Tag Archives: campference

seminars for the 2016 Middle School Ministry Campference

i just finished finalizing the seminars and late nights for this year’s Middle School Ministry Campference. i’ve written this many times, but the Campference is the most fun youth ministry event i’ve ever attended or been a part of. we overlay an amazing weekend of content (great main sessions and seminars) over a retreat vibe, with lots of hang time and conversations and weirdness (in a good way).

AND, the regular registration deadline is almost upon us — just two more weeks. after september 30, the group rate goes away, and the regular rate jumps up another thirty-five bucks. but, heck, the event is October 14 – 16 — so you should be registering before the end of this month anyhow!

here they are — the AMAZING 2016 list of seminars and late nights, presented by some of the most amazing and brilliant young teen ministry experts in the world:

Friday Night

  1. Adam McLane – Understanding Teenagers & Social Media (seminar)
  2. Tom Shefchunas – Double-Dog-DareAthon on Inviting “Outsiders” to Church (dialogue)
  3. Katie Edwards – Walking Middle Schoolers Through Difficult Times (dialogue)
  4. Alan Ramsey – Growing to Love 6th Graders (and Seizing the Opportunity) (seminar)
  5. Matty McCage –Four key investments today’s volunteer requires

Late Night Friday

  • How-To Sharpie Tattoos (Crystal Kirgiss)
  • Let’s Talk Confirmation (Heather Lea Campbell)

Saturday Morning

  1. Kurt Johnston – 7 Sins of Communicating to Young Teens (dialogue)
  2. Heather Flies – Effective Ministry with Middle School Girls (seminar)
  3. Scott Rubin – JH Ministry with HS Ministry in Mind (dialogue)
  4. Kenny & Elle Campbell – Leveraging the Uniqueness of Middle School for Faith Formation (seminar)
  5. Crystal Kirgiss – Developing Talk Series for Middle School Retreats and Camps (active learning)

Saturday Afternoon

  1. Mark Oestreicher & Tom Shefchunas – Pastoring LGBT Teens (and those wondering) (dialogue)
  2. Heather Flies & Crystal Kirgiss – Being a Woman in Youth Ministry (dialogue)
  3. Scott Rubin – Next Steps for New Believers (seminar)
  4. Kenny & Elle Campbell – Our Best Games and How We Play Them (active learning)
  5. Kyle Whitcroft – What Your Middle School Ministry Can Learn from an International Nonprofit (seminar)

Late Night Saturday

  • Multi-Site Youth Ministry (Kurt Johnston & Tom Shefchunas)
  • How-To Tiny Books (Crystal Kirgiss)

Sunday Morning

  1. Adam McLane – Working with Introverted Teens (dialogue)
  2. Kurt Johnston – Leadership: What I Know Now That I Wish I’d Known Then (seminar)
  3. Katie Edwards – Leading & Developing a Team (seminar)
  4. Crystal Kirgiss – 9 Ways to Engage Scripture Directly & Creatively (active learning)
  5. Mike Branton and the CIY Team: Maximizing Ministry Through a JH Intentional Space

12 things i love about middle school ministry

a number of years ago i wrote a post listing reasons why i love middle school ministry. and recently, i re-wrote that post as a column for youthwork magazine (in the UK). here’s my list (realize that “middle school ministry” doesn’t mean anything in the UK, so i use their term “11 – 14s” or young teens instead):

