Student Leadership Conference 20182017-10-30T18:03:53+00:00

At the Student Leadership Conference we encourage students not to wait until they are adults to go after what God is laying on their hearts.

Through hands-on leadership experiences, inspirational speakers, impactful worship and peer discussion, students are empowered to dream and plan for immediate leadership impact in their churches, schools, communities and beyond! For youth workers attending… we know what it’s like to be “in the trenches” of every day ministry and never want a youth worker to do ministry alone. We hope that the Student Leadership Conference is a catalyst for strengthening your existing student leaders or beginning a student leadership focus in your youth ministry.


JUNE 26-28

Azusa Pacific University
East Campus – Turner Center
901 E. Alosta Ave.
Azusa, CA 91702-7000

Register SoCal

JULY 10-12

Granger Community Church
630 E. University Drive
Granger, IN 46530

Register MidWest

JULY 13-15

Cross Pointe Church
1800 Satellite Blvd.
Duluth, GA 30097

Register East



  • May 20 – Walk-Up
  • Student – $179
  • Adult Leader – $149


Day One

6:30 – 8:30pm General Session #1
8:30 – 9:00pm Adult Leaders Meeting/Registration/Student

Day Two

9:00 – 9:30am Morning Rally
9:30 – 9:45am Break
9:45 – 10:45 Break-Out #1
10:45 – 11:15am Team Debrief
11:15 – 11:30am Break
11:30 – 12:30pm Break-Out #2
12:30 – 1:30pm Lunch (on campus)
1:30 – 4:30pm Leadership Challenge
5:00 – 7:00pm Dinner (off campus)
7:00 – 8:30pm General Session #2

Day Three

9:30 – 11:00am General Session #3
11:00 – 12:00pm Implementing Change
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch (on campus)
1:00 – 3:00pm General Session #4



Doug Fields is a communicator, author, & consultant. He is the Executive Director of HomeWord’s Center for Youth/Family at Azusa Pacific University, the co-founder of, and the author of more than 50 books. More information about Doug is available at


Josh Griffin is an in-the-trenches high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and has been in youth ministry for 20+ years. Josh has written several books, thousands of youth ministry blog posts and is the co-founder of Download Youth Ministry. He is the author of 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders. Josh is a father of four who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at


Jana is one of the co-founders of SLC and brings more than 20 years of youth ministry and church experience to the table. Her heart and transparency for serving others models to students what it means to live out their faith. Her messages will challenge and inspire your students this summer!


Cluster of Students is the senior student band at Saddleback Church. They write and produce many of their own songs and can be found on iTunes and Spotify! You’ll love their music and love the heart of these talented student leaders.

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At SLC we talk as much about serving as we do leading. It is true we want to develop student leaders, but at the heart of SLC we hope students leave as servant leaders; who go and serve in their local church. Biblical leadership is about genuinely caring for the people God entrusts to us and it starts with learning to serve needs with love. When high school students understand this concept and look closely at their leadership style and abilities they begin to look for opportunities to serve. We have all heard the statistic about students graduating from their faith, but if you look closely you will see high school students who are serving are more likely to find and get involved in a church when they go away to college. It starts with servant leadership.

SLC is not a camp (transportation and lodging are all on your own). While we will have a lot fun and we will make some great memories. SLC is not intended to entertain students, but rather, challenge them. We also think there is something special about coming as a small group and learning as part of a larger group. A sense of belonging to your group begins to develop and by the time you leave SLC it’s fun to see how your youth group has bonded because of a new mutual experience. By being part of a larger group, your students get a bigger perspective on what other students are doing in their own ministries, how they are serving in their church, and what they are contributing to the global Church. 

We design SLC to be Experiential. Our hope is to create a supportive atmosphere where students are encouraged to participate and challenged to think differently. Some of this will come with teaching from the stage, some of it will come from engaging worksheets and reflective processing, some will even come from debriefing conversations. But we don’t want students to just sit and take notes, we want students to engage in the material through planned leadership scenarios and opportunities. These experiences are usually guided by adults, but driven by students.

SLC is built on student involvement and leadership development. A lot of the people you will see on stage will be students and a lot of the details behind the scenes will be handled by students. Each year we invite a few students who have been to SLC to join our team. They travel with us and come alongside us as “interns” helping to pull off the many details, whether that be helping with worship, emceeing or serving behind the scenes—that is how committed we are to modeling student servant leadership.

