I enjoy attending conferences and usually come home inspired and ready to take the next hill for Jesus. I recently returned from The Lobby Conference 2018 (You should be there next year, sign up here). It was an amazing time, and I learned a ton from the speakers and from individual conversations with other Small Group Point People. I feel ready to take on the world right now. Which is why I need to review this list. And it may be helpful for you as well.
Five Ways to Fail after a Conference
- Tell your Senior Pastor he/she has been doing everything wrong. It is easy to come back from a conference and become critical of everything your church is doing. You may have a sense of “if we just did things like ______ church” we would be more effective. It is especially easy to be critical when it comes to the Senior Pastor (or other staff). Time for a reality check. Your church is doing amazing things, or it would be closed. Be grateful for the people God has given you to work with.
- Completely redesign your ministry based on what you heard. I have seen way too many Small Group Point People blow up their ministry because they heard a great talk at a conference. Small Group ministry is way more complicated than simply implementing the “right” system or plan because real people are involved. Take time to pray and consider how what you heard integrates with your current circumstances.
- Change nothing in your ministry based on what you heard. I have also seen way too many Small Group Point People assume they have nothing left to learn from others. They think they have the perfect system in place. If you feel that way, stop going to conferences and having conversations with others. I would also recommend letting God examine your heart in light of Proverbs 16:18. None of us have everything figured out.
- Assume everybody is doing it better than you. At a conference you see and meet people who seem to be doing things harder, better, faster, stronger than you. It is important to recognize that at a conference, everyone is speaking to the ideal not the real. And for most people, there is a gap between what they describe and reality. Feeling guilty that you should be “better” is not healthy or helpful.
- Leave early. The last session of a conference is always my favorite. Because everyone is a little brain tired. And this leads to vulnerability and honesty. Leaving early means you will miss out on some of the best conversations you could have.
Conferences can be very helpful and can help you move your ministry forward. However, filtering what you heard and the principles you learned through your own context and experience is essential.
One bonus way to fail. Talk to no one. I didn’t include this in the list above, because you are a Small Group Point Person, so I know you made a bunch of connections at your last conference. But maybe your friend needs this one.