“This is my 3rd year attending the conference. This has got to be my favorite year attending. God spoke to me in so many ways, prophetically through others, through the messages and in worship.” - Leslie. The Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI) is “a national non-profit organization that trains & resources urban youth workers to effectively evangelize and disciple youth in at-risk cities throughout the US.” UYWI’s mission is “to power the urban youth worker so that urban youth have the leaders and role models they need to live transformed lives by the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and they hope to touch the lives of 75,000 youth through the discipleship of their local youth workers by 2020. Every year UYWI hosts a conference and invite youth workers near and far to attend. This year, a few of our program staff and volunteers attended the conference. Our staff members, Leslie and Jordan, spoke about their experience:
Leslie; Bible Club Program Manager
1) Why did you decide to attend the conference? I use this time as a time of refreshing, renewing and some much, needed rest. Hearing from the Lord through his many servants through the general sessions and workshops. I believe that we need to be constantly learning on a daily basis and I use this time at the conference for that.
2) Was there anything you learned that surprised you? Not so much a surprise but a great reminder of how important and how crucial our ministries are.
3) Was there anything you learned that validated a way in which you already approach youth ministry? I attended a workshop called ACE's and Trauma Informed Ministry. The speaker spoke about re-traumatization and the importance for youth workers to know that youth are going through trauma in their lives and to provide a place of safety, trust and respect and not a place where kids are put through the same trauma they've experienced before.
4) What is your main takeaway from the conference that you feel you can apply to your own programs? My main take away would be self-care and the importance of Rest. God says in Matthew 11:28-30; 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.' Many are burned out and tired due to no rest. If God rested, then who are we not to also receive that same rest. We continuously pour out into our ministries but need to realize that we need to take time to Recognize, Refuel, Reach Out, Re-evaluate, Receive and be Refilled. 5 R's for Rest in God. Also, we must consider that if we need rest so do the youth that we serve. Imagine what their day has been like and give that the space and time to also rest in God. (Come and Enter into the REST of God by Pastor Geneva Miller)
5) Would you recommend this conference to others in youth ministry? If you what would you say? I would recommend this conference to everyone not just to people who work with Youth. Parents, grandparents, and people who have kids could totally benefit from this conference.
Jordan; Streetworkz Program Manager
This is my 3rd time at UYWI. I'm grateful that BCM gives us the opportunity to attend each year.
I always find it encouraging to be in a room filled with people from all over the country doing the same kind of work, facing the same kind of challenges, and feeling the same joy and pain that is part of the work that we do. Worshipping and learning with a group like that gives me hope.
There are always great speakers, workshops and resources. I appreciate that the workshops are very relevant to the lives and challenges of my students, or my own life and questions as a program manager in ministry. The conference is also filled with testimonies of people who have been doing this work for much longer than I have, which is always encouraging and inspiring.
Listening to so many veteran youth workers allows me to find new perspective. I feel validated both in my approach–prioritizing relationships with students and focusing on creating a loving, caring environment for them—as well as in the tensions, frustrations and difficulties that arise. And of course, there are always fresh ideas and tools to bring back to my own program.