joining and growing: more thoughts from a conference junkie

Yesterday, I started sharing some thoughts after visiting nearly forty college minister training forums since 2001. Whether you’re just part of a group that gathers (and can pass these on to organizers), or you’re a leader who wants to help other college ministers learn, I hope these help.

Read the first thoughts here. Today, I continue…

Don’t simply train, teach! Yes, we want to stock our events with speakers who have found success in certain areas: recruitment, fundraising, special events, etc.. But while you have college ministers’ attention, are you also offering new ways to think? For example, are you noting all the ways recruitment should be discipleship, debating the issues that surround fundraising, or urging leaders to plan their special events backwards? If people aren’t leaving with new thoughts, only new methods, our gatherings are missing something.

The Whiteboard rules. In light of the fact that you’re drawing together people from a wide variety of non-interchangeable contexts, I’d highly encourage a Whiteboard Session – also known as the “crowdsourced collaboration method.” I’ve discussed that method here.

Know your group. As well as you can. Even if you don’t personally know all the people attending your conference, lunch, or retreat, do what you can to learn their (1) unique contexts and (2) hopes / needs for the gathering. Those two questions alone will help you think through what you’re offering, for sure.

Connect people. While nobody’s context is the same as anyone else’s, there are obviously similarities along certain axes. And there’s nothing more encouraging than interacting with people who are facing the same challenges (and opportunities) as you. After getting to know the attendees (see above), think through how you can connect them along various lines. This may come through table groups, breakout sessions, or even personal introductions.

Evaluate, of course. After the fact. Even midway, if you can. It takes guts, but it makes everything better.

Tomorrow’s Fridea will connect to this, so be sure to check that out.


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  1. Pingback: gathering and learning: thoughts from a conference junkie « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

  2. Pingback: you should plan a conference (a fridea) « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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