The Conference Question

By March 10, 2015Blog
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I go to a lot of conferences. Both as a spectator and as a teammate. And I’ve found that the answer to this one question usually determines how much I’m going to enjoy myself.

Was this for me, or for them?

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I’ll never forget the very 1st conference I ever went to. It was C3 in Dallas, Texas with Pastor Ed Young. I had been on staff at Guts Church for a little over three years and was a co-leader in our media office – or creative offices in most churches world. C3 was a creative conference for pastors and church leaders – and I must say – it was one of the most impacting impressions I’ve ever had in the church world. The atmosphere, energy, music, production level was an 11 on a scale of 1 – 10. The people I got to hear from and ideas that I took back to my office, helped frame my expectation on how a church service could be produced.

Now – let me stop for a second and help anyone reading this who may feel like I just boiled the local church down to a “show”. The local church is SO much more than any stage set, light show, sound board or breathtaking video. I believe that the hope of the world unto salvation lies within the walls of the local church. That being said – I whole-heartedly believe that there are God given gifts among those working and serving the local church, who use their skills on stage, with lights, running sound and producing videos that glorify God and bring others closer to Him with their efforts. But I’ve digressed…..back to my point.

My first conference experience was so good and framed my world so much – that I had a new standard to measure a “good conference” with. As I began traveling and attending more and more conferences, I also grew in my experience and expertise in production and quickly found myself with the opportunity to serve and produce various conferences with other churches. My measuring bar was still climbing to a point of continually asking: “what can we do this year?!” That question had dangerous consequences.

I can vividly remember sitting in the back of a room where we had just attempted to produce an opener for a conference that utilized: projection, glow-sticks, full body spandex suits, 3D paint/glasses and a dance number…….. -sigh-  // SIDE NOTE // I choose not to elaborate any more on this flop because I don’t want to hurt the feelings of anyone else who was in those pre-production meetings – myself included – who thought at the time “THIS IS GOING TO BE AAAAWWWWWEEEESOME!!!!” So, I’m sitting in the back of the room – completely drained from tireless nights of work and rehearsal – and I’m thinking to myself, what in the world are we doing here? We had gone through all this work – and for what?

I will be the first to admit, you can’t rush to judgement in the moment of failure. You need time to extract yourself from the preverbal car-wreck and evaluate what went wrong. In this scenario, I realized we had spent all of our time asking the wrong question. We worked tirelessly to simply out-work ourselves from the last year. If the answer to the question was: “THAT would be cool!”, we chalked it up as a task that needed accomplishing and moved into production. Producing “cool” for cool sake has a very short shelf life. Rarely, does it strengthen the relationship. We had lost sight of the true value of this gathering; helping others. At it’s core – that’s what C3 did for me so many years ago. They helped me see church in a new way.

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This week I’ll get together with some of my best friends and attend one of my favorite conference of the year. Seeds.

Whit and his team at Church on the Move have done a fabulous job putting together a week of sessions that help church leaders solve problems. What I love most – is they don’t come across in a way that makes you feel like they have all the answers. In fact, they promote the opposite –  we’ve tried a lot of things and this is what works for us. If it helps you in any way – take it, its yours! I love this. Kind of reminds me of something I read this morning…

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:40The Message (MSG) 

My pastor, Bill Scheer has a very simple saying: “What can I do for you?” I can’t remember the last time we talked where he didn’t ask me that question. What do I actually NEED?!  I am so very blessed. My shoe collection alone has far surpassed the point of “need”. And yet, he always asks. This is the heart of my Father. This must be our heart when we sit down to talk about hosting others for a week or weekend. What can we do to help someone in need?

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Erik Hansen

Author Erik Hansen

Husband, father, son and brother - usually in that order. Love thee God, Family and Notre Dame. Available for hire as a war time consigliere.

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