Recently, I shared a few reasons why I think it’s helpful to take college students to a relevant ministry conference. These events can have a catalytic impact upon the lives of the students and leaders who attend them, but what should you do after the conference? How do you maximize this moment and prevent yourself, your students, and your campus group from slipping back into the status quo? What sort of next-steps (if any) are needed?
As impactful as conference environments can be, I believe it’s not just what happens at the conference that matters, it’s what happens after the conference. I’ve been taking college students to these events for almost fifteen years, and have learned to do four things when the conference is over.[shareable]It’s not just what happens at the conference that matters, it’s what happens after the conference.[/shareable]
1. Testify Together About What God has Done
When taking students to the Every Nation Campus conference, my favorite part of the weekend is always the bus ride home. As you might expect, part of the bus ride is spent with students catching up on homework, napping, or just talking with friends, but we always try to set aside time for students to share testimonies about what God has done in their lives over the conference weekend.
This usually takes at least an hour and a half, and sometimes even longer, as students, one by one, walk to the front of the bus, get on the microphone and share from their heart. These from-the-heart testimonies can be surprisingly transparent and honest.
I have found that these public testimonies also help students to solidify through external communication what has been happening internally, in their soul, during the weekend. By sharing with the group, the student is also opened up to receive the love and encouragement of our campus ministry community. And, of course, everyone else hearing the testimonies get’s encouraged too.
2. Follow Up With Individual Students
When returning from the conference trip you might be tempted to take an epic nap and turn your phone off for the next 72 hours, but that would be a mistake. There are some students in your group who need additional ministry. Things have been shaken in their lives (in a good way), but follow-up is needed to help them process the decisions they’ve made and give them needed encouragement to see it through.
There is one who would love to “steal the seed,” but I want to prevent that from happening (Matthew 13:19). I want to protect and cultivate the work of God in the lives of these students and see them walk in the good purposes of God.
3. Relieve Others
As I mentioned in the previous point, after all this activity it can be tempting to turn into a brain-dead zombie but, particularly if you have a family, it may be that there are others who need a rest even more than you do. Resist the urge to be selfish when you get home tired and take an honest look at those closest to you.
When I returned from our most recent student conference, my wife, who had been watching our two young children while I was out of town, was more than ready for a break. She needed relief! I needed to give her some extended time off from mom-duty. She may be awesome, and seem like superwoman, but she’s not. She needs rest in order to maintain her sanity to serve our family and ministry well. (Collegiate Collective recently posted a helpful article on this topic.)
4. Choose to Rest
Lastly, it’s important to take time to rest yourself. This may be a quiet evening at home, or a whole day off. Whatever you do, just don’t just keep going, running on fumes physically, emotionally and spiritually. You need to rest. There is always something more that you could do, but after all the busyness surrounding a conference trip you need to recuperate.
As a leader, take the time you need to rest so that you can stay healthy and make it through the remainder of the school term.