5 Things I Love About The National Youth Workers Convention

Doug Fields
August 13th, 2019

Last week Shef wrote about the 5 things he learned from leading his first youth ministry convention and I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d follow with a similar idea.

Unlike my buddy Shef, I think I’ve been to at least 35 of the 49 National Youth Workers Conventions… and they’re definitely my youth ministry highpoint of my year. Truthfully, there’s way more than five highlights—I love it all—the friends, connections, learnings, fun, laughter, late-nights, new ideas, camaraderie, the Big Room, the swag… the list goes on. But, here are my top 5 favs.

The Scramble

I love how youth workers scramble to figure out how to get there every year. Even when budgets disappear, youth workers make NYWC a priority. We are low-budget people who figure things out. I remember the first few years in my 20’s having zero money and finding every deal I could for food and lodging. My friend Todd and I went to the fancy hotels and walked the hallways hoping people would set out their uneaten food (oh, yes we did). To this day youth workers still scramble to ride-share, room-share, sleep on floors, and go all day on the one free breakfast that the hotel serves. I really do love this about our tribe—we figure things out financially. I hope the scramble applies to you this year if you’re thinking you may not be able to afford attending… I know you can make it happen!


Cathy and I have been married for 34 years and we love talking about youth ministry and marriage. For at least a decade we’ve been teaching a Thursday pre-conference Deep Dive on marriage. I love it when married youth workers get to bring their spouse! I also love it when Cathy does a session on being married to a youth worker and spouses are able to feel like they’re not alone with all they go thru in being married to a youth worker. This year I’ll be bringing one of my adult children to co-teach on Raising Kids in Ministry. I’m all about family and love it when I see glimpses of couples learning how to do youth ministry together. 

The Exhibit Hall

I love roaming thru and seeing the 150 organizations and how they exist to serve our community. The variety is mind-blowing and it has become an impetus for ideas. It’s hard to walk thru the exhibit hall and not have your creativity ignited. And, talk about the free swag and snacks—if you’re strategic (see #1/The Scramble) you can eat an entire meal just sampling what the exhibitors layout to get you to visit their booth (it’s kinda like Halloween). 

The Minds

Youth Specialties continues to deliver a who’s who of experienced youth ministry professionals who know what they’re doing. These are the people who write the youth ministry textbooks, lead massive youth ministry organizations, and who have stayed in the local church for decades and offer a invaluable perspective. And the great thing is that most of these scholars, leaders, and practitioners hang-out and answer questions beyond their teaching requirement. It’s pretty amazing! 

The Fun

NYWC is just plain fun! From the laughter of the Comedy Night (optional/night before), to the Big Room with the Skit Guys, to the antics that happen when goofy youth workers gather, to the intentional humor throughout the programming… it’s rich. I find that our tribe enjoys laughing and the NYWC seems to bring out the fun in so many. It’s both healing and refreshing and I’m excited to be back and laughing and enjoying our tribe with you.

I hope you’ll do what it takes to join us this year in Tampa. The convention center and surrounding area are incredible and who doesn’t love a little warm weather in November? Sign up soon before the price goes up otherwise you’ll have to scramble some more. 

There’s my 5… what about yours?

Doug Fields

Doug Fields is a 30+ year veteran youth pastor. He is also the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com, a teaching pastor at Mariners Church, an Orange-consultant, part of the HomeWord Center for Youth/Family at Azusa Pacific University, and the author of more than 50 youth ministry & marriage books. More information about Doug is available at www.dougfields.com.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.