Like many (over 3,000) of my youth ministry cohorts, I spent last weekend at the SYMC conference in Chicago. Because I flew in late on Monday night, and spent Tuesday and Wednesday in back-to-back full day meetings at church, I am just now taking a few minutes to reflect on my time at SYMC. Here’s a partial, and random, list of things I love about getting away to conferences occassionaly.
I See Old Friends: The youth ministry world truly is a fraternity (a trendy word right now is “tribe”…which I totally don’t get), and anual conferences like SYMC serve as a sort of annual reunion. There are a whole lot of men and women whom I consider friends that I rarely get the joy of spending time with. Conferences ensure that I reconnect with my “Tribal Fraternity” at least once a year.
– I Meet Wonderful People: Every year at SYMC, I meet a whole bunch of new people…from all sorts of ministry demographics. An example from this year would be Scott, a middle-aged junior high youth pastor at a very small, rural(ish) church. Scott sat on a panel I moderated and had some AMAZING input to share from his ministry context. Scott pops out as just one of dozens upon dozens (maybe hundreds upon hundreds!) of new people I had the joy of interacting with this year.
– I Hear Stuff I Disagree With: If everything at a conference was stuff I already know, or easily agree with….why would I want to go? I love the diversity of thinking, theology, methodology etc. that is evident at conferences like SYMC. It stretches my thinking, challenges my assumptions and forces me to “new places”.
– I Get Time Alone: Okay…it didn’t happen this year because I literally taught all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as moderated a couple of panel discussions. Add that to lunch, dinner and movie dates with youth workers and this year proved to be fairly chaotic. But NORMALLY I enjoy the habit of ditching a session or two to escape all by myself to walk around the city, take in a movie, journal, etc.
I worked hard all week last week, had an incredibly busy weekend at SYMC and then spent two grueling days in executive team meetings. Tomorrow I rest.