Two Youth Ministry Conferences: NYWC vs. NYMC

Topic / Training

NYWC vs NYMCIt’s obviously hard not to compare Group’s National Youth Ministry Conference to Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention, the grand-daddy of youth ministry training. In fact, just in this past week I’ve already received Facebook messages and emails from several of you asking that very question: How do they compare and which one should I go to next year? The answer probably depends mostly on your values and what you’re looking for in a youth leader conference. For example, I personally don’t care for all the marketing that goes on at the NYWC exhibit hall, but I know some people really value having all the vendors together in one spot for resourcing their ministry. Also, some youth workers are looking for training in the wide assortment of topics and issues that are available at NYWC, while others want to go deep in only one area like the NYMC provides. Each conference provides solid youth ministry training, great information, general sessions, workshops and seminars, entertainment, and counselors. The differences mostly lie in their approach and what it is you’re looking for.

One of my sr. high youth leaders went with me to Youth Specialties’ NYWC last October for the first time and now to the NYMC for the first time, also. The video below is a summary our thoughts comparing the pros and cons of each conference.

NOTE: This video is our very first conversation comparing the two conferences and is solely based on our personal preferences and what we were looking for in a conference. Your experience and values may differ and that’s totally okay. I should also disclose that I was a presenter at the NYMC.

NYMC 2009 Highlights

Tom Roepke posted a couple highlight videos of the NYMC from last week:

Brian Ford’s reflections on the NYMC.

Phil Bell’s recap of the NYMC 2009

Rick Warren like you’ve never seen him

If you’ve been to both conferences, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Posted on March 18, 2009

  • Great post Tim… it’s helpful to get perspective on each of them as we plan our fall conference.

  • Dudes,

    Tim, first let me say that I regularly read and appreciate your blog.

    I was left a bit grieved by this video post.

    At least your poorly “veiled” bias was entertaining.

    It may just be my reaction. I no doubt have my own biases. I just think it is disingenuous to pretend that you are trying to be objective. The reality is that both of these forums are very important. I think it is commendable that Group and YS has not, to my knowledge, stooped to this kind of comparisons.

    At least you admitted to the fact that you were a presenter at the NYMC.



  • @Mike: Thanks for your feedback and for taking the time to comment. I really do respect and appreciate your insights. A couple things:

    1. I don’t think I was really trying to be objective as much as I was just just sharing my thoughts and feelings. Any person’s opinion is clearly subjective. In fact, in the video I even say that I was actually looking for something different even before I went to the the NYMC, so clearly that taints my perspective. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the NYWC because I truly do. There’s a reason why I’ve been to about 7 NYWCs! They have truly blessed me and have made a tremendous impact on me and my own ministry. That’s why I kept going back for more! They do an incredible job of serving and blessing youth workers.

    2. I know Group and YS have not made public comparisons, but I don’t see how youth workers such as myself can not help but compare. In fact, as I mentioned in the post, I’ve received several emails and Facebook messages from people asking that very question. I know I definitely asked that question the very first time I even heard of the NYMC (at a NYWC, ironically) — how is it different and where should I invest my limited church budget funds?

    What I tried to do with this post is communicate that they both have value and they both meet different needs. Both are great conferences that are totally worth any youth worker’s time and money. For me personally, the NYMC lines up with my needs and values better than the NYWC, and I shared that here. That doesn’t mean the NYWC has no place — they both definitely do. I promise I still love YS!

  • Great comparison of the two, I know lots of people have been curious as to what each of them are like. I’ve had people ask me the same question.
    I felt like I got to connect with a lot of people at Simply’s and probably because of connections I was able to make before we went. I felt like Simply was more focused on connecting with other youth workers.
    Both conventions have me leaving excited about ministry after the long weekend, I enjoyed getting 8 concentrated hours on a specific topic, but I also ducked out a couple times ’cause I wanted the variety that YS offers more of. I felt like YS had more down time between sessions than Simply, but that could be because of trying to sit in on a couple brown bags a day, wanting to get a touch of other topics on top of my deeper learning sessions I went to.
    Both trainings are great, I did feel like after going to a few NYWCs I wasn’t getting much new, but it was good to get to know Marko and Tic from those times, I felt like they were very approachable. I’m excited to see the direction that YS goes in this next year and how their convention will be affected.

  • Tim,

    I appreciate the review and I also think this post is valuable to the guys at Y.S and SYM. Their heart is to create great conferences and impact students through youthworkers like you and me. I think these kind of perspectives only help and enhance what the conferences are trying to do. These guys and gals need to know what people are saying.

    I hope more people comment on this…

    Personally, I too have been to both, and I do feel that the SYM conference has done a great deal to be connectional. Y.S on the other hand has it’s own flavor and is a great resource to take a team to. However, when all is said and done, my budget goes to Group/SYM. This is what I personally prefer and I will be back in Chicago next year…

    Thanks again Tim!

  • In bringing a team of volunteers, would you recommend one over the other for them? If I have a team of small group leaders, Sunday School teachers, and youth group sponsors, would they get more out of one kind of conference?

    • Umm… if they're relatively new youth workers, either one would be fine. They'll receive a boatload of training at both places. The Simply/Group Conference is more interactive and is more conducive for conversations with other youth workers, but YS is making some major changes this year and next that are somewhat heading in that direction. So, at this point, I'd probably recommend whichever is closer and cheaper for you guys.

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