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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.

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The Best Youth Ministry
Stuff of 2011!

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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.

+++++++++++++++++++
The Best Youth Ministry
Stuff of 2011!

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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!
 

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