Things can quickly become overwhelming in the “conference world.” People everywhere, exhibit halls filled with vendors trying to get your attention, so many seminars and speakers that you feel like you’re drinking out of a fire hose, brochures coming out of your ears, a conference book that is filled with so much information that you are bound to miss at least a few crucial things. But, when it’s all said and done there are a few things you can do to make your time meaningful. Here are 4 simple tips for attending a conference:
1. Keep it simple. Usually when you’re at a conference you’ll hear a theme. There is always a theme for the conference, but I’m not talking about that one. Typically you’ll notice a theme from seminar to seminar or conversation to conversation. All other seminars might not even mention the theme, but it’s clearly weaved throughout the one’s you attend. I’ve learned that this is the theme God working on you, specifically. Stick to that theme, keep it simple, push everything else aside, and go home and implement the theme God’s given you. Not sticking to the theme leaves you with a binder of notes you’ll never implement.
2. Develop a filter. Every speaker is there for a reason. Most have thought a ton about the subject their teaching on and have experience (hopefully) in that particular area. But, they don’t know your context, the people you work with, or the traditions you live in/with. Therefore, you have to develop a filter that would sift out the things that wouldn’t apply in your context – no matter how epic the thought might be. God’s called you to the context you’re in and you’re at the conference to be more effective in that context. So, the filter is necessary.
3. Stay humble. Every speaker has something to offer you and your ministry. Sometimes we can get frustrated because the seminar didn’t hit what we thought was important. We might even think we could do it better. This attitude shuts off our ears and inflates our mind. Ultimately, all this does is tune out what God was trying to teach us. As simple or basic as a seminar could be the truth is there is always something we can take away from it. Find that one thing and embrace it humbly.
4. Purchase carefully. Sometimes we go to a conference because we just need some time away, but usually we attend conferences because we’re hungry for some direction, training, and resources. And, oh man, we go into the resource center and everything looks good. We have the budget, so we just go crazy. If there are resources you think will be useful in ministry by all means buy them. But, just be careful to buy those that will actually be used. Far too many budgets are spent on resources still in the wrapper 12 months later.