When SYM partnered with Group Publishing 5 years ago we began a youth ministry conference that was built on the combined values that were important to both of us. It has become one of the highlights of my year! Each year this conference gets better in quality and grows in attendance. For me, it feels like a family-reunion and I’m so excited to see the returning friends I’ve made over the last 5 years. Yesterday we officially SOLD OUT. While that’s not good news to those who haven’t signed up yet, it’s great news to those of us who have been working behind the scenes. This is a huge accomplishment and we’re grateful for the grassroots word-of-mouth that has helped spread the word.

If you’d still like to go, we’re starting a “waiting list” and there’s a possibility some room will open up.

One of my favorite parts of the pre-conference is hearing back from the folks who are coming to our event. We send them a list of questions (we call it the youth worker profile) where we ask the following questions:

1. I am called to:
2. In my ministry I need:
3. I’ve quit (or almost quit) youth ministry because:
4. I’m still in youth ministry because:
5. The one thing I know for sure is:
6. List five totally random things about my ministry:
7. List five totally random youth ministry confessions:
8. The reason I’m going (or want to go) to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference:

The reason I love reading these is because I feel like know the “tone” of the people coming before they arrive. It’s amazing how honest people are and their answers help us shape the conference. I thought I’d share one person’s (name withheld because I didn’t ask for permission) response to the last question.

“The reason I’m going to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference: I’m new to youth ministry, but not to professional ministry. I just feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I have trouble planning more than a week in advance. I started this job in November of last year at a church that is just reeling from conflict, disappointment, abandonment, and destructive leadership. I want to take the time and make the commitment to build something sustainable for children, youth, and families, but right now I’m flying by the seat of my pants. I need vision, tools, resources, and empowerment. I need to be listened to and nurtured and cared for. Right now we have no pastor; an interim left two weeks after I started. I feel like I’m responsible for EVERYTHING and the congregation is both holding its breath waiting on a new pastor who will be under the weight of enormous expectations AND they want me to fix everything immediately. I’m overwhelmed and under-supported. I’m not ill-equipped and yet I do need some new skills for this new area of ministry. HELP ME!!!!!!”

I’m so happy for our team to be able to celebrate a SOLD OUT conference and I’m thrilled for my friend, co-laborer, and conference guru–Kami Gilmour. Kami has an amazing heart, a love for people, a deep passion for youth workers, an incredible work-ethic, and a great sense of humor. This conference has been built on her back and I’m so thankful for her and her leadership (she’s an amazing leader).

Are you coming to this year’s SYMC? If so, what are you most excited about?