So this is my first official post of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2010 (SYMC2010), here in Chicago. Let me start off with a few first impressions.
Simple. Basic. Uncluttered.
There is no doubt, this is a conference not focused on numbers and mass appeal. While 2500 is a sizable group, I don’t feel like one of many fish in the sea. There is an atmosphere of intimacy and community here. There is no grand exhibit hall, just a few tables with with info and materials from support ministries. Interlic, one of my favorites is here, but that’s really it. The book store is smaller, but filled with the new titles from Simply Youth Ministry and Group Publishing.
Sack Chairs, from www.simplysackchairs.com, are everywhere; encouraging you to stop take a seat and relax for a while. By the way, I sat in one. AWESOME!! I just need to find the $200 to buy one.
The overall conference is set up to provide youth workers with the opportunity for deep training, such as the 8 hour tracks that focus specifically on a topic for the entire weekend. Or you can take 4 hour track, or a “heart-to-heart” group. These, along with Infinity Groups are less intense and more focused on conversation and connecting with other youth workers. And of course, the flexibility to jump around is here for you as well. Sit in one a 2 hour track, then jump to a shorter track, then to and Infinity Group, the to a heart to heart. It’s really all about what you need for your ministry.
There will be 6 general sessions filled with fun, laughter, worship, drama, teaching/preaching, encouragement, and the antics of Josh and Jake. As tonight’s first session got rolling, I felt that it was fairly reminiscent of the old YS NYWC, when Yac was still around. There was much love and support, and give-a-ways! I love when youth workers are honored for the, “above and beyond”. Tonight, one such youth worker was given one of everything, and I mean everything, printed, created, and sold by Group and Simply Youth Ministry. Not too long ago, his church was torched by an arsonist. He lost everything he had in his office. The good guys need to be recognized and honored whenever possible. It was great to see SYMC love on a youth worker.
Doug welcomed everyone and expressed his desire for this weekend to be one of rest, learning, and connection. The speakers and presenters are here for conversation. This is true. With a smaller conference, the opportunity of one on one time is greater. That is always a blessing.
I am excited about this weekend. I am excited about what God is going to do, not just in my life and ministry; but in the lives of the 2500 crazy youth workers that are running around the hotel. Doug has a tremendous heart for the youth worker, and it shows in the structure and design of the conference. It’s his love for us and what we do that challenges me to be a better youth pastor and a mentor for the next “generation” of youth worker.
I am impressed, encouraged, and really looking forward to the rest of the weekend. I will do my best to keep you up to date with my experiences, thoughts, and happenings. Keep checking in. Subscribe and get emails as the posts go live. And follow me on www.twitter.com/jayhigham for play by play and other fun observations! And you can view the general session live at: http://www.symclive.com/