Today’s American Statesman has an article on the Youth Specialties Convention happening in Austin right now. Here’s clip from the beginning, there’s some good debate about student’s faith life after graduation toward the end, too.

Many of the 3,000 Christian youth ministers who gathered at the Austin Convention Center on Friday looked young enough to be confused with the teens they lead.

They wore shorts, jeans, flip-flops and ball caps. Some had tattoos. Some had baby strollers.

David Crowder and his band kicked off the first general session of the youth ministers convention Friday.

At 39, Tim Stone, youth pastor at Freedom Fellowship Church in Magnolia, joked that he was one of the old fogies at the National Youth Workers Convention, a five-day conference featuring seminars, worship music, Christian comedy and late-night theological discussions.

But Stone had no trouble relating to the concerns and frustrations of his 25-year-old counterparts in youth ministry. Salaries are low. Demands are high. The long hours can strain marriages. And given the self-centered nature of many teens, youth ministers aren’t always fully appreciated by the kids they serve.

But most talked about their vocations — helping the next generation love and follow Jesus — as one of the most important roles they could play in the church. Which is why California-based Youth Specialties organizes conferences each year in different cities: to help rejuvenate and inspire those called to lead young people.

One minister wore a T-shirt that read “My kids. My calling. My passion. My life.” That sentiment reflects a special dedication among those who work with youths, leaders say, but it also can create challenges in a minister’s personal life.