Last week I had the great pleasure of being a part of The Northwest Ministry Conference. I was honored to be a seminar presenter this time around. My review from last year remains very much the same. I also will once again say this, the opportunity to talk with the vendors and the seminars alone are worth your ticket price for this event. SO worth it. I’ll be back next year.
Somebody please tell me this post is better late than never.
I had a detailed post planned in my head and then somehow before I knew it I had slept in every time zone in the continental US in less than a week, spoken 4 times in 2 days in Puerto Rico, and sat through more meetings than any one person should on sunny early summer days.
So here I am.
Perhaps the biggest thing I could say about The Gathering is that I just blocked out the dates for it in 2014. I will be going back.
David C. Cook continues to delight and surprise me with their cohesive thoughts, cutting-edge ideas, and truly impactful events. I’m a huge fan.
The Gathering was the most personally refreshing event I have been to for over a year. The speakers were excellent. They didn’t preach things to “do” they preached “be”. They spoke to the heart of me as a leader and my heart responded by resonating and agreeing. The worship times were excellent and so very much needed. Let’s be honest, as kidmin leaders we rarely get to go to big church. When I get away for a conference I’m not just looking for ideas, I’m desperately searching for refreshment and renewal. The Gathering delivered all of that.
Beyond my personal refreshment I was encouraged in ministry. My job is unique and I’ve yet to meet anyone else who does the combination of things I do. With that being said, I walked away with some great tools and ideas. The seminars were well thought out and well delivered. While they were good, I felt that they were the weakest part of the whole event. This could be because I was stuck in a lobby trying to hear my presenter. It seemed a bit haphazard However, after such solid large group sessions I didn’t mind in the least.
I so appreciated that this was not a 3 day commercial for Tru. Yes, it was mentioned and yes, it permeated throughout but it was not commercial time. What I appreciate about Tru is it is more a philosophy of ministry than it is a curriculum. The philosophy is truly (no pun intended….I crack myself up) solid. There I sat as a non Tru user, but a huge Tru supporter and believer, and I felt completely at home.
Which brings me to my next point. It’s not a huge conference so there is a lovely family feel. My favorite conferences are the little ones where I get to see the same people over and over again and feel like I’m a part of small group of people doing ministry together. I love that.
Random things I feel like mentioning….
-a wide array of snacks that were available all the time
-very delicious meals that were included
-parking is a major challenge as the church is in a random place. Get there early or be prepared to walk
-Southern California….need I say more? 10 minutes from the beach, yummy tacos around every corner, and that laid back Cali feel
-My notes from the workshop: Teaching Your Child Healthy Sexuality byJim Burns http://note.io/11obn8Z
Last week found me landing in our nation’s capital for The Accessibility Summit. I originally heard about this summit from the good people over at Key Ministry. The conference is for families and caregivers, faith-based organizations, service providers, teachers, and other professionals connected to the special needs community.
My job as the national children’s ministry specialist for The Christian and Missionary Alliance takes me many places and I get asked a lot of questions. More and more the questions I’m asked have to do with special needs of some sorts. I’ll be honest, I’ve been in over my head. I am so incredibly grateful for the network of people who have come around me to help me learn. I am also grateful for The Accessibility Summit.
I will admit this summit definitely needs to bump up their social media influence because my guess is for some of you, this is the first you’ve heard about that. Hosted at MClean Bible Church the facility was perfect for the conference. They were great about providing snacks as well.
Keep in mind, I was specifically attending this conference to see how I could relate it to the churches I work with and for big picture ideas. I was not looking for specific treatments, trainings, or curriculum.
Things I loved:
There was a good variety of seminars taught by very sharp people who have a genuine passion for this community. The people in general at the conference were great. Very loving and open.
Things I missed:
Worship. How do you have a conference like this and not offer a time of refreshment and worship? I’m baffled. There were a number of parents with kids with special needs and I couldn’t help but think how much they would have benefited from being able to join in corporate worship.
Resources. The resource center lacked. I was looking for true go to resources and instead I found myself inundated with specialized walkers, vitamin booths, and coloring books. Not what I was looking for.
