SYMC 2013 – A Look Back

My favorite four days of the year (non-family related) occur during the Simply Youth Ministry Confernce. Coincidence? I think not. I love this conference. I could write pages and pages on why this is so, but I think I can sum it up in one sentence -

This is what I imagine heaven will be like

This conference is not about giving you the latest and greatest training, although they offer hundreds of hours of training from some of the best youth ministry professionals around. Its not about selling you top notch resources, even though they have hundreds of books and dvds that you can take home with you.
This conference is about Jesus. Plain and simple. We are invited into the transformative presence of Jesus. My friend and Group Magazine editor Rick Lawrence (@RickSkip) recently tweeted, “Wow, the SYMC experience was subversively redemptive and authentically prophetic.” What an amazing way to sum up the conference. Most of the youth ministers were looking simply to become better youth ministers, but Jesus showed up in surprising ways to bring about healing and redeemption. Simply put, this conference puts Jesus first, trusting that our ministries, families, and lives will fall into place when we encounter the living savior.
When you reflect on a conference, usually you give some of the things you learned or the biggest takeaways. I hate to disappoint you, but I had little of that this year. Its not that it wasn’t there, but its because this year for me was all about relationships. The last three plus years have been difficult in so many ways. I didn’t need a workshop on how to recruit volunteers (although the conference had several great ones!). What I needed was friends. And this year my cup overflowed with great conversations and time spent with friends. I loved running into some old friends, deeping relationships with ones I didn’t know too well, and meeting new friends.
I had a new experience this year – being a part of two peer panels. I was a panel member for the “Living on a Shoestring Budget” panel and was the facilitator for the “Social Justice and Community Outreach” panel. I loved it! Great discussion, great questions. Hopefully we helped people but it was a tremendous honor to be able to participate.
The main speakers were great. Worship with Shane & Shane and the Jordan Howerton Band was amazing. The airtime speakers were encouraging. The sessions I went to were very helpful. Its just so hard to encapsulate 4-5 days of awesomeness into just a few words. Thank you to Group Publishing and Simply Youth Ministry for caring about the souls of Youth Workers and not the wallets. Thank you for all the hard work that went into the conference. And, if you’ve never been before, mark your calendars for next year’s confernce in Columbus, OH on March 7-10! Hope to see you there!


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