I attended the first session of the How2 conference tonight in Beaverton. I showed up about 6:45 pm, 15 minutes before the conference began due to a busy commute after work. Upon arrival I was greeted by a very friendly hostess who helped me to check in and then promptly gave me a bag full of How2 tools containing all of the content from the general sessions and workshops of the conference. My jaw dropped. I was not expecting that, given that my attendance was sponsored by the very gracious and generous folks at Group Publishing. I had expected simply to attend and learn what I can, rather than also have access to all of the resources. Thank you, Group! And a special shout out Christine Yount Jones as well. I know they don’t do it for the accolades, but I wanted to say something for two reasons: full disclosure and also gratitude.
Rather than give a blow-by-blow detail of everything that happened tonight (and there is much that happened), I want to offer my observations regarding the overall experience. This is partly because I am very tired, and partly because I do not want to spoil the surprise for those who will attend another How2 experience in the near future.
I will say this. It was fun. It was engaging. It prompted participants to think through their own ministry situations so that they can gain a picture of the state of their children’s ministry. It offered an opportunity to interact with team members concerning their ideas and opinions. For those of us who attended solo, we also were brought into groups with each other. Those who brought teams interacted with each other. The small group interactions were well suited to help teams bond and learn together. My only quibble is that the pew seating arrangement did not lend itself to easy small group interaction. I think small round tables or even chairs set in groups of circles would have made it easier for small group interaction. Indeed, small tables were available, but they chose to hold the general session in the sanctuary in order to take advantage of its technological capabilities for video, powerpoint and sound.
One of the things I appreciate about Group in terms of their curriculum and conferences is that they emphasize active learning. The learner should experience the concepts in tangible ways in order to better internalize and apply them. The presentation was designed to model this philosophy and the presenter, Dr. Denise Muir-Kjesbo, pulled it off brilliantly.
Dr. Muir-Kjesbo and I met a year ago last March at the 2008 Northwest Ministry Conference. She spoke on Five Models of Family Ministry. I was able to share with her tonight that her workshop was very helpful as I launched into my dissertation research. She seemed pleased at this and was very gracious when we spoke before her presentation.
There is one other item of special note. People have come from all over the northwest to attend this conference. I estimate about 100 attendees were present. I personally met a group from Crescent City, California, and another from Kent, Washington.
Group is known for offering polished, high octane conferences which feature cutting edge content in a relevant presentation. So far, they have met this expectation. From their marketing to their resources, from their ability to make people feel welcome to their preparation of high quality content, Group does not disappoint. This is not to say they are perfect. It does mean that the relatively high price they charge for this event is justified in quality of content, full resource support for the first registrant from each church, and high quality delivery of the conference experience.
I will post more tomorrow night after the conference concludes. I encourage you to consider attending the next How2 event in your region. You may find your children’s ministry transformed in a revolutionary way if you and your team launch yourself into the experience expectantly.