable way to connect with others in similar ministry or life stages for conversation, paving the way for genuine friendships with others who share your passion.

Why Do Connect Groups Exist?

A core value of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference is that relationships are essential in ministry, including relationships with ministry peers. When we launched SYMC, we created a conference where the conversations that took place OUTSIDE the classroom were valued as much as the material being taught. We gathered a few couches and Sack Chairs and offered intentional space where youth workers could be renewed by the encouragement and ideas from the thousands of other youth workers sharing this weekend together. Today these friendships and conversations have been truly life-changing for so many who come back, year after year, and for first-timers.

Are Connect Groups for Me?

Connect Groups are great for people who just want a “home base” group of people to connect with during the conference. If you’re coming alone, or if you’re simply interested in meeting new people and being inspired by ideas and encouragement from people who “get” you, these groups are for you. Connect Groups offer a safe, welcoming environment to hang out and be known! And you don’t have to attend every meeting. Stop by and hang out any time!

When Do They Meet?

Coming soon!

Where Do They Meet?

Just look for the cluster of Sack Chairs! You’ll see signs where Connect Groups have taken over the Sack Chairs—grab your lunch and wander by to check it out! More info coming soon!

Here are some the different Connect Groups to choose from and more to be announced…
• Wives of Youth Workers - f_icon_25px

(Leaders: Sarah Isley, Jana Snyder, Katie Sutton) Life can be crazy being married to a youth worker! Luckily, we’ve had some wonderful mentors and friends who are on a similar journey and have a great sense of humor. Join other wives in this community—we’ll share stories, laugh together, and encourage each other in this crazy journey.

• Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry - f_icon_25px

(Leaders: Rodney Caldwell, Ryan Schaible) Life can be crazy being a youth worker! Luckily, we’ve had some wonderful mentors and friends who are on a similar journey and have a great sense of humor. Join other youth workers in this community—we’ll share stories, laugh together, and encourage each other in this crazy journey.

• A Decade or More In Youth Ministry - f_icon_25px

(Leaders: Drew Aaron, Scott Tinman) This Connect Group is designed for those youth workers who have been serving students for 10+ years and have experienced the “good, the bad, and the ugly” of youth ministry. If you’ve moved beyond (or want to move beyond) the “bells and whistles” and want to passionately pursue health for yourself, your family, and your ministry (in that order), this group is for you.

• Small-Church Youth Ministry - f_icon_25px

(Leader: Chris Bartley, Melissa Rau) Small-church youth ministry leaders need the support and encouragement of each other! Small-church settings have their own particular dynamics and unique challenges. What you do is JUST as vital to the kingdom of God as what’s happening in bigger churches with bigger budgets. Join our Connect Group as we listen, share, cry, laugh, pray, eat… and hang on for dear life!

• Youth Ministry Volunteers - f_icon_25px

( Leaders: Paul and Sandy Spitka) First, THANK YOU for being a youth ministry volunteer. You’re the backbone of any healthy youth ministry. Two quick rules for our group: #1: You’re never allowed to say the words “I’m just a volunteer.” And #2: There won’t be any assignments or homework. So join us to get refreshed, share our joys, vent our struggles, and gain valuable insights into being the best servants of God that we can be.

• Women in Youth Ministry - f_icon_25px

(Leaders: Rachel Burns,  Hannah Burkle, Kerensa) Must I be a feminazi to prove my worth in God’s mission here? Do I have to play piano and lead worship in order to cut it as a “real” woman in ministry? How can I be effective if my husband or boyfriend isn’t inclined toward serving in youth ministry? Let’s talk about these issues and anything else taking up “plate space.” Whether you’re single, married, mom or not, and in youth ministry, we’ll meet and offer our support and encouragement through the conference.

Peer Panels
NEW Re-Thinking Evangelism
NEW How Youth Ministry Can Save the Church
NEW Building a Healthy Relationship With Your Sr. Pastor
NEW Weeds That Can Choke the Life Out of Your Ministry
NEW The Best Tech Games in the Universe
NEW Talking With Teenagers Instead of At Them
NEW As For Me and My (Crazy) House
NEW Secrets to Long-Term Youth Ministry
NEW Forming Multi-Faceted Community With Teenagers
• Dealing With Discipline Challenges In Your Ministry
• Savvy Financial Advice for Living On a Shoestring
• Responding Well to Teenagers’ Toughest Questions
• Strategies to Avoid Burnout In Ministry
• Thriving as a Single In a Couples World
• Thriving as Women in Youth Ministry
• Engaging Difficult Parents
• Healthy Living In a Lifestyle That Pushes Unhealthiness
• The Future of Youth Ministry
• Surprising Ideas for Deepening Your Students’ Faith
• Community-Based Outreach Ideas
• Talking With Students About Love & Dating & Sexuality & Marriage
• #EpicFail: Costly Lessons We’ve Learned from Ministry Mistakes
• Leading From Below: Becoming a Change Agent In Your Church
• Taking the Conference Home—Next Steps
• Growing Student Leaders