In my early years of youth ministry I wasn’t wise with how I prioritized my ministry.
I think I felt so much pressure from the weekly programs that never seemed to let up! If I did have time in between programs I’d usually spend it worrying about volunteers, parents, and putting out fires.

I didn’t have time to do things like develop student leaders! Or so I thought.
Bottom line: I viewed student leadership as “nice-to-have” rather than a “must-have.” I was wrong!

It finally hit me—many of my students were leading and influencing in other areas of their lives: sports’ teams, student government, drama/performing arts, etc… and they excelled and enjoyed those opportunities to lead and serve.

Teenagers were so much more capable and effective at reaching their peers than any program. They cared about their spiritual life and their friends and their church and their community. Once I began to view them as leaders and gave them opportunities to serve… my leadership changed and my ministry changed.

Our ministry was taken to school campuses, sports practices, drama rehearsals and any areas that our student leaders influenced. Other teenagers began to be drawn toward serving and leading. It was an awesome paradigm shift.

Fast forward many years… I began sharing about the impact our student leadership program had on the church and community… and youth workers began to listen. We started a conference for youth leaders and their students and I’ve never looked back.
It’s called the Student Leadership Conference (SLC) and we’ve been doing it for many years… each summer in 3 locations… and I am so proud of the legacy of peer servant hood, leadership development and spiritual discipleship that comes out of these conferences. It’s so fun to hear the stories of the continued impact that SLC has as well.

Doug Fields


You will need transportation for your group. Not only will you need to get everyone to and from the conference, but you will also have opportunities to explore the area during free time. In addition, we typically have at least one activity that happens off campus and your group will be responsible for your own transportation.

The conference will be designed for high school students, but may be appropriate for mature incoming 8th graders. Exiting seniors are welcome as well.

Two lunches are included in the cost of the conference. Breakfasts and dinners will be on your own as a group.

Your group is responsible for your own lodging. Each of the conferences will have hotels in the surrounding areas–or feel free to get creative as a group and come up with an alternative lodging arrangement.


Ideas for your students BEFORE they attend the Student Leadership Conference

In addition to choosing some teenagers who are sharp and/or have shown potential toward leadership, we believe that everyone will benefit if they’re given a bit of pre-arrival attention. Please consider spending some time preparing them to think and act a little different before they arrive.

Here are some ideas that might help you prepare your students prior to our time together in July.

1 – Have them read Help! I am a Student Leader

 2 – Have them read Congratulations, You’re Gifted

3 – Have them write out their own faith story (either their conversion experience and/or a spiritual growth opportunity).

4 – Have them identify a mentor/encourager who could be praying for them while they’re away at the Student Leadership Conference.

5 – Have them write the top 5 things they love about your church and your youth ministry. (Two separate lists)

6 – Have them articulate two things they would like to help change in your youth ministry. Let them explain why they want to see the change and how they think they can help.

7 – Have them write a paragraph on they want and expect to get out of the Student Leadership Conference.

8 – Have them spend some time studying their Bible and discovering some biblical leaders and identify specific verses that describe leadership.

9 – Have them write a definition in their own words of the following…leadership, servant leadership, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and worship.

10 – Have them list specific actions AND character qualities that they believe make up a Christ-following leader.


Just want to let you know that God used SLC last year to really push our youth leaders to live out their identity as an example to this generation for Christ. I can keep on going about how we blessed we are with what you’re doing but I’ll stop here!
Ezekiel , Youth Worker
Our group is so pumped about coming back this summer and I can’t tell you what a major influence and inspiration that event has been to build our students up in their confidence as leaders
Lyons, Youth Worker
The time I spent with my youth group at SLC was, if I dare say, the best weekend of my life. I knew from the moment I stepped into the conference I had come to the right place. All of the amazing speakers you had, the incredible music the band played, and the opportunities the conference gave me. I not only found the answers I was looking for, but I found God once again. It was truly a blessing to attend, and for that I will always be thankful.
Student, Age 16
We have come to SLC for the last three years. I can’t recommend this event enough (to our student leaders). Our students look forward to every year, even those who don’t get to attend love hearing all that the other students learned. I can not even begin to describe the impact that it’s had o nthe leaders in our group.
Ryan, Youth Worker
I just wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you for what you and done and continue to do with SLC. We were fortunate enough to bring 5 students to SLC and it has been one of the best decisions we’ve made. Because of this conference, our students have already taken steps to improve our youth group and church!
Tyler, Youth Worker
SLC was so transformational for our students…. Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting in so much time and energy to create a place for our students to learn, grow and be challenged to think!
Jessica, Youth Worker