Conference Conversations

As I prepare to head out of town for a conference this week, my kids have asked me the question, “Dad, what is a conference?”  I’ve tried to give them an answer that I thought would make it easy for them to understand and my response was,

“A conference is where people that want to learn and grow to be better at their job go to learn and get better at their job.  But really, it’s place that I go to talk to people.”

Then began a conversation about talking to people at conferences; and meeting people I don’t know; and hearing from people I’ve never heard from; and all the other benefits of getting out of town and seeing what’s out there.  If I had to explain why you’ve heard me talking about so many conferences on the blog this year here it is:

I go for the conversations.  I go for the dinners with friends sharing my own struggles.  I go for the one-way conversations I have with the people teaching as I’m listening.  I go for the one-way conversations I have with people listening to me as I’m teaching.  I go to meet people different than me.  I go to meet people similar to me.  I go to every conference for different conversations.

The Orange Conference // I go for the life long friends I’ve met through Orange.  I also go because it’s a rare conference that combines denominations, ministry leaders, youth leaders, volunteers, children’s leaders, and senior pastors into one space that creates fireworks of collaboration.  It’s unique.

The D6 Conference // I go for the new people I get to meet and see.  This next week I’ll be at D6 for the first time.  It looks to be a great environment for learning the best from marriage, parenting, and church leadership leaders.  I’m real excited to also not have to travel far to this one!

The KIDMIN Conference // I’m going to Kidmin because I love kids and those that minister to them!  Kidmin is trying really, really hard to reach those that minister to children in a community settings.  No green rooms, no hideaway meals, and relationship encouraged at every turn.  Not to mention Gina McClain laying down some awesome sauce in the main sessions!

Illuminate Conference // I love Illuminate because it’s all about volunteers.  Illuminate encourages me to learn from others, yet allows me the place to teach into those that are going where I’ve been.  I love the opportunity that Illuminate presents to church leaders in Birmingham, AL; Austin, TX; and Nashville, TN to bring their key volunteers together for a ministry investment!

Children’s Pastor Conference // I’ll be at both CPC conferences this year for a new reason.  I’m believing for a change in the way INCM meets and connects Kidmin leaders throughout the world.  CPC is a place that is changing, and I’m excited for the direction my friend Michael Chanley is taking INCM and CPC.

I’m not nieve and I understand that on some level all these conferences compete for the same attenders.  However, I am not an employee of any one conference.  I am just a conversationalist looking for more conversation.   Sure I have my favorites, and I could rank them in some arbitrary order.  But why? Conversations are what I’m looking for.  Not arguments.

Simple as that, kids. :-)

Zapped

I love music.  I would also like for my own kids to know and love music. I believe one of the easiest ways to introduce kids to music, is to start introducing them to good music in our Weekend Experiences at church. I know that “church music” and “good music” haven’t always flowed in the same sentence as it pertains to kids; but Amber Sky Records is working hard to change that!

  • There is of course the  music, and 12 songs of greatness!  My kids favorites off the Zapped album include; Happy and YouKnowIt (a great version!), Jesus Freak/Undiginified, and No One Greater.
  • There is also a  Dance Moves DVD  that includes instructional dance moves as well as Dance Move Videos.
  • There is also an entire  Performance DVD package  that gives you every conceivable combination of live lyric videos and dance move instructional.  You can get the music with a full background mix, or full vocal mix.  It’s crazy how much you get from just 12 songs on the Zapped album!
Something this great has changed the way we lead the worship experience for Elementary students at our church.  Using a combination of the live lyric videos from Amber Sky Records; we’ve been able to create something meaningful for our kids.  At the same time, we are introducing them to good music!  A Win-Win!  Speaking of winning, look what we have here.  It’s a chance to win!

I’m going to giveaway some great Zapped music this week.  Use the PunchTab application above to enter yourself up to 5 times!  I’m going to giveaway ONE  Zapped Audio CD  ($15 value) and ONE  Zapped Dance Moves DVD  ($30 value).  The winner gets both to use at church or home!  Enter right now!

