Early. In my years going to youth ministry conferences, Here are my tips.
1) Get plenty of rest. The sack chairs are there to be used. Use them. [Bonus points to the person who pulls off a power nap on the “Big Red Couch” without being filmed]
2) Don’t try to do everything. YS did an amazing thing several years ago when they printed fictional workshops in the schedule that were so over the top, that you knew they were fake. They explained that they were there to help you think about not trying to “fill a slot” at every scheduled moment of the conference. If anyone asks, or needs to know, feel free to tell them you were at the Rural Ministry Connect Group 🙂
3) Meet new people. Find out about them, their ministry, and network. I don’t mean in a shallow, “sizing each other up” kind of way. I mean connecting with fellow youth workers that are striving to impact a generation. You never know who you will meet. Never be afraid to talk to someone. There are no “Green Room Divas” or “VIPS” at SYMC.
4) Resist the temptation of “Ministry Porn“. I am not talking about the pay-per-views in the hotel (those are bad too…). What I am talking about is the fact that when you get back to your church after SYMC, it will look different. The guy on stage or in your pulpit will not speak like a Scott Rubin, or a Jon Acuff, nor will you have a worship band that sounds even remotely like Shane and Shane. And that is totally OK. SYMC is a conference that is planned for a couple years in advance. It is not the week to week grind that you see in your small (or not so small church), with all the warts and wrinkles we all know are there. Don’t spend the weekend wishing for a different church to come back to. Spend the weekend recharging to come back and love the church you have.
What are your #SYMC Tips? Share them in the comment area below.