As I sit writing this we’re halfway through this year’s Youthwork the conference. You’ll have heard lots of great things from speakers, stayed up too late last night, and rushed around trying to grab lunch. This conference is so important – not because the conference is the best, or the speakers are the biggest names, but because for one weekend we get to take off our mantle of responsibility and leadership, and become participants and receivers.
So here are 6 ways to help you get the most out of the next 24 hours of Youthwork the conference:
1: Take a Seminar You Don’t Agree With: My favourite thing is to hang out with people who agree with me and like all my ideas, my model of youth ministry. Yet most of the opposing views aren’t ridiculous, and are held by equally passionate Christians who are committed to seeing young people come to lasting faith. Being challenged in your theology and practice will actually sharpen you and cause genuine growth. Because we are all at the same conference, chances are you already agree on the big stuff, so let the small stuff sharpen and refine you.
2: Don’t Go to Everything: We don’t want you to do everything – there’s main sessions, seminars, keynotes, after hours, networking meetings. We can only cope with so much, so don’t do everything. Find the ones that are most interesting and helpful, go to those and ditch the rest. This conference is our one time a year to get recharged. If we cram our brains with too much information, we will get worn out before we even get home. Hit the beach, take a nap, read a book, meet up with friends.
3: Find 3 Practical Take-A-Ways: There is so much to learn at a conference. Everyone has a good idea that will revolutionise your ministry. Remember though that you have a very specific context in which you do ministry. You know your young people the best. Find 3 practical things you can add to your current ministry to tweak it and improve it. Once you have your three, stop – trust what God has been doing in your ministry already.
4: Wrestle With One New Concept: You will be challenged to adopt all sorts of new ministry models, curriculum, and causes. While I think it is silly to chuck what you have been doing because of some great marketing, it is important to be open to new things that God has for you and your ministry. Use the conference experience for God to begin or confirm a new work in you and in your ministry.
5: Connect, Connect, Connect: Our journey in ministry is hard, we need fellow youth workers who understand young people, what it means to work with the church. This conference gives you an opportunity to connect with other youth workers. Make new friends, nurture old ones, just connect and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through this unique community in this unique setting.
6: Be Expectant: At the end of the day, our attitude 100% shapes what we take a way from any conference experience. God has all sorts of work to do on our souls and in our ministries. God wants nothing more than to encourage us in our faith and in our calling. Let us cut away the parts of our hearts that are hard, cold, judgmental, self-righteous, and rude, and ask God to give us his eyes, his ears, his heart as we lean into all that God has for us.
May God use every single thing while we are away to restore our weary souls. Every session, every speaker, every conversation to fill up our cups to overflowing so that we can go back to our ministry context and live fully into the woman or man that God called us to be. Let us soak up this mountain top experience so we can enter back into the valley with clear vision and purpose. And may all of it be to the glory of God. Blessings!