Making the Most of It
Our annual Leaders’ Conference is now just nine weeks away. Mike Kendall explains why he’s bringing his whole leadership team and how they use the conference together.
I love the FIEC Leaders’ Conference. Without question it’s my favourite conference.
I appreciate the chance to get away. I value the teaching. I love the way that we’re envisioned and equipped for gospel ministry. But above all I cherish the very tangible sense that we’re a band of brothers and sisters working together to reach our nation for Christ.
Last year the Conference moved to the Riviera Conference Centre in Torquay. The move worked well. The facilities are excellent and the staff did a super job of looking after us. It also meant that more people could benefit from the conference, and in particular that churches could send teams of people.
At St Neots, we were able to send our whole staff team: a Pastor, a Women’s Worker, a Youth & Children’s Worker, and an Apprentice. We had a great time together, and we’re all looking forward to it again this year. If you’re able to do it, I’d really recommend it.
For churches that can do that, the question is, “How do we make the most of it?” Here are four simple suggestions:
1. Be intentional
The Conference is a great opportunity to spend time together as a team, so make the most of it. We all stayed in the same hotel. We had breakfast together. We walked in to the Conference Centre together. We also had a drink together in the Conference Centre Bar before walking back to the hotel at night.
These were great opportunities to talk about the Conference together – to share what we’d found helpful, and to think about how to put it into practice in our own context.
But more than that, we had fun together. We enjoyed one another’s company. We got to know each other better. This year, we’ve said that after the Conference when we get home, we want to meet together, identify the most important lessons for us as a church, and then think about how to move forward with them.
2. Be generous
For me one of the great strengths of the Leaders’ Conference is the sense that we’re in it together as leaders. There’s a distinct lack of competitiveness. I love the sight of people sitting down, encouraging one another in the gospel, supporting one another, sharing ideas and best practice, and praying together.
I’m delighted that the move to Torquay means that more people are able to benefit from this. But it would be a great shame if our focus on spending time together as a team meant that we didn’t have time for others.
So, remember those who come on their own. Remember those who are new to the Conference. Remember those who are suffering or struggling. Welcome and include them. Seek to develop friendships and partnerships with people who are not like you. One of the things that our Women’s Worker values in particular is the opportunity to meet with other Women’s Workers – to encourage and be encouraged. This is tremendously helpful. Let’s not discourage it.
3. Be relaxed
The mistake I made last year was to try and go to as much as I could. It was all helpful, but it meant that the timetable felt very full and busy, and I missed out on opportunities to meet with others.
So here’s another simple suggestion: don’t think that you need to go to everything. Don’t worry about missing a session to meet someone for a coffee in the Coffee Shop downstairs, or to go for a walk along the sea front. Take time out to chew over what you’ve been hearing or to have a more relaxed browse of the excellent book stall.
4. Be prayerful
I hope this goes without saying, but let me say it anyway. Be prayerful.
In his very helpful little book, How to Walk into Church, Tony Payne says,
“If we walk into church praying, we’re putting ourselves in the right posture or frame of mind towards God. We are turning our hearts to the one who is the centre of everything, including our church… we’re also putting ourselves in the right frame of mind towards each other. We have started to think about church as being about someone other than me.”
(Tony Payne, How to Walk into Church, Matthias Media, pp.11-12)
It strikes me that this is great advice for the Leaders’ Conference too. If we walk into the Conference praying, we’re putting ourselves in the right frame of mind towards God. We’re saying, “Please teach, rebuke, correct and train me as I need it.” But we’re also putting ourselves in the right frame of mind towards each other – to the members of our own team, and to one another. We’re saying, “Please use this conference, and please use me, to encourage others in this great and urgent work of reaching our nation for Christ.”
Just imagine what God might do, if we all walked in, in that frame of mind!
Event passes for the Leaders’ Conference cost £210. Mike Kendall is one of the speakers this year and you can find out more about the conference and book your tickets on our conference page.