After my first five or six ministry conference experiences, I'd come home totally exhausted and overwhelmed with the plethora of ideas and initiatives I'd gathered. It would take me weeks to digest it all and usually that idea that sounded so great at the conference simply didn't satisfy my ministry needs or fit my church's situation. After one such conference experience, I arrived home totally depressed and depleted. (That's quite another story, so I'll save for another post.) I ended up swearing off conferences for a few years. It was just too expensive and too exhausting... I was DONE!
As a result of my association with Group Publishing, in 2009 I was invited to attend the first ever LifeServe Conference and serve as an "Affinity Group" leader. All I had to do was gather with others in Children's Ministry several times during the conference and facilitate conversation.
Since talking and listening are two of my favorite activities, I knew I was up to the task. I like to find out what others are doing that's making a big difference in their communities. I enjoy meeting others that totally "get" me, and that's usually others in the trenches of Children's Ministry.
My experience as an Affinity Group leader was mind-blowing! I'll admit I missed a few sessions and workshops because I get involved in some deep discussions, but I'd found something to make my conference experiences more valuable than I ever imagined. I was making personal connections! Instead of gaining skills, I was learning from others with similar struggles and situations. As a bonus, I gained new friends to interact with, pray for and celebrate life with after the conference.
Group Publishing actually calls them "Connect Groups" now and they are a unique benefit at all of their Conferences - LifeServe, Simply Youth and this year's first ever, Kidmin Conference. I jumped at the opportunity to serve as the Children's Ministry Connect Group leader at LifeServe 2011 and the Rural Children's Ministry Connect Group leader at Kidmin2011. I hope and pray I'll be asked to lead again, but if not, I promise I'll be a Connect Group member!
Learn more about my experiences Leading "Connect Groups" in Insider magazine...