To reimagine what‘s possible, build this simple habit.
Photo by Burst
I’ve been to more youth ministry conferences and training events than I can count.
I don’t remember much about the hotels I’ve stayed in. Or the food I’ve eaten. Or even all that many details about the talks I’ve heard.
The single greatest impact youth ministry conferences have had on me is through the people I’ve met. Especially when I’ve practiced one simple habit: I introduce myself to whomever I’m sitting by. In seminars, general sessions, at meals—whenever possible—I try to learn a little about the person I’m next to, and let them know a little about me.
I make these introductions not because I’m a leader who schmoozes in order to get ahead. I make these introductions because I’ve often found that the greatest insights and inspiration come not from the speaker up front, but from interactions I have with other leaders looking to learn.
Meeting new people opens doors
Over twenty years ago at a seminar for women in ministry at a national conference, I sat next to Lynne. By starting a conversation, I learned that she lived an hour from me (yes, at a national conference), and like me, she was single. In the years to come, she and I met each other halfway for meals, and eventually took a few short overnight trips together. It was a gift to be just a phone call, email, or hour drive away from someone who understood how much I loved teenagers.
When our church didn’t have enough budget to cover registration so the only way I could attend conferences was as a volunteer, I ended up sitting next to an editor of a youth ministry magazine. After we chatted for ten minutes, he invited me to write my very first 10-sentence review of a youth ministry VHS tape (yes, it was that long ago). It was the first piece I ever wrote that was published.
At another seminar, I introduced myself to someone who eventually told me he was interested in expanding his youth ministry staff team. That led to a whirlwind interview process that ended with me not getting the job. I was disappointed, but I learned volumes about myself and what’s important to me in a ministry job and team.
None of this would have happened if I hadn't gotten on airplanes and hopped in cars to attend gatherings with my tribe. To learn. To pray. To grow. Together.
Your opportunity to reimagine what’s possible
The upcoming Youth Ministry Leadership Exchange that I’m planning with Doug Fields and Reggie Joiner is jam-packed with chances for you to get to know other members of our youth ministry tribe. The teams at FYI, Orange, and DYM are making sure that you have multiple opportunities for divinely orchestrated conversations - in hallways, with the people sitting next to you, over coffee.
We have an amazing lineup of speakers who will sharpen and stretch you. But maybe, just maybe, who you sit next to at lunch might actually change your life more.
Register by November 3rd to receive for FREE:
Lead Small training course
Speaking to Students Intro course
Individual Growing Young Assessment