Marketing and Youth Conferences

I’ve got to share a frustration of mine. I have been working in youth ministry now for about 13 years, so I have been to my fair share of youth conferences. Some I have liked, and some I won’t go back to, but I still think conferences have a valid place in youth ministry. But here is my frustration. Almost every conference will call and pressure youth pastors to bring their youth group. I have had more high-pressure sales pitches thrown at me than I care to count. And most of the time, it is an intern or someone fresh out of school calling me trying to tell me what is best for my kids.

I had a phone call today where the caller actually criticized me for not wanting to drive 8 hours to attend their conference. He said that I should do what is best for the youth group and not worry about money or travel arrangements. First of all, the real world does involve budgets and second, your conference may be good, but it is not the most important part of our youth ministry! RELATIONSHIPS will trump a conference every time. I have attended their conference before and felt that it was good, but a little too much hype and emotionalism. So don’t call me and criticize my leadership for not supporting your paycheck. That my friend is arrogance.

Please, I expect high pressure sales tactics when I deal with secular companies trying to sell me something. But leave the sales pitch out of youth ministry. It is first and foremost about students. I have definitely seen lives changed as a result of going to conferences. But the parents and leaders closest to those students still by far have the greatest impact.

– End of Rant

I do have to give a shout-out where one is due. One conference that has been very professional and low pressure has been the PlanetWisdom conference. They occasionally call, ask if I have any questions, let me know about deadlines, and thank me for my time. That is why I have been to it more than any other. They focus on the Bible and support the local youth pastors. That’s a great combination.


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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2 Responses

  1. MarkM says:

    I got a little worried when I started reading this post 🙂 Then I saw the end .. whew! We definitely try to “help” with our calls rather than see them as sales opportunities.

    One of WisdomWorks’ core values is supporting the local church. I know other parachurches that do everything they can do get around the work of the local church. What a shame.

    If we ever fail to do support your work, please call us out.

  1. June 12, 2008

    Nice blog on youth conference marketing that was kind to

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