I enjoy attending conferences for student pastors and youth workers. They are always a great place to meet new friends, be challenged spiritually, be refreshed, and get a ton of free stuff! One of my favorite conferences student ministry conferences is the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Sadly I will not be attending this year. After four years of attending I’m taking a break because let’s face it, conferences take money to get to and be a part of. I hope next year I will be back and hit up other conferences in the near future.
Getting the most out of a conference begins before you even get there. You must prepare well. Since many of my student ministry friends are probably headed to SYMC this coming weekend, here are a few tips I want to share with you. These are a few things I have picked up on by going to SYMC for four years now. Here are a few thoughts on how to prepare for a student ministry conference.
Prepare yourself spiritually. Even though free resources, new friends, and workshops are important, you need to be ready to hear from your Savior and be ready to be challenged personally in your walk with Him. Take some time to pray and ask God to give you opens ears and an open heart to whatever He wants to do with you at the conference.
Bring your best note-writing device. Your going to hear a ton of information at the conference so have something with you to take good notes with. Whatever is your go to gadget for note taking bring it along. Make sure you take whatever device works best for you. If you still take the best notes with a note pad and pen then bring it! It may be an iPad for others. Whatever is it, bring it and be ready to take good notes. Whatever doesn’t get written down will probably be lost after the conference.
Have the right gear. Bring the right gear. Your going to probably doing a lot of walking and receiving some great resources so wear comfortable shoes and have a decent sized bag to pack full of youth ministry goodies. I usually do a book bag that I have throughout the day and then keep some extra suit case space for received resources. Also, make sure to bring things like chargers for your iPad or laptop and simple stuff like that.
Be ready to communicate to your pastor and volunteers what you have learned. This may not be strictly a “pre-conference” thing, but it needs to happen both before and during the conference. Before you get to the conference remember there is probably a pastor and volunteers that are ready to hear what you will learn at the conference. If anything, take good notes so you can pass the knowledge and ideas along to them.
These are just a few thoughts on preparing well for a conference. Conferences are awesome, but to get the most out of them you need to prepare well. Go, have a blast, and come back ready to point your students to Jesus!