How to NOT Have a Good Time at NYWC 2019

November 21st, 2019

I’ve been to about 5,000 ministry conferences. That number may be a bit high. Maybe it’s more like 4,996. Either way, I’ve had some wonderful experiences at these events. And I’ve had some not so wonderful experiences. I’ve also seen people make themselves pretty unhappy at these things. As is always the case, the choice is up to you. 

If, for some reason, you don’t want to be over-the-top happy at this year’s NYWC, you’re in luck. I’ve got 3 tips for you. Follow these and I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t have a good time at the conference.

Tip #1 | Compare, Compare, and Compare

The first tip is to make sure you constantly compare the size of your ministry with the size of other ministries represented at the conference. As a result, one of two things will happen. You’ll either become discouraged because the person you’re talking to has a group the size of New York City, or you’ll become arrogant because your group is 3 times bigger than the other person’s.

Here’s the thing. Discouragement and arrogance are both spiritual illnesses that we can infect ourselves with. And they make us unhappy. So, if you want to give yourself the “spiritual flu” while you’re at NYWC, then focus on numbers. 

Everybody knows that chronic discouragement is no fun. What’s less well known is that, in the long run, arrogance makes people way more miserable. It’s also far more dangerous. It says in Proverbs 16:18 that pride comes before a fall. So be careful out there. Arrogance and pride have taken out people way better than you and me.

Tip #2 | What Happens At NYWC, Stays At NYWC

The next tip on not having a good time at NYWC is to subscribe to the idea that what happens at NYWC stays at NYWC. That’s just not true – unless you’re a sociopath. And if you’re a sociopath . . . well . . . you need to stop reading this blog RIGHT NOW and go turn the keys to the church van over to someone else. 

But if you’re not a sociopath and you want to foul up your time at the conference, then do a bunch of stuff after the evening sessions that you can’t tell you boss about, can’t tell your wife/husband/significant other about, and for sure can’t tell the kids in your student ministry about. This, by the way, is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only will it make you unhappy the next morning, it will continue to plague you with guilt when you get home. It’s a package deal. 

Tip #3 | Don’t Take Any Risks

Finally, if you really want to make your conference experience subpar, then don’t take any risks while you’re there. Don’t talk to any strangers. Don’t approach any of the speakers. Don’t attend any breakouts that will make you uncomfortable. Instead, play it safe. Just hang out with your friends. Stay in your comfort zone. Don’t dwell on anything that may challenge the way you do ministry.

It will make NYWC more boring, less exciting, and less life changing. The trade off is that you will seemingly get to remain in control of your student ministry. Of course, if you keep insisting on being in control, as opposed to trusting God, at some point God will say, “Ok! You wanna be in control? Great! I’ll give you what you want. Let Me know how that works for you. I’m gonna head over to that group that’s 3 times smaller than yours. They know they need My help. See ya later.”

So, have a good time at NYWC this year, unless of course you don’t want to. If that’s the case, you now have 3 tips on how to NOT have a good time. You can thank me later. 


John hales from Ventura, California where he grew up surfing and playing guitar. He graduated second in his class from Pepperdine University and then attended Fuller Theological Seminary. His first call was to Community Presbyterian Church, also in Ventura, where he worked with high school students. He subsequently held positions with Young Life, The American Church in London, Kings College – University of London, and Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently on staff at North Point Community Church’s Buckhead Campus. He serves there as the Director of Staff Development and the Director of Starting Point.

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.