The Simply Youth Ministry Conference was fantastic. I know I said that I would blog every second of it, but I was completely naive of the mixture of exhaustion and rejuvenation I would be experiencing. There were so many things that rocked my world this weekend, and I’m excited to share them with you.
There was so much community with SYMC.
I got to meet some really fantastic people whose blogs I follow and whose wisdom I admire.
There was a variety of classes to choose from. One day, I couldn’t make up my mind, so I literally just YOLO’d and walked into a random class. It ended up being a very good decision.
There were a fair amount of women teaching classes.
There were options for classes that were practical, theological, and educational. Whether you were a teacher, a volunteer, or a pastor’s wife (or husband), there was something for you.
The variety of personalities represented by the speakers was fantastic. There was a mix of “famous” to sell tickets with a mix of “needed” for some soul care.
The resource center was fantastic. The booths were great too.
There was a Canadian pin for your I.D. I’m not Canadian, but I grabbed one for Kolby Milton.
The conference was set in a really central place with tons of options for food and entertainment.
There was a Starbucks in the hotel. Enough said.
We did a Harlem Shake.
I learned a lot. Like, a lot.
- I wasn’t able to attend a panel because the schedule could be hectic, especially if you like to eat once or twice a day.
- There were a lot of women at the conference, but very few on stage. A total of 4 women stepped onto that stage, including one of the musicians.
- The big-group sessions were super long. In their defense, they utilized that time well. But still, for me to stay in one place for 2 1/2 hours is a challenge.
- My hotel pillow smelled. I know that’s not SYMC’s fault. I’m just saying!
- There weren’t enough minorities represented, period. On stage, as teachers, and even in the crowd. I would love to see more of that.
- There was no urban ministry connect group. Or a pin for my I.D.
- Nobody wanted to find me and win free stuff from the YouthMin.Org Marketplace.
- No youth pastor is a rockstar. Whether you’re Josh Griffin or Kassy, this girl I met at Starbucks; we all have something to contribute to the Youth Ministry community. Also, those youth pastors who you may look at as a rockstar don’t look at themselves like a rockstar. They’re just as weird, love students just as much, and have just as many struggles as you do.
- We need to be more transparent with one another. We are in youth ministry together, and it’s about time we share burdens with one another and live in real community.
- A grimy penny is worth just as much as a shiny penny. That student who has a bunch of junk in their life and is a thorn in your side? God values him the same as that kid who is perfect. And God also values him the same as you.
- While some may plant and others may water, it is God who causes the growth. Yet, your responsibility may just be to ready the soil by chipping away at all the gravel and clumps it has gathered.
- Quit balancing, hiding, or trying to stir in your sins and burdens. Give them to God.
- Youth pastors are a lot like their youth. I saw a couple “comforting each other” during worship. Once the overwhelming B.O. (or maybe it was Axe?) singed my nose hairs. I saw “that guy” with the guitar. And there were people running around like cray cray.
- Don’t skip out on community at these conferences. Fight the urge to go to bed at 9. Stay out and learn from other youth pastors. Talk to the people in the elevator. Don’t not talk to someone just because their haircut is too cool for you or their blog is actually read.
What are some things that you learned? Pros? Cons? I would love to hear about them in the comments. If you blogged about SYMC, I encourage you to link it in the comments, as well!
Heather Lea Campbell is a fresh graduate from Southwest Baptist University with degrees in Youth Ministry and Theology. Heather is dedicated to reaching cross-culturally, cross-generationally, and cross-gender to create a theologically-rich and discipleship-centered youth ministry culture. She blogs at http://heatherleacampbell.blogspot.com/