I love conferences…
It is good to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and get motivated. However, in really thinking about a conference that changed the way I do ministry, only one comes to mind.
Now, first of all I have been on some marriage retreats that have done some amazing things for my wife and me on communicating, but nothing in comparison to “Baptist Expression of Marriage Encounter”. This conference was the “biggie” that we’ll never forget, it radically changed the way we have done marriage.
I’ve been on spiritual retreats; probably the most meaningful to me was “Walk to Emmaus”. This was an incredible, three-day event that was life-changing for me.
However it was out of a crisis that the most ministry-changing conference was to be on my horizon…
It was December of 2000, I was a minister of music at a mid-sized church near St. Louis, Missouri. I was all creativity and no organization. I actually “poo-pooed” the idea of being organized, wearing a messy desk as a badge of ‘the creative spirit’. It was dress rehearsal of our big Living Christmas Tree performance. I was REALLY firing on all cylinders, and busy as busy could be, when music ministry tragedy struck. We were doing a collection of pieces with tracks and live musicians. I mislaid the track of one of our pieces (thank goodness, it wasn’t the opener, or big finale). I searched everywhere, spending hours looking for a single thin CD at a time in my season that I had no time in my season. The CD was found…in January. Yep, I had to cancel one of our songs because I couldn’t find the track. I realized then that my lack of organization had stifled my creativity.
We had a new year’s budget a few weeks later. I had already put in to go to the worship conference that I always attended for my “Professional Development”. However, I realized that I was “underdeveloped professionally” when it came to organization. So, I researched, and I found the system that would best suit me, I went to a conference on Time Management, bought all the materials and decided that I would 100% buy into the system that they offered. I did, and it worked.
I still use methods that I learned at that conference, a dozen years later. I changed formats when the Palm Pilot, later to become my ‘Droid, came out – but the concepts never changed. My suggestion for you is to find some subject matter that you want to dive into, maybe not the same one you go to year after year, but one that can really change how you look at things and can radically alter your approach (in a positive light) to ministry or music. Here are some suggestions:
- Time Management
- Biblical Counseling
- Creative Writing
- Arranging and Composition
- Social Media Conference
- Pro-Tools Conference
- Personal Finance
- Grant Writing
- An A-V conference with your media people
- Maybe even a weekend, or week-long workshop on your given instrument
Another “conference” I did was to spend a weekend with an instructor in his studio learning MIDI Recording and composition techniques. It was ‘beaucoup’ dollars, but well worth the deep understanding of technology to which I still refer.
More often than not, we attend conferences that tend to be a “mile wide and an inch deep”. While those can be informative, motivational and necessary, we sometimes need more than varied one hour lectures and a lot of inspiration; sometimes we simply need to “go to school”. If you are taking the time to read this blog week to week, you are probably a candidate of something more.
Let me invite you to think long and hard about the conference you go to this year, and maybe shake things up a bit.