I just had the privilege of spending the last few days with a few thousand youth workers at the National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego. Youth ministry conferences are always a wonderful experience and I think every youth worker should attend one. Yes, they cost money, and yes, you may already have a lot of youth ministry knowledge but here are 5 reasons you should make youth specific conferences a priority.
1. You can always learn something
Here is the thing, leaders are learners. If you are a leader or you are in the process of becoming a leader you should always be looking for opportunities to learn and grow. While walking around the conference I kept running into friends who have been in youth ministry for 15+ years, could teach almost all of the sessions, but they weren’t even speaking at the conference. They were just attending. No one knows everything and you can always learn or be reminded of something, even if it is just one thing, you are never above learning.
My favorite part of attending youth ministry events is that you are guaranteed to meet a ton of other youth workers who are in the trenches just as you are. So many meaningful youth ministry relationships are made at conferences that WILL benefit you in the future. My first time preaching in a youth ministry setting came from an opportunity I got while sitting next to someone at a youth conference and just having a casual conversation. I have run into people from camps, professors I had in college, future mentors, prayer warriors able to lift me up, like minded pastors I was able to partner with to do events, and just all around great people who have become great friends. The networking taking place at conferences is worth the price of admission.
3. To Recharge
If your ministry is anything like mine you definitely need to pause and recharge from time to time. Youth ministry conferences are a great place to do just that. It is a chance to get away for a time, and be around a bunch of likeminded people who understand exactly what you are going through. Spiritually you are fed and able to focus on The Lord as you find rest for your soul and recharge your battery.
4. To Have Fun
Fun is inevitable at a youth ministry conference! I mean come on, you are surrounded by a bunch of youth workers. This weekend as we were crammed into the lobby waiting for the doors to open and a flood of youth workers to rush the auditorium and save the best seats I turned to one of my volunteers and said ‘if only we could bottle up the energy in this room we could power the city all day! The atmosphere is electric and it is just straight up fun!
5. Your ministry will benefit
Sure you or your church will spend money. Money on admission, money on food, and possibly money on travel arrangements. But it is an investment that WILL have a return and benefit your ministry. The knowledge you gain, relationships you make, and tips you learn are so valuable to you and your ministry. The pay off that comes in the form of helping expand your ministry is definitely worth the investment.
I would encourage every single youth worker to attend a youth specific conference. It doesn’t have to be the biggest and/or best and shiniest one, but do find one that will fit into your budget and make it happen!