I know, I know, I'm a little late in the announcement depart. It's been a couple of weeks since my friends over at Group/Simply Youth Ministry announced the return of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference (SYMC). Nonetheless, I wanted to take a few minutes to share a little about what this means!
I was introduced the SYMC in 2009. At the time, I didn't realize how much I needed a conference like SYMC. I had been in student ministry for a long time. And I had attended the National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC) for years. At that point, I was volunteering with NYWC. But that year, SYMC made a huge impact on my heart and my ministry.
I am pretty sold out to NYWC. It was NYWC that really helped me develop, grow, and mature as a youth worker. I've often said that I've learned more attending NYWC than anywhere else. It's why I return every year as a volunteer. But SYMC offered me something different.
I was in a place in my ministry where I began wondering about my role in student ministry. An opportunity had come to that would require that I step away from student ministry. That year at SYMC, I heard God tell me my place was with students. That year, God used SYMC to wreck my world, then rebuilt and reignited a passion for students again! I even have a red a sofa in my office to remind me of the impact.
SYMC boasts, The conference for youth workers by youth workers. This is so true. After the 2009 conference, I found myself working with the "In The Trenches Team" (ITTT or IT3). The "In The Trenches Team" is made up of youth workers; some are full time, some are part time, and some are volunteers, but each one is committed, not just to their students, but to youth workers. It's this teams that comes along side the SYM/Group staff to help talk, dream, pray, prepare, plan, and lead the conference! I was blessed to serve with these amazing men and women for 3 years, helping and serving with the 2010 and 2011 conferences.
There are a number of great conferences that youth workers can attend. But there is something special about SYMC, and I think it's in the fact that youth workers are an integral part of what happens at SYMC.
After taking a couple years off, SYMC is back, and I for one am very excited to see it return. A little smaller, a little more intentional, a little more focused on the heart and health of the youth worker, SYMC will no doubt offer her attendees a weekend of training, resources, and soul care.
SYMC will take place October 7-9, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency O'Hara in Chicago. (Which is a great location due to everything happening in the hotel.)
Now I haven't decided if I will be attend this years conference. If money weren't an issue, I'm sure I'd be there in a heart, no questions asked. But I am still committed to serving at NYWC, so I have yet decided if I will be attending. However, based on what I am hearing it will be a great conference.
Take a few minutes to go and check out the SYMC website. Get to know the conference, and prayerfully consider make SYMC your conference destination this fall!
Jay Higham is a 24 year veteran of student ministry; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently the Youth Director at Hickory Church, located in Western PA. Jay has been married to Amy for 19 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 little girl). Jay is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and sharing with other youth workers. You can learn more about their ministry to the family by visiting their family blog at, www.TheHighamFamily.com!