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. :-)