What I didn’t love:
Seminars that were too specific to particular situations without it being clearly advertised. I think there was a time and an audience for that but I felt blindsided by a couple of seminars that were very much geared towards parents and teachers and were completely unhelpful to me.
The main session times lacked clarity and smoothness. I definitely missed the corporate feel that could have been there. I think they missed the mark by not offering worship and not offering a speaker to refresh and teach not just inspire. My opinion.
In short. I’m signed up again for next year. This was an excellent resource for me from both the denominational aspect as a whole and down to the individual churches I work with. I’ll be back and I think you should be to.
Did you know, 80% of families with special needs do not attend church? It’s our mission field, what are you doing to reach them?
I personally went to the Northwest Ministry Conference because I was curious about what exactly is going on in the northwest for our churches. I had heard about NWMC but I hadn’t heard much. To be honest, in our world of social media no news usually means bad news, not the other way around. Because of the nature of my job I want/need to be in the know in regards to regional and national ministry events.
Let me start by saying the registration and the site itself is clunky. I was on there a number of times and each time I was confused and not able to find what I wanted to find right away. For instance, there is no button for “schedule” or even “seminars”. Instead you have to flip through the online program to find what you need. I found that extremely time wasting. As far as registration there is no way to register online. True story! I was shocked. My poor assistant had to do what cavemen of old would do and print, write, and fax my registration in. Because there is no online registration there is no online confirmation. Therefore, I arrived wondering if I truly was registered. Interesting…..
The conference was held at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA. It’s not exactly in the most direct location but I had no problem getting there with my trusty GPS by my side. I was surprised that there was no signage regarding the conference to greet me. I knew I was in the right place by the vast array of church vans and busses.
Signage overall at the conference was lacking. There were some amazing greeters to greet me at the door with cheers and welcomes. They were a lot of fun. However, once I entered the church I didn’t know where to go and beyond that I had a hard time getting around in general. I did manage to find the registration about halfway down the hallway. To my relief, I was indeed registered. I followed the throngs of people to the general session area and there I met up with my social media friends/team. Yes, yours truly helped with social media for the event. Here’s a link to an interview I did regarding that.
I gotta be honest (it’s who I am), I thought the general sessions were about 2 steps away from being a joke. Ouch. Sorry, but I had to say it. The first session was 2 ½ hours long and had about 20 minutes of worship and 12 minutes with the keynote speaker. 12 MINUTES! The rest of that time….2 hours, was commercials. Literally commercials. One after another. Some of them were sweet, some of them were funny, but the bottom line is, they were all commercials.
In my opinion that was the absolute weakest part of the conference. I understand they keep their costs low by doing that but it was ridiculous. I’d love to see them come up with more creative ways to have sponsors be promoted without being inundated with 2 hours of commercials. But that’s just me. When I go to a conference I’m not just looking for information I’m looking for refreshment, for a chance to meet with God, for a moment in the midst of chaos to simply worship and be still.
Now before you think I’m just blasting this conference to smithereens let me talk about the seminars. There were loads and loads of them and the ones I went to were very well done. That seems to be where the meat of the conference really takes place. They covered a wide variety of subjects and there were slots I wish I could go to 3 or 4 at a time. I definitely give NWMC huge props for bringing in excellent speakers and presenters. Those seminars alone are, in my opinion, a very good reason to attend.
Every corner I turned there were vendors. It was awesome. I was overwhelmed and super impressed with the caliber of vendors. Some were random, like the carpet cleaning one, but most were excellent ministries that had a lot to offer people in ministry. Again, huge kudos to NWMC for brining in such a wide variety of vendors. Connecting with them alone, in my opinion, is a very good reason to attend.
I genuinely enjoyed my time at NWMC. I plan on returning again next year and the word on the street is I’ll be speaking. The coordinators of this event have a huge heart for this ministry and it shows. I definitely want to see them bump it up even more with more social media interaction, completely redoing the general sessions, and by providing an even higher caliber of experience. With that in mind even if they never reach to the next level I’d still make this a must go to event if I lived in the Northwest….I’d just sleep in and skip the general sessions.