As I get closer to attending the National Youth Workers Convention in Cincinnati, OH, I thought I would share a few tips for getting the most out of the convention. These are tips I have used and benefited from in the past and/or things I want to do this year. (These tips can also apply to other conventions and seminars, too – well all but #9)
9 Things You Have to do at NYWC
1. Filter out the noise
There will be a lot going on. Most of it will be good and most of it could be beneficial to you. BUT if you want to hear God’s voice, you’ll have to filter out all of the other noise. You might need to avoid going to the store, the hall of booths, a class or the main sessions. Do not allow the busyness (business side of ministry) to grab your attention.
2. Know what you are looking for
This goes for resources and for the overall convention. You will want to know what types of resources (books, curriculum, tech support…) your ministry needs and stick to those items. Do not venture off into buying stuff you do not need. Also, you should know what you need to take home spiritually. If you are feeling drained, you need to spend time getting refreshed and recharged. If you need some fresh ideas, you should talk to as many people as you can about ministry. If you need some rest, you should do whatever you can to get it.
3. Talk with a convention pastor or counselor
YS provides pastors and counselors free of charge. Did you catch that, you DO NOT have to pay to talk to someone about your ministry or yourself. These pastors/counselors want to help you gain some understanding and leave a healthier person – take advantage of this opportunity.
4. Listen with an open heart and mind
You will encounter more opinions than you thought possible. You will hear differing viewpoints and beliefs. But do not tune anyone out. Listen to what they have to say with an open mind and heart. Listen without preparing your arguments. Listen. And then think about what they said.
5. Do not be conformed by the schedule
You do not have to go to everything on the schedule! (reread that sentence) The schedule is provided so you have options, not to cause stress when you can’t make it to everything. When you arrive and register, sit down and look at the entire schedule. Decide what you really want/need to attend. Then allow yourself the freedom to “miss” the rest of the stuff. Make your own schedule and allow the convention to be beneficial, not burdensome.
6. Get rest
You worked hard so that you could be gone for this Sunday. When you get back, you will work hard trying to make sure everything is ready for the next weekend. So during these 5 days, relax. Find – no take time to rest! Your bodies needs it. Your mind needs it. Your soul needs it. You will feel more relaxed and refreshed when you leave, if you take the time to get some rest while you are at the convention.
7. Do something out of the ordinary
How many times each year do you get a chance to experience new things? At this convention, you should take advantage of the opportunity. If you usually go to bed early, attend a late night session. If you usually sleep in, get up early and meet another youth worker for breakfast. Attend one of the prayer services. Go to the labyrinth. Sit down next to someone you have never met and start a conversation. Yell down the hallway. Skip down the street. Whatever you do, find someway to get out of your comfort zone and do something new.
*You need to participate in the Open Space Saturday. It is new for everyone (its the first year YS has done it, so LA is the only experience anyone has had with it), but I have heard only positive comments from people who were a part of it in LA. You would benefit from carving out some time to take part*
8. Find a new friend
At a convention for youth workers, you already have a point of common interest. Early in the convention make a new friend. Then make it a point to connect with this new friend multiple times during the convention. This way, you will go home with a new friend and someone whom you can talk to about youth ministry when you need an ear or an idea.
9. Meet Mike in person by finding him in the YS Store and striking up a conversation. (Free “high five” if you mention this blog post)
This one is rather self-explanatory. If you are coming to the NYWC in Cincinnati, I would love to meet you. Leave a comment and let me know you are going or just say “hi” at the convention. Either way, I would love to meet another youth worker with a passion for reaching students with the message of God’s love.
What do you do to get the most out of a convention?