So today I'm led to wonder about the difference between two large youth conference/festivals that are run by Christians in Victoria.

One is called Soul Survivor.  It's big tag line on there brochure is:
Equipping you to live out your faith beyond the confines of a festival, church or youth group because Jesus affects EVERYTHING!
The other is VCYC.  It's tag line is:
Equipping young people with God's Word to impact their world.
Sound familiar?  Actually it sounds a lot like Soul Survivors tag line!  So what's the difference?  And how does a Youth Minister make a decision about where he sends his youth?  (Note: the church I'm at has a long history with VCYC so that's how I make my decision at the moment)

I thought I'd do a little bit of a comparison of each organisations advertising and say what I like and don't like!

Things I like:
  • They have pictures of people having fun on their home page of the website!  It's one of the first things you notice.  They also have a pretty cool promo video (which features me) so that gives them bonus points!
  • It's pretty cheap!  Anywhere from $50 to $95 depending on your accommodation option!
  • It is very obvious who the speakers are (I know 3 out of the 4) so I can trust what is going to be said, they have themed it the whole conference around Hebrews 12:2, fixing our eyes on Jesus, so I'm also pretty well aware of what to expect from the talks.
  • They are not trying to be a big evangelistic event.  Sure some non-Chrisitan youth might come, but they are targetting this primarily at Christians.  I think this is a good move!
Things I don't like:
  • The prominence given to the speakers!  On their main poster that they send out for us to put up on the walls features very prominently at the bottom large photos of the 4 speakers and their names.  That's great for me as a Youth Minister in enabling me to make a judgement about whether or not I would want to support such an event.  However, I'm not so sure how great that is for advertising to young people.  First of all I doubt that many of my youth are really that aware of who, Steve Brown, Camille Imberger, Adam Hince or Kieran Carr are!  If they know who they are, then I'm not sure that they come for the speaking anyway.  Sure that's a very important part of what happens at these kind of conferences, but not sure if it's a drawcard for your poster.  You could still make it clear that there would be talks without plastering 4 unknown faces on your poster.  Unless they get Miley Cyrus or Barrack Obama to come and speak one year, the speaker is probably not going to be a drawcard to the average youth.
Things I like:
  • Despite my previous point about the tag lines being similar, I really like the idea Soul Survivor is pushing of the 360 Degree Gospel.  I think that is a really effective way of getting across the message that the Gospel should have an affect on all aspects and areas of our life.  It gets across the notion of living a fully sold out gospel life very well.
  • I also like how their brochure/poster says "YOU".  Eg. "It's all about equpping you to live out your faith..."  It makes it feel more like the youth are being personaly invited.
Things I don't like:
  • I like their opening values statment on their website:
"The heart of Soul Survivor is to envision young people to capture first the vision of Jesus, and then his calling on their lives and then to equip them, train them and release them into ministry - so that they do it wherever they go, wherever they are. The Bible is our final authority on all matters. We want everything we do at Soul Survivor to be in line with the Bible, and in step with the Holy Spirit. We value Bible-based lifestyles, teachable attitudes and unity in the hearts of everyone involved.
We are committed to non-hype. We want to provide space and opportunity for young people to genuinely connect with God."
However, I'm not a fan of the ordering of the values under that.  Worship, Justice and Compassion, Evangelsim and Discipleship, Holy Spirit Empowered Lives and Ministry.  My alarm bells ring when I see social justice elevated above evangelism and discipleship.  In fact they get raised when anything is placed above them.  However, I guess they could be in a random order, but I doubt it.
  • I don't see how registration can be so much more expensives than VCYC.  Minimum is $90 for an early bird and max is $130.  What do they do that is so different and requires so much more money?
  • I also don't like how I can't find out anything about the speakers at the conference.  Sure 360 degree Gospel is a cool idea.  But who's going to convey that to the youth?
In the end I'm certain that God uses both Soul Survivor and VCYC to do great things in the lives of young people.  There probably isn't really that much difference between the two conferences and you would most likely hear similar things at both.  Maybe they should join forces?