For the last two months seldom is a day that goes by that I don’t get some church planting/leadership/pastor conference sponsor emailing me about coming to the conference…and pumping it on my blog. I’m both flattered and honored by the requests…the problem is…I can’t fit anymore into my schedule…or finances (sorry Perry). The leadership at Compass Point and myself already have three conferences planned throughout the Spring. We’d have a few more planned for the Summer or Fall…but apparently it is against the church conferences rulebook (Page 5, Article 63, Rule #238) to have one any other time than Spring.
I love attending conferences…though there was a time I didn’t. If you can get past the ego-stroking one-up-manship of talking worship attendance…they are a lot of fun. It’s great to connect with other pastors…discover some new ideas…and have a time of spiritual feeding. The biggest problem these days for me concerning conferences is (sorry Phil Stobbe, another list)…
1. They all tend to be in the Spring. They are stacked back to back and one on top of the other. For goodness sake…spread them out throughout the year. I can’t do week after week on the road and still pastor a local church. To be honest…if the choice is between properly shepherding my people…and coming to another conference…the conference gets kicked to the curb…I don’t care how well I know the sponsor or who is speaking.
2. Spring is too late to go with something new. For the most part Compass Point’s year is planned by the time we get to the first conference in February. Unless it is just an earth-shaking idea combined with a visible sign of wonder from God…we ain’t gonna switch horses in the middle of the ride. Any “cool” ideas we get at conferences in the Spring usually get shoved into the “wait until next year” file.
3. It would nice to get fed in the Fall. In the Fall a new year is just around the corner…quicker implementation of new ideas. Besides, by Fall burnout is starting to sit in and some great conference preaching would be an incredible spiritual boost.
4. I’m no longer a church planter. Compass Point is three years on…heading into four….we’ve planted. In all honesty, this is probably the last year that we’ll head to anything listed as a conference for church planting. We’ll pay for some other future church planters to go…but I think our staff will probably take a pass for something more relevant to what we are doing.
5. Most track times and breakout sessions are boring. Sorry, but I mainly go for the main stage preaching and networking. Most track times and breakout sessions are a rehash of someone’s book or “this is what we do so you should do it also”. SnoreFest!!! I’m all for learning things other churches are doing that seem to be effective…or are in line with what Compass Point is doing…but I don’t want to hear about it in a sleep-inducing Powerpoint-overused presentation…I wanna see it in action. If a church’s structure or strategy catches my eye…I’m going to ditch the conference and spend the money to go directly to the church for instruction.
6. Too many non-pastors telling pastors what’s going on. Hey breakout session dude, the minute you used the phrase “when I used to pastor a church…” I mentally checked out. I don’t care that you helped developed the new knob on this year’s iPod or that your research of 72 college students showed that they are more likely to sleep in than go to church after a night of heavy drinking. Fortune 500 CEOs and cultural statisticians know jack about pastoring a church (okay, Dr. Stetzer gets a pass on this because technically he is still one of us). You say, “but Chris the CEO, former pastor or stat guy wrote a best selling book!” Several years ago China had an orangutan named “Twinkles” that wrote a book with finger paints. It didn’t make him an expert…or relevant to my world.
7. There is not enough breakout stuff for lead/senior pastors. Yeah, the vision casting, how to lead a team stuff is cool…but every conference is doing that gig. How about a breakout session for pastors dealing with a wife that feels neglected because of ministry…or a track time for pastors struggling with porn….or even something dealing with sermon preparation, time management or personal prayer? If I want to know about being a creative leader I’ll head over to the breakout session by the guy that designed the knob on this year’s iPod.
I said all of that to say this…I am looking forward to being at Evolve, Unleash and Exponential. There is a whole slew of others I would love to attend but they are stacked too close to others and are not really offering anything new. I realize that there is always a new bumper crop of church planters each year that have never heard this stuff. It’s just that many of us already have…please conference sponsors…give us something new and different to chew on!!!