Howdy and welcome back to Beyond the Pew! Today I’m going to talk to you about one of my favorite topics: conferences! I love conferences, I’m a conference junkie, I’ve attended dozens as a teen, I love taking kids to conferences, and I direct conferences for Ablaze. Today’s Beyond the Pew is about how you can talk to your kids and help to keep their faith going after these conference experiences.
There’s a joke about it (that’s not even really a joke anymore because it’s so true) that kids come back with a “conference high” and they’re like “Oh yeah, I’m going to live for Jesus! I’m going to do all these new things!” And that lasts for a week, two weeks, and then after a certain amount of time students start to drift back into wherever they were before the conference. Their faith isn’t where it was or they are having a hard time connecting with their faith. I want to equip you with four things that will help you help your kids to keep their faith alive and not go from conference high to conference high.
1. Apply the talks to their lives at home
When they come back from a conference, ask your teens (or if they won’t tell you, ask their youth minister) what they learned. Ask what they heard! What did the great speakers they brought in for the conference talk about? What were the main points that they can get out of them? Ask how are they going to apply that to their lives. Help them make an action plan from what they learned at the conference. A lot of times you can look online and find the videos of the talks or the audio of the talks and you can watch or listen for yourself. That way, you know yourself what your young people have heard.
2. Check back in with them
Check in with your teens every couple of weeks after the conference and ask them how their commitments are going after the conference. Ask how things are going with their faith. If you are able to do this every couple of weeks, it might prevent this conference high where they can start to normalize the things they have been doing. Be engaged in your faith with them at mass or when you pray together at home! I encourage you to do this with your kids.
3. Get them involved in your parish’s youth ministry
(This might be the most important one.) Get them plugged into a ministry where they can grow throughout the year and not just at the conference. Whether they are involved in the youth group or not, find something that’s going on at the parish for young people. A lot of youth groups, other than their regular youth night, offer some kind of “going deeper” session. Encourage your young people to go to these or if they don’t already, the youth night!
4. Have them follow the speakers and worship leaders on social media
One of the great things about conferences is that the youth get to see all these amazing speakers and worship leaders. If your kids are on social media, I would encourage you to encourage them to follow those speakers and worship leaders on social media so that they can stay connected with them and the conference. They can also be reminded of all the good things that God did at the conference right afterward and down the road.