The Challenge Every Conference Attender Faces

I love conference.  The Orange Conference starts today.  It’s simply phenomenal.  5000 leaders from around the world in one place to figure out how churches can help parents and the next generation win.  Last month our team was at Drive.  These are world class opportunities to learn and connect.  They are also, quite frankly, fun.

But they can be challenging too.  Here’s why.  Conferences are almost always run by people who started churches.  They are almost always run by leaders who have met with some considerable ‘success’ in ministry, often with stories of churches that start with 1000 people in attendance in the first year, first month, first minute…you know the story.

The tension is that conferences are attended mostly by people who are trying to transition an existing church or by leaders who are in a start up that attracted hundreds or dozens in it’s first year.   And the reality is the churches most of us go home to have some confusion about ministry approach, future direction, and may have teams that are not all on the same page.

You go to a conference and get completely fired up. You’re excited, inspired.  You dream.  You actually see what could be.

And then you go home.

And a month later you are discouraged, frustrated, angry and a bit heartbroken.  Because what could be is not yet.  And now it looks like it might never be.  It’s not that you don’t want it to be, it’s that you don’t know how.

Three qualities can help us tremendously as we think about what happens when we point the car home or hand the boarding pass to the gate agent:

Courage – What I’m perhaps being called to do is going to take time, resolve and strength that in all likelihood God himself is going to have to give me.

Humility – I came alone or only with a few team members.  I need to go home and humbly work with other people who weren’t in the room to create a shared vision, shared action plan and shared implementation plan.

Perseverance – The work I’m doing is hard.  I need to take a long view and realize I will over estimate what can happen in the course of a week or months, but I will likely underestimate what can happen over the course of a few years.

What helps you turn a vision into reality when you head home?  What’s your biggest struggle in implementing great ideas and new directions when you get home?



  1. Jamie Stinson on April 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I totally agree Carey…Canadians really need to learn to network more. Living in Kingston, I feel like the only person in the entire city carrying the Orange flag and it does get rather lonely. Watched most of the opening session tonight…wish I was there!
    Looking forward to reading your posts and updates from the conference.
    I also know there is a group from Forest Brook Community Church from Ajax at the conference.. be sure to look them up!

  2. Jonathan Holcomb on April 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I think one thing that you have to do after a conference is cast the vision to your fellow leaders first and foremost. This can be very difficult, because we can see the reasons why this or that needs to be changed or why something would work better. In in the end it is selling everyone on the vision that is inspiring you.

  3. Carla S on April 27, 2011 at 7:26 am

    We are a small team from a small church (in Canada!) attending Orange for the second time. Last year we determined to meet regularly after Orange and gradually implement a strategy that suited our church community, bringing others on board through the year. We are so excited to be back and know that this will boost what is already happening!

    • Carey on April 27, 2011 at 7:32 am

      So cool…and a great plan. Us Canadian leaders should network more. There’s a great group from Brentwood Baptist in Calgary here, some folks from Calvary in Cambridge and we have about 8 from Connexus. Go Canada!

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