I’ve been thinking deeply about different types of trainings available to those of us who serve Jesus and try to help kids and families.

Here’s why “training” has been on my mind lately:

(1) This weekend in Louisville, KY many of my friends are gathering at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. One of the great privileges of my ministry career was to architect and start this conference 6 years ago. Together, with some amazing hearts/minds/leaders/friends we established a great conference during the 5 years I worked there. While I’m no longer on the Simply Youth Ministry team, I have no doubt their event this weekend will again be amazing!

(2) Today, I’m with Youth Specialties (YS)—both as a staff/team member, but also in Philadelphia for two days of training called YSPalooza. It’s a great, fast-moving, volunteer-friendly training event that we’re doing in 6 different locations this spring. There’s still 3 more opportunities coming up.

(3) Last week, I was with a very talented and creative team of leaders who were planning this fall’s National Youth Workers’ Convention (San Diego Oct. 11-14 & Dallas Nov. 15-18). For 30+ years, YS has had the largest and most diverse youth ministry environments and their future includes more incredible training.

[Plug: for just a few more days, YS is running a “Leap Year” special for $209—which is close to 50% off. $50 deposit reserves a spot while they last.]

(4) On Monday the 4th, I will be in Orlando speaking to 3000+ youth workers at the Hard Rock Café at Universal Studios–Youth Pastor Summit. This free youth ministry training is sponsored by Jay Strack (Student Leadership University) and is ½ day training & then free admission into the Theme Park (free+Universal Studios=big crowd). I’m looking forward to this event!

(5) The last few days, my friend/collegue/youth pastor (Jim Burns) and I have been finalizing details on a Family Ministry Conference that we’re hosting at Azusa Pacific University (where we both teach) in May 10-12. We have an amazing line-up of leaders in children’s, youth, family, marriage, men/women/etc… It will be another great event.

Can you see why I’ve been thinking a lot about training lately—I’ve been immersed in all levels of it.

I made of a Top 10 list of benefits connected to a time of “Get-Away-Training” (while there’s obvious value in any type of training, the opportunities that move you from your office/home setting have some additional value.)

Here’s my list of 10:

1. Rest: I’m not referring to nap-type-rest, I mean rest from the “common-grind” of one’s daily routine.

2. Reflection: It’s often difficult to reflect when you’re on the freeway of ministry and these opportunities allow you to pull over, slow down, stop… and reflect.

3. Renewal: Usually because of “rest” and “reflection”… a sense of emotional/spiritual renewal appears.

4. Relationships: I know some who primarily go to conferences just to see their friends (who they only see at these yearly gatherings).

5. Team-building: My greatest memories with my team of leaders revolve around these times of “get-away-training”. You can’t put a price on this to define the depth of what happens to a team that gets away.

6. Learning: Humble people learn—even from those they disagree with. The prideful don’t. Leaders are learners and when you stop learning you’ll eventually stop leading with strength.

7. Worship: Sometimes it’s difficult for me to worship at my church (key word: “sometimes”) because I’m thinking of all I have to do, what I’m going to speak on, why the person pressing the lyric buttons can’t keep up, etc… Good, conference style worship provides me a breath of freshness that is good for my soul.

8. Resource-gathering: I love seeing/hearing/browsing what’s out there and what others are doing.

9. Access to key thought leaders: Books have shaped my life, but it’s tough to ask questions to books. I love being in settings where I can engage and learn with authors/thinkers who have inspired me. Personally, I’m super stoked to participate in dialogue with Barna & Daily (new President of Focus on the Family).

10. Fun: When the “collective soup” of the above 9 ingredients are present… it’s just a fun experience.

There’s my reasons… what are yours? Add something to the list here.

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