IMG_386712 Things to Love About Young Teen Ministry

  1. Young teen ministry is about shaping. What an opportunity! Everything I learn about young teens continues to affirm and re-affirm that this is not merely a holding period until the good stuff of older teen work.
  2. 11 – 14s are easy to connect with. Years ago, a youth ministry mentor shared this simple observation: 11 – 14s, in their decision as to whether they’ll allow you into their lives, are only asking the question, “Do you like me?” Older teens complicate it more by adding, “Do I like you?” And university students ramp up the complexity by layering on the additional question, “Do I like what you stand for?”
  3. They’re willing to try anything. The young teen years (in a post-puberty parallel to the first few years of life) are all about discovery, or sampling. Young teens, in the earliest stages of self-conscious identity formation, want to try everything. They don’t start testing conclusions until the middle teen years. This is a wild ride of unpredictability, of course, and can feel very scattered and capricious. But there’s willingness—even desire—to try things that makes young teens prime for creative and participatory youth work.
  4. The wonder of abstract thinking. 11 – 14s are far from experienced with abstract thought. But the capacity is there (I like to think of it as God’s puberty gift). And they’re dipping their toes in the water, checking it out.
  5. The process of doubts and faith development. Tied to the development of abstract thinking, young teens are on the leading edge of stumbling onto doubts about their faith. This is a critical aspect of faith development, and should never be shamed or shut down. Wrestling with complexities is the necessary detour from childlike, inherited faith to a more robust, owned faith.
  6. They’re unpredictable. Maybe you find this frustrating, but I love it. Young teens regularly and consistently surprise me. They surprise me with their random questions. They surprise me with their hidden talents. They surprise me with their insight. They surprise me with their interpretations (often different than I expect). The unpredictability of 11 – 14s keeps young teen ministry fresh and untamed.
  7. Parents are still involved. Sure, there are plenty of older teens with involved parents. But there’s a drop-off in parent involvement throughout the teen years, as many parents retreat out of fear, exasperation, or a misguided understanding of what it means to give their teenagers independence. We know that parents have a significantly larger shaping role in the lives and faith of their teenagers than we do; so this higher level of parent involvement creates an easier path to coming alongside parents, partnering for greater impact.
  8. They have more time than older teenagers. Yes, young teens are busier than ever; but they still have more time and availability than their older peers. Mix this in with their #3 above (their willingness to try anything), and you’ve got a potent pot of “let’s do stuff!”
  9. Most are not yet jaded. 14 year-olds can start to get a little jaded (some of ‘em). Older teenagers—holy cow—can wear cynicism and “been there, done that” as comfortably as Lady Gaga wears a meat suit. But most young teens possess wonderfully low levels of cynicism, and a naiveté that looks a lot like hope.
  10. They’re passionate. I love the “all in” attitude of most 11 – 14s. It’s not only their willingness to try things (mentioned in #3 above); they’re also passionate about the things they try, the opinions they voice, the beliefs they hold. The funny thing is: they’re passionate about things that, often, they won’t be passionate about in two months or two years.
  11. They’re forgiving. When you mess up, or have an off night in your teaching, or plan a lame event, or say something dumb, young teens are quick to forgive (particularly if you ask for it). The travel time back to normal (whatever that is!) is extremely short.
  12. They’re fun! Young teens keep me feeling young (not so easy at 50 years-old). They’re playful and hilarious, goofy and unselfconscious. Young teens remind me, regularly, of what a joy-filled life should look like.

if you agree with me on at least most of these, then you need to join us at the third annual Middle School Ministry Campference. the earlybird registration price (and $50 bonus back of free stuff and campference munchies) runs out in two weeks, on june 30!

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Join us at the 2014 Middle School Ministry Campference!

my-tribe-square– Customized learning about Middle School Ministry.
– Conversations with people who understand you.
– Rubbing shoulders with JH Ministry vets and experts.
– Worship.
– Laughter.
– Dialogue.
– Ziplines and skeet shooting and nature and camp food and silliness and lip syncing and late night secret sharing and rest.

What’s the only place you can experience every single one of those in one weekend? The Middle School Ministry Campference, of course. Come join with your tribe.

Here’s what a few of last year’s attendees had to say:

The MSMC is like getting one-on-one training focused on Middle School Ministry all day long. From the speakers on stage to the person sitting next to you, every person brings it at the MSMC. Every time you start a conversation you know it could be the best one of the weekend.

It’s unlike any other youth ministry conference. Not only do you get great content, but the laid back camp atmosphere creates a great environment for building relationships with other middle school youth workers.

Middle School Ministry Campference isn’t about all the hype and pizzazz of other conferences. It’s about being together with the strange creatures that Middle School Pastors are. It’s not about showing you creative things; it’s about inspiring creativity in all of us. The connections that you make here are 1000x better and more useful than the handful of notes you’ll take anywhere else and never look at again. If I had the choice between Campference and any other conference, I’d choose this every time.

The Campference site is now live, and registration is open! We work hard to keep our all-inclusive rates crazy-low. And thanks to our partners, we’re able to offer Early Bird registration, including LODGING AND ALL MEALS at these great rates:

  • $320 – Early Bird Single Registration (register by June 30, 2014)
  • $295 – Early Bird Group Rate, per person (groups of 3 or more, register by June 30, 2014)

As added Early Bird perks, we’re throwing in more than $50 of extra goodies, FREE:

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spend your budget!

wow — the fact that it’s only days from christmas doesn’t seem weird to me; but the fact that 2013 is days from ending, that’s wild to me (as it always is).

cartel storefront imageif you work in a church, this might not be the end of a budget cycle. but so many youth workers i know are in the final days of a 2013 church budget. and if that’s you, and you have a tiny stash o’ funds left, i’d like to suggest two good uses, all of which are also time-sensitive:

1. FREE SHIPPING in The Youth Cartel store on all orders of $25 or more, for the continental U.S., through tuesday, december 24 (christmas eve!). this is your chance for a win/win. we have way too much product in our “warehouse” (the shelves in adam’s garage). and, of course, you get the double-win of our awesome products AND free shipping. we’re seeing people use this opportunity to do a couple things:

  • place bulk orders on a single product (remember, any order of 20 or more copies of a single product gets a 35% discount anyhow!). yesterday, someone bought 20 copies of the “Parent Pack of Awesomeness” (all five books in the Parents Guide series). and someone else bought 40 copies of the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers, clearly getting ready for a retreat or a small group series or something.
  • or, quite a few have just used this to stock up on resources they’ve wondered about, but hadn’t gotten yet. i’m seeing lots of orders with 5 or 6 different titles, just 1 or 2 copies of each.

you don’t need a coupon or code for this deal. just have more than twenty-five bucks in your cart, and a continental U.S. address, and the shipping will automatically get cut. easy peasy, sugar-plum squeezy.

