Conference Crunch

My first year at Westminster I attended the Wee Kirk conference. My second year I attended that Festival of Homiletics. This year I have attended no conferences and I do not see anything on the horizon that I will be going to either.

Even with the Big Tent going on practically next door (Indianapolis, 4 hours away) I can’t see a good reason to get out there. The main problem is stewardship. I get a very small allowance for continuing ed and an even smaller one for books. Going to Cokesbury and getting three or four books wipes out my book allowance, going to one conference wipes out my continuing ed. Thinking about adding travel costs makes me curl into the fetal position.

So this year I made a decision, I put the continuing ed money into books and figured that conferences were not going to be a big part of my ministry here. I am pretty happy with the decision, after all most conferences I went to I enjoyed, but they did not change my life or faith. However, there is a part of me that feels like I am missing out. Things go on at those conferences behind the scenes. Conversations are had that help to shape the national discussion of what the church is. Stories are shared and friendships are made.

There are lots of great things out there that help small church pastors get to conferences, but it can still be prohibitively expensive, particularly if interstate travel is involved. Now though there are new ideas being spread around. Ideas like holding conferences on line. Webinars and twitter conversations. Blogs that are linked together with back and forth conversations.

Some of us who work within small churches feel the crunch when it comes to being involved on a national or even regional level. I hope that we will be able to keep looking for new ways to continue the discussion. One of those ways is going on right now with the We Are Presbyterian project. Check it out!


About collinwpc
I am the pastor of a small church in Columbus, OH. Over the past three years I have learned to give-up my pride and be a partner with my church, not a dictator. I am hoping to do the same here.

One Response to Conference Crunch

  1. John Lattimore says:

    Hey Collin!

    So I hope we are now contacts on Skype! I’m surpirsed it took you this long realize you’re not supposed to be the dictator at your church. After all, you’re from a small church. For me, I know I need to be the shepherd, servant leader of the congregation, but I think the catch is my normal behavior is more like the dictator model.

    I’m going to a Wee Kirk conference this fall, and I value continuing education. What I’m unsure of is if anything I done at continuing ed events will translate into programs or activities / worship changes at the church. Frankly, I want to see more Presbyterian churches actually partnering together in mission trips/revivals/community advocacy/etc. I think those promote the “connectional” nature of our churches more and give some meaning to congregants about what it means to be part of a denomination.

    Would like to hear back from you about that. Take care!

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