Over the next few days, myself and several of the leaders from my church are in Reno for the Acts 29 US West Conference. Having been to many church conferences over the years, here are a few things I have to remind myself of in order to posture my heart for what God might have for me at this conference.
1. EXPECT DON'T ASSUME
Come expecting. Expecting God to move in your heart. Expecting God to speak to your soul. Expecting God to renew your mind. Expecting God to give you rest. Expecting God to give you exactly what you need to remain committed to your calling for another season. Expect motivation. Expect inspiration. Expect adoration.
Don't assume. Don't assume you know how it's all going to go. Don't assume how you will feel during the times of worship. Don't assume what you will learn during the times of teaching. Don't assume what's going to be taught at the breakouts. Don't assume that what you've experienced at conferences before, will be what you experience this time around. Don't go through the motions of attending a church conference, expect a unique, powerful encounter with God!
2. LEARN DON'T EVALUATE
As a church planter, when we get in church environments, other than our own, we are more quick to evaluate what we see than we are to experience what we've been invited into. And it's the same way with conferences.
My encouragement to you is to go first, as a child of God and a son of a King who has much to learn rather than a church leader who has insight in regards to how the conference could be better. Take notes. Lean in. Refuse to check your emails. Determine to have your eyes and ears open to what God wants to say to you. Come as a humble servant not an arrogant professional.
3. WORSHIP DON'T WATCH
Similar to the point above, but specific to the times of singing and worship, engage personally don't evaluate critically. This is a rare opportunity where you aren't responsible for how the event is happening. You don't have to worry about the lyrics. You don't have to worry about the sound. You don't have to worry about the music or the service flow. You don't have to get up after the music is over and preach a message!
Worship Jesus. Praise His name. Sing. Loud! Leave the worries of your church behind and praise the King of Kings and Lord of Lord for whom you planted a church in the first place! You need to be filled. You need to be renewed. You need to have your awe of Jesus rescued. Engage!
4. CELEBRATE DON'T COMPARE
When you hear of what God is doing in the lives of other church planters, don't be so quick to compare your results to theirs. Celebrate what God is doing in their ministry. Praise God for how God is moving in their context. Be encouraged that God is at work in places other than your own! Be happy for another church planter's fruit as you would want them to be happy for yours!
As you've heard before, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Don't allow the beauty of what God is doing in other church plants to rob you from the good that God is doing in your church plant.
Also, one more thing, don't feel the need to "one up" anybody with your stories of what God is doing in your ministry. It's tacky.
5. MOVE DON'T MOLESKIN!
Knowledge is useless unless its applied! The last thing you or your church plant needs is for you to have another notebook filled with notes from workshops and messages you've yet to apply to your actual ministry! Take notes? Absolutely. But more importantly, be on the lookout for the one or two things that the Holy Spirit is leading and convicting you to apply immediately following the conference!
Before leaving the conference, write down the one or two things you commit to do as a result of attending the conference in the next 30 days.