5 Ways to Make the Most of the Leaders' Conference
A national conference can be exciting but overwhelming, and we want you to make the most of your time with us. Here are some things to bear in mind.
Nearly one thousand church leaders in one venue for a conference presents many positives but isn’t without its challenges.
People will be attending from different church contexts, with different personalities, and going through different seasons of life and ministry.
I pray these five actions below will help you to make the most of the time at the conference.
1. Say hello
I tell my kids all the time (and myself often!) that friendships start with a simple “hello”. So make sure your "hello"s are ready!
It might be to old friends you know from university, from other conferences, or churches you used to be a part of. The conference is a great opportunity to catch up.
Or, if you see someone you don’t know, get to know them! Especially if there is someone who has arrived alone, make an effort to welcome them – out of a love for others and for your own joy!
And look out for FIEC staff. Nearly all our staff members will be at the conference and would love to meet you (I would for sure!). And we are literally at your service, so let us know how we can help you.
You can use the FIEC Events app (available for Apple or Android devices) to connect with people during and after the conference to keep those conversations going (make sure you go to Profile > Settings > Privacy to make yourself visible to others to do this).
One of the joys of this kind of conference is hearing stories of what God is doing in places you didn’t know, and growing relationships in the family of God that will last a lifetime and beyond.
2. Sing your heart out
Singing is a big part of our time together as we praise God for his faithfulness and encourage each other with the gospel.
Nearly 1,000 voices singing in worship is a rare thing, so enjoy it! Put your all into joining the throng as you sing: it will be good for your soul and will spur on those around you.
It might be that you arrive in a place where singing with joy is the last thing you feel like doing. I know how that feels.
But let me encourage you that singing is one way that God will comfort you and build you up, even in the lowest of places.
3. Pray without ceasing
If singing is a big part of the conference, prayer is bigger yet. We need the Lord’s help and he is waiting to hear us come to him. So let’s pray!
Pray before you come to the gatherings or join the seminars, and afterwards to commit what you've heard to God.
Pray with and for other church leaders you meet, whether you’ve known them for years or minutes. If there is something to praise God for, praise him. If there is something to ask him for, ask him.
Show your dependence on God and hold up one another in the privilege of prayer.
4. Add to your reading list
It’s a common joke that church leaders need to bring extra luggage to conferences to bring home the books they will buy. But there is good reason for it!
We live in a time where we have more written words about the Christian life, about church ministry, exploring who God is and how that should shape our lives, than ever before. And the 10ofThose bookstall has discounts on many books at the conference.
There will be recommendations on the stage and there are reviews of books on the FIEC website which we have tried our best to have on sale at the conference too.
Or, try asking others what they are reading as you catch up and make new friends. Those books may well be on the bookstall too, with a personal recommendation to boot.
5. Leave some space
We don’t want this conference to be simply pragmatic and all about consuming information. We want relationships to grow between brothers and sisters, and we want you to grow in your faith and in your trust of the Lord in your ministry.
So make the most of the social time we have. Talk through what you’ve heard over meals together (we’ve given lots of time for this) or coffee breaks.
Or take time for yourself during those breaks, or during the optional second seminar session if you need it. Don’t feel like you have to do everything.
Most importantly, take time during (or after) the conference to talk it through with your leadership team. Every church has a different context and ministry will look different in different places. So, figure out what this means for you and those you’ve been called to serve.
6. Have fun
This is a bonus sixth way, but an important one!
Enjoy the fellowship of other believers and the opportunity to give your time and attention to the Lord. Have a joke, take photos together, even go on a rollercoaster on the Blackpool beachfront.
Jesus is the happiest person in the cosmos and loves when we enjoy the life he’s given. We hope and pray that this conference will be a glimpse into the “pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11) God has in store.