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KurtJohnston

Kurt Johnston has been a youth pastor since 1988 and currently leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted voices in youth ministry, Kurt loves to encourage other youth workers and has written and created over 50 books and resources with that goal in mind. In his free time, Kurt enjoys surfing and riding dirt bikes in the desert with his wife and two children.

As I type this, I’m sitting in my hotel room replaying the last four days at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Tons of stuff is swirling around in my bald little head.

Learning.  I learned some new stuff, but the “learnings” that seemed most powerful to me where reminders of stuff I already know, but have a tendency to forget. Here are three examples:

1. Volunteers might be the most dedicated youth workers on the planet! I met loads of men and women who are in charge of their youth group, but do so while also juggling a career. Like me, they write lessons, lead small groups, deal with upset parents, go to church meetings, and spend time with students. They just don’t have the luxury to so within the hours of 9-5.

 2. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference. There were workshops on all sorts of important aspects of youth ministry: dealing with crisis, partnering with parents, creating a strategy, etc.  All very important stuff. But in conversation after conversation, I was reminded that the little things like being a good listener, returning a text in a timely manner, or sending a hand-written birthday card are the things that seem to make the biggest impact in the lives of our students. They just don’t make for compelling workshop titles!

3. This one hurts. I learned (or was painfully reminded) that I can have a critical spirit. The Simply Youth Ministry Conference is an AMAZING event that is unmatched by any other conference. Yet, I found myself being overly critical of the silliest of things. “Why isn’t this door unlocked like it should be?” “Why did the Skit Guys only make me laugh 55 times instead of 57?”  “Why is the junior high track next to Subway? I don’t wanna smell bread all day!”  Sometimes the most important lessons are ones you wish you didn’t need to learn.

 

Laughing.  I laughed. A lot.  And the best part was that it wasn’t only the laughter provided by the skit guys or other people on stage. I laughed with my fellow youth workers as we walked from workshop to workshop. I laughed with new friends over meals. I laughed with my own youth ministry team while we played late night rounds of Monopoly Deal.

 

Life.   What I love most about SYMC is the reminder that I’m not alone. Youth ministry is tough…it’s amazing, but tough. And in a room filled with thousands of others just like me I was reminded that a life that includes youth ministry is a life well lived.

Living Youth Ministry Life With You,

Kurt

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