News flash! We’re in a global pandemic! Okay, maybe you already knew that. And I think I did too, but in many ways, I’m just now realizing many of the ways it has affected me. I was going strong for a while, and I felt really excited about the future of ministry, but then I suddenly felt tired and drained.

Thankfully, Download Youth Ministry brought back their DYM100 event. This small and intimate conference is one I have attended before. In fact, I’ve been going since they began doing them periodically in 2016.

This year was different, though. Remember: We’ve been in a global pandemic. And the ministry world has been hit hard. I know many of my friends who stopped working in ministry during this time, and most of the ones who are left are also very tired. Some are on the verge of burnout and giving up. It was sobering to read the comments from many of the DYM100 attendees just before we started last week.

And then, after just three days of rest, teaching, discussion, prayer, fun, and encouragement, we were ready to get back on our feet and conquer the next hill for God. It’s amazing what that time did for us. I mean, most of us in student ministry know the power of a camp or retreat, as we plan them for our teenagers all the time. But to get to experience it ourselves, especially in the current state of our world, was amazingly refreshing and energizing.

Over the course of those three days, we were incredibly blessed with gifts, surprises, and amazing speakers.

  • Matt Brown kicked it off with a talk about the enneagram and the importance of knowing who God has created us to be.
  • Beth Ganem gave us some practical and pastoral tips for being better ministers.
  • Gregory Coles, Mark Ostreicher, and Sean McDowell all spoke on how to better minister to LGTBQIA2S+ teens.
  • Jessica Sanchez shared some tips on working with volunteers.
  • Rob and Kristin Pelinka talked about handling criticism.
  • Alan Fadling guided us in an unhurried life focused on Jesus rather than anxiety.
  • Katie Edwards provided some tips on partnering with parents.
  • Eric Geiger helped us identify some areas to avoid so we don’t drift in our lives or ministries.
  • Jim Burns wrapped it up with an inspirational talk on finishing well.

On top of all this, we also got to worship through song one morning with legendary worship leader, Matt Redman. And we had the amazing privilege of being the first group to screen the upcoming movie, American Underdog, which releases in theaters this Christmas.

I’m still processing a lot of what happened and what I heard at DYM100, but currently, I have 4 big takeaways: 

  1. Become so devoted to Jesus and learning His voice that I know exactly when he speaks and gives direction and vision.
  2. Be a borderline obnoxious (but kind) promoter of student ministry (what we have done and what we could do) within our church. 
  3. Begin decluttering so that my life centers solely around what God wants for me and be completely content in that.
  4. Take further steps in promoting others, pushing them into the spotlight, and encouraging them to achieve what God has in store for them.

I’d also like to share a huge thank you to Doug Fields, Josh Griffin, and the entire DYM team. Also thanks to Mariners Church for hosting us, going above and beyond in so many ways. If any of you reading this get the opportunity to attend a DYM event in the future, be sure to sign up!

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