Engagement.

It’s a big buzzword in the meetings industry, but for the organizers of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference, it’s more than an abstract concept—it’s incorporated throughout the conference. And beyond.

“Events are not the end—they are a means to a greater end,” says Jason Ostrander, director for SYMC, a conference for people who work with youth ministry groups across all denominations. His goal is to have all 2,900 attendees leave the conference inspired, educated, connected, and engaged in ways that will enrich themselves and their organizations.

The Simply Youth Ministry Conference, owned by Group Publishing, Loveland, Colo., is in its seventh year, but the 2013 event, held March 1–4 in Indianapolis, was a bit of a reboot. It was the conference’s first year under new direction after having been led for the previous six years by its two founders.

The reboot was an exciting but rather daunting task for Ostrander, author of the book 99 Questions Jesus Asked, who was hired last August and had just a few months to plan the conference. A former youth worker who had attended the conference every year, Ostrander chose to build in even more interaction and engagement than usual. Call it SYMC 2.0. Here are its rules of engagement.