David and I were privileged to spend the weekend in Columbus, Ohio at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference (SYMC). SYMC is a “conference for youth workers by youth workers,” and this year’s gathering drew over 2,100 attendees. The weekend was equal parts refreshing and educational, so kudos to the SYMC team for pulling off the perfect balance. Every aspect of the conference was excellent – it was well-promoted, well-organized, and well-executed.
We were fortunate to hear from ministry leaders around the country as they spoke on a variety of topics related to serving youth within a church context. Below are some of the insights that have continued resonating in my mind since coming home:
- “The one direction we’re supposed to grow in life is downward into Jesus.” –Ken Castor
- We are called to the “long and boring work of everyday faithfulness.” –Gary Haugen
- “Writers who write things are people who stick to sticking to things.” –Brooklyn Lindsey
- “Don’t be over-conferenced and under-Jesus-ed.” –Derwin Gray
- “Don’t let [the Bible] go out of you until it’s gone through you.” –Andy Blanks
- “Purity isn’t a diet; it’s the dessert table.” –Tim and Tasha Levert
I could continue. What impacted me most, though, was the one common thread running through the general sessions, workshops, and peer panels: the greatest gift I can give anyone – David, family members, friends, students, etc. – is to love Jesus myself. The most influential thing I can do, the most significant investment I can make, is to have my own personal relationship with Jesus (founded on and sustained by His finished work) – not so that I can give Him away, but because I desperately need Him myself.
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity we had to learn from those who have gone before us. May the influence of SYMC and its partners continue to multiply for the glory of God and the good of His people.