Its been a few days and I think I have caught up on most of the sleep I missed on the weekend at Simply Youth Ministry Conference and I can say with certainty that it was worth all the overtiredness. I have been a full time Youth Pastor for eighteen months now and SYMC 2011 was my first taste of a full on Youth Ministry conference. It was an incredible experience and I have returned home with a greater understanding of just how blessed we are to be called to Youth Ministry. My highlights of the conference could be summed up in these three words:
Inspired: From the worship times, to the general sessions, SYMC nourished my soul from start to finish. Doug Fields opening night sermon was so incredibly intricate and thoughtful I can’t stop telling people about it and worshiping with three thousand men and women sold out to the cause of Christ is an experience I will not soon forget. There were so many elements that amazed and encouraged me in my ministry and if I am honest, there were some elements that did not go ever as well I am sure they were planned, which for those of us in the trenches it’s encouraging that its doesn’t happen to just us.
Family: From the beginning of the weekend, Doug and everyone else talked about family, from the platform speakers, to worship bands, to the skit guys, the conference was about family. What was incredible is how that concept flowed out into the lobby where youth workers just connected with the selfless inclusiveness that only youth workers can. It happened in the packed restaurants, the sack chair lounges and the elevators where people engaged one another and shared a laugh when the elevator alarm would go off because it was overloaded. The excitement of a common experience of the conference and even more so of the common calling to build the Kingdom by doing Youth Ministry was incredible.
Equipped: Part of my draw to SYMC this year was that I was excited to have the opportunity to learn from some of the best YM minds in the world and I was not disappointed. I did an eight-hour deeper learning track on Theology and Youth Ministry and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and I am a better youth pastor for going. The options were endless and no matter where you were at educationally, emotionally or vocationally coming into the weekend, there was a session that was thoughtfully crafted for you. The intentionality of the breadth of learning opportunities was remarkably thorough.
As I sit back and think about the weekend, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with the blessing I experienced in being there, but also the immense task that I have to now undertake as I take what I have learned and practically apply it to our ministry. I am up for the challenge, feeling renewed and revitalized that I am not alone in this. If you have never been to a conference like this before I urge you to consider making it a priority to get to one next year, you will not regret it.
Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. You can, too! See how right here.