2. Event deposits. we’re offering the very best deal you can ever get on pre-registrations for our two national events, the Middle School Ministry Campference, and The Summit. in both cases, a $25 non-refundable, but fully transferable deposit now (before 2013 ends!), locks in the lowest rate, and we’ll invoice you for the balance at the end of next summer.

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  • the Middle School Ministry Campference (here’s last year’s website) is a weekend-long tribal gathering for people who work with young teens. you learn a ton, but you’ll also have more fun and build more ministry friendships than any other youth ministry event you’ve ever attended (i am not exaggerating). the event is at SpringHill Camp in seymour, indiana (hour south of indy, hour north of louisville), october 10-12, 2014. and with this special pre-registration, you lock in an all-inclusive rate (really, accommodations and food included!) of $259 per person.

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  • The Summit (last year’s website) is like TED for youth workers, carefully crafted to spark your imagination and get you thinking in new ways. of this year’s event, Christy B wrote “The Summit left my mind full of new ideas to connect with my students and ways to engage them in their spiritual lives. Can’t wait for next year!” we’re moving the event to nashville for 2014. november 7 and 8. and with this special pre-registration, you lock in an almost absurd rate of $109! (seriously, that’s cheap)

 

both of those pre-reg deals end the second before ryan seacrest says “happy new year!”

the Campference after-buzz (with photos!)

our third annual Middle School Ministry Campference was this past weekend. and it just doesn’t do it justice to say that it was a blast. there’s something so completely unique about this event and the vibe we share that makes it very, very different than other youth ministry events (even the good ones!).

as i told the group in my “camp rules” during the first session, those who have been before know that the really great breakouts and seminars and main sessions aren’t the best thing about the event. even though they’re really great, lots of youth ministry events have great breakouts and seminars and main sessions. the best part of campference is doing life together with 100+ people who love middle schoolers. it’s the long conversations around meals. it’s the laughter during breaks. it’s the 30 people running into buffalo wild wings. it’s the group of people making s’mores around the fire pit while another group are screaming their heads off on nighttime zipline runs. it’s speakers who are player/coaches, present the entire weekend and more accessible than anywhere else. it’s the slight irreverence. it’s the lack of a “plane” between “the stage” and “the audience.” it’s praying for one another.

here’s a little sampling of photos from my iphone (adam will have much more lovely photos from his good camera):

springhill camp in seymour is a very different setting for a youth ministry event, for starters. and this sort of view sure doesn’t hurt set the tone.
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kurt johnston and katie edwards were our main session emcees for the 2nd year in a row, and are just such a blast.
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a week out, we scrambled to organize a lip-sync competition. and it was a total win. 10 competitors gave us loads of laughs.
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this moment, saturday night during free time (really, the whole event is free time!) captured some of the essence of this event for me. at one table, kenny & elle campbell were leading a discussion about marriage & ministry; and at the next table, there was a texas hold ’em game getting going.
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each year we invite two keynote speakers who are a little outside the middle school ministry tribe. this year those were dave rahn and amanda drury. both were uh-maze-ing, not just in their main session talks, but in the way they were present to people all weekend long. mandy talked about the role of doubt in her main session talk, and this moment was brilliant. she used the balloons to represent doubts, and the bowling ball to represent faith. she summarized with “one grain of faith is more powerful than all the doubts in the world.”
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the campference is also about relationships and friendships, new and old. this is me with tim mauriello. tim is a 40-something middle school pastor in indiana. AND, he was a junior higher in my first church!
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a peek into Kurt Johnston’s morning devotions

love this little video of kurt talking about this crazy little event called the Middle School Ministry Campference. kurt helped me dream it up, and was my original sounding board when my dream of the event was just a scattered mess of vision and impulse.

and, in this video, you will catch a glimpse of the quality biblical materials kurt uses for his own devotional life.

the Campference start FIVE WEEKS FROM TODAY! this year we’re adding some awesome new speakers, and some sweet new conversation options, and a bunch of other goodies. (oh, and this week the camp approved our crazy idea of a combo zipline and paintball game during free time. they didn’t go for the combo zipline and skeet shooting, though.) but the best thing about the Campference remains the same — hanging with the middle school ministry tribe.

holy cow. it’s gonna be a blast.

HOW TO SAVE $30

message-from-lenny

Hi. I’m Lenny, Marko & Adam’s summer intern. I figured I’d be making coffee and copies, turns out I have to wear this stupid dinosaur costume to work every day.

But it’ll be worth it, I’m sure.

Anyway, Marko and Adam wanted me to tell you that this Sunday is the early bird deadline for the Middle School Ministry Campference. Apparently, doing that will save you $30 per person. And that’s a lot of money in my world considering I’m living in a tent in Adam’s backyard and Marko is only paying me $50 for the whole summer.

It’ll be worth it, I’m sure.

Sincerely,

Lenny the intern