Orange Day

This week there will be a plethora of web writings and blog postings extolling the virtues of The Orange Conference.  I’m sure that you’ve heard my take a few dozen times over the years, but the Orange Conference is (IMHO) simply the greatest combination of family ministry minds gathered together each year.  There are some great conferences out there, and we are living in a Church Ministry golden age of some great gatherings for leaders.

To me The Orange Conference is the premier place to get to know children’s pastors, youth pastors, family ministry pastors, and senior pastors; because they are all in the same room.  The Orange Conference is NOT a family conference.  The Orange Conference is NOT a children’s ministry conference.  The Orange Conference is NOT a youth ministry conference.  But what it is NOT, is what makes it so great.  Those that gather each April in Atlanta are gathering so that they can step outside their own ministry comforts, and join the conversation within a greater team of leaders leading the entire family.

I’ll be there this April in Atlanta, and I hope that if you are a church ministry leader you will pray about joining me with the others in attendance.  Let’s work to be game changers in our churches and communities!

Check out the NEW Orange Conference website today, and don’t forget to mark your calendars right now!  Registration begins on September 22nd, and you will want to register on this day to get the cheapest rates to the Orange Conference!

Illuminate Conference News

This just in…stop…from Mr. Kenny Conley and team…stop…big news out of Nashville…stop…Illuminate…coming to a town near you…stop…read below for all the cats pajamas…stop…you’re welcome…stop…

With two Illuminate Conferences under my belt, one thing is sure… Illuminate is like no other conference. At both Austin (2010) and Birmingham (2011) I heard the same thing over and over.

Amazing!

Incredible!

Inspiring!

Encouraging!

That’s what kidmin volunteers from Texas, Alabama and Georgia all had to say about their Illuminate experience. So, the only logical thing to do is more events, right? That’s what I thought too.

On Saturday, February 18th, 2012… Illuminate comes to the great city of Nashville, TN! Details are still coming together (like speakers and breakouts) but we do have a handful of great communicators already lined up.

  • Jim Wideman (General Sessions and Leader Q & A)
  • Jonathan Cliff
  • Amy Fenton Lee
  • I’ll be there too… plus a few others

So, if you live within a 2-4 hour radius of Nashville, TN, make plans to attend the only event bringing some of the most influential voices in kidmin to the local arena to equip volunteers. It’s one of the best investments you could make in your volunteer team. At the early bird price, you can afford to bring them all!

For more information about Illuminate, check out  illuminateconference.tv.  For more information about the Nashville event, visit  nashville.illuminateconference.tv.

Staff Talk: Assume the Best

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the tension that exists on our church staff this week.  This is my last attempt at teaching myself and others how to navigate these sometimes bumpy waters of working on a church staff.  I’ve written about defining what you want out of your church staff relationships, taking action steps to make it happen, and practicing a high level of accountability to seeing it take place in your reality.  Right now I want to address the bow that tops the gift.

When working on a church staff, you always put yourself in a position for success when you decide beforehand that you will assume the best of those you work with.

Put it however you want.  You have to give them a benefit of the doubt, expect the best out of their intentions, and stop assuming the worst in everyone else’s motives.

I’ve sat in many an office with someone that is deeply wounded by the actions of another.  Many times I’m not seeing the offense, but I encourage the wounded person to speak to that person to hurt them.  What’s crazy to me, is how often the offense was never intended; and the person that did the wounding leaves wounded.  Why would they leave feeling hurt?  Because they can’t imagine that someone they trust would think they’d have such a terrible motive behind their actions.

When we choose to assume the best of those we work with, we free ourselves from the comparison game.  We free ourselves from bitterness towards the success of others.  We free ourselves from resentment that only handicaps our own efforts for the Kingdom of God.  When was the last time you were willing to give others the opportunity to have a bad day?  Do you never have bad days?  When have you given people the room to just misspeak?  Have you never misspoken?  When have you offered someone quick forgiveness, seeing that they genuinely made a mistake?  You can live free, and it all starts with giving others the same courtesy you’d want them to give you!

I’m not naive.  I realize there are some mean and angry people working on church staffs.  There is rarely a conference that goes by that I don’t hear stories about how church staffs that turn my stomach.  But even in that world, assuming the best goes a long ways towards giving us the health we need to work with those we lead, those we cooperate with, and those we follow.