Four years ago I attended the Student Leadership University(SLU) Youth Pastor Summit(YPS) with the youth pastor from my home church. I was on spring break during my freshman year of college, and it was a free event in Orlando, so why not go? Three months later I was working for SLU. Four years later, I am a full-time SLU employee.
This year was my first time working YPS. Day 1 had 5 speakers, with the venue being Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios. Hard Rock Live is possibly one of the coolest venues in the country, if not the world. It was amazing to hear the gospel preached to nearly 2,000 student pastors in that place. Day 2 consisted of a variety of breakout sessions in the morning, and a big session after lunch.
Overall it was a great experience for me personally. Each day started at around 6:30 at each venue. The sun isn’t up that early, which is not encouraging. I learned a lot over the course of the two days. Everything I learned can pretty much be summed up into 4 areas:
Challenged and encouraged through the speakers YPS involves a wide variety of topics from a wide variety of speakers. I wasn’t able to catch every session because of the role I played in the event. The sessions I did hear were truly amazing. It was a great experience to hear challenging and convicting messages from the speakers. It was refreshing to hear a common theme; that theme being the need for the Gospel in student ministry today.
Gather new information and learn of new tools As you may have figured out, I’m a bit of a nerd. I like gizmos, gadgets, and new ways of doing things. I had several conversations with folks older and much wiser than me during the conference. Several conversations were times to swap information and learn of new ways of doing things. I spoke with several people in student ministry who have a hunger to learn, who are always eager to try something new that may help them be better at what they do. I walked away with several tools and new tools to try and implement in my own journey.
Establish new relationships A setting like this brings together a lot of people. When you work for an organization like SLU, you meet a lot of people. The nature of the job requires that you interact with a lot of people. I had the opportunity to meet magician Drew Worsham(funny guy with great tricks and a gospel mindset), Carl Moeller(U.S. president of Open Doors), staff from Open Doors, individuals I will be working with for our summer program, and a long list of other people. It was encouraging to meet and interact with fellow believers from different places who share the same goal of sharing the gospel to students. And it’s always fun to meet new people, right?
Spend time with people I already knew This was possibly my favorite part of the whole experience. I spent time with my old youth pastor and his wife, youth pastors and wives from my home area in Alabama, and some SLU partners, like Chris Finchum and Mike Calhoun from Word of Life, Scott Hoefert from Big Finish Media, Scott Ahern from Open Doors, and Kevin White and Felix Mathew from 24/7 Ministries. Having worked with SLU for 4 summers, I have met a lot of student pastors, so I had the opportunity to spend a few moments with a long list of incredibly godly men who have a great heart for student ministry. It was refreshing and encouraging to be around so many godly people who have a passion and focus for the gospel.
At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships. Relationships are a key part of the Christian life. YPS was a great time to spend a brief time with many man and women that I greatly respect and establish new relationships. I’m already excited about next year. If you weren’t able to attend this year, I encourage you to join us in 2011. If you love Jesus you’ll come.