youth ministry, youth worker, conference, training

Getting The Most Out of a Youth Ministry Conference

By Doug Franklin September 13, 2010

Having been to lots of youth ministry conferences I started to think about what makes them worth our time and money. For the most part I don’t think youth workers get a lot out of conferences because they are too big and not focused on their real needs. I know they are fun and you do get to connect with others who have the same passion as you but many of these conferences are sold to us as training or coaching events and they are not; they’re often entertainment events. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of a youth ministry conference:

1. Stay away from FREE

I have found that organizations that give free stuff do so because they don’t want you to focus on the quality of the materials or experiences. Sometimes they give free stuff because everyone else is selling the same thing. For example: mission trips to Mexico, there are tons of them available, be cautious of the ones offering free stuff. Look for organizations that believe first in their mission and put that belief to work in the quality of their product. You won’t get as many wacky hats but you will get better experiences and materials for your students.

2. Talk More

Too many conferences think speakers know it all; we don’t. In fact we don’t know the name of one student in your ministry. We don’t know your situation and we don’t know your volunteers. Ask us questions, speak up and get involved in the training process. Sure we might have good ideas but we can help you more if you speak up. Ask presenters to have coffee with you; seek them out and ask for time. Hey, it’s your money…. if you don’t ask you won’t have.

3. Exhibit Hall Strategy

Go through the exhibit hall once to see what’s there. During this first trip through make a list of the people you want to speak with. At slow times in the exhibit go through the hall engaging in long conversations with key people. There is a lot of wisdom in the exhibit hall and you can get lots of it for free. If exhibitors don’t have knowledgable people in their booths, they don’t care about you.

4. Demand More

When the conference asks for an evaluation, take your time and fill it out. It will help you and other youth workers. Be honest and demand more. You are worth it and what you’re doing requires it.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More