What youth ministry conferences do you go to each year?

I try to go to at least two conferences each year.  I like to go to a youth ministry conference with my youth leaders, and the other one with my youth ministry friends.  I have in my budget a large amount for youth leader training, and I get a yearly education allowance.

Getting away to learn, grow, and be pushed is one of the best ways I learn.  I also love being able to learn with people who I am doing ministry with, or are doing ministry.  Some of the best conversations I have had about God, faith, and youth ministry have been at conferences with good friends.

Growing as a leader is something that I personally want to build into my ministry plan each year.  I need to always be reading, learning and growing.  I worry about how easily we as youth workers can become stagnant, and apathetic in what we are called to do.  Zig Ziglar has this awesome quote,  “Before a person can achieve the kind of life he wants, he must think, act, walk, talk, and conduct himself in all of his affairs as would the person he wishes to become.”

What is the goal for you each year?  How do you want to develop as a leader?  Who is pouring into you?

If you don’t know any answers to those questions, I would recommend going to a conference this year.  It’s an investment, for you, your church, and your youth ministry.  It’s worth it.

Here are 5 ways to get to a conference this year cheaper than ever: 

1. Book super early.  If you can get the super early bird pricing on a conference you are going to save a ton of money.  To book early, that means you need to have a plan.  Never book conferences last minute.  I try to plan a year out what conferences I want to attend.

2. Book places to stay on VRBO.  This is seriously the cheapest way to stay near a conference.  The thing I love about VRBO is that you either get a condo, or a whole house with a full kitchen!  One of the things I hate about hotels is how you have to eat out every meal.  That will add up after a few days.  Buying a few groceries and making breakfast, and dinner will save you a ton of money.  Plus, you won’t feel like garbage after a few days.

I booked a place for Catalyst West Coast in Los Angeles for $130 a night that sleeps 4-5.  The house is close to the beach, and comes with a parking pass!  If I was going to hotel it, it would have easily be twice the price for two rooms.

3. Use hotwire for car rentals/flights.  Don’t just search once for a cheap flight or car rental.  Set up a deal reminder.  Each day I get a notification in my inbox telling me what the car rental is at for Catalyst.  I have a budget, and then I have a goal.  I usually want a certain amount, and I wait for it, and then buy it.  The best part about hotwire is that you will get notifications if the price is cheaper.

Again, you will have to know what you are doing in advance so that you can set up the reminders, and get the cheapest flights and car rentals.

4. Ask youth pastors to come with you.  This year I am going to Catalyst West Coast.  I didn’t want to go by myself, so I asked some friends to go with me.  Not only does this save a ton of money on things like a place to stay, car rental, but it gives you people to hangout with.  I started to do this three years ago, and I will never go back.  Going with great friends just makes it that much better.

5. Look for promo codes.  The best way to find a promo code is to google the conference.  I google everything for a promo code.  Who knows if there is a promo code for different conferences.  If there is no promo code for a conference, then ask them for one.  I emailed Catalyst West Coast this past year to see if there was a way to get my friends a cheaper deal.  They were stoked that I was interested in sharing what was happening at Catalyst (note: if you are going to Catalyst West Coast use the promo code YMM for a cheaper deal).

There is always a cheaper way to do conferences.  The reality is that you might not know cheaper ways to do things.  I routinely ask friends for advice on how to do conferences and other youth ministry related things.  It’s worth asking seasoned youth ministry veterans for advice.  We are all on the same team!

Those are 5 simple ways that you can save a ton of money each year on conferences.  If you save enough on one, why not hit up two this year?

What conferences do you go to each year and why? Do you try to save money?  

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