Napkin Conference: Great Networking Opportunity

Just over 200 people attended Napkin 2o1o. They came from Australia, South Africa, Canada, and all over the USA. Over 200 like-minded children’s ministry leaders came to participate in a conference in which they were just as important as the several keynote speakers. And the benefits showed throughout the two days of sessions.

People poured out their hearts to each other, brainstormed together, prayed, cried, and laughed together. And that was just during the many opportunities which the presenters provided for small group interaction. Brilliant.

Other conferences I have recently attended have attempted to foster small group interaction, but with varied results. I now know why. Physical setting. If you have people sit in pews or chairs which are faced forward toward a speaker in the front, then it will be harder to implement small group interactions. But, if you follow Napkin’s example (or the example of any one of the many local children’s ministry networks around the USA), simply set up round tables with several chairs at each and watch the interaction happen organically.

Sure, it helps to give people relevant material with which to interact, but if the physical setting is not conducive to interpersonal exchanges, then it will present an environmental impediment to networking and mutual encouragement.

Tomorrow, I will begin sharing some insights I learned while at Napkin. In the meantime feel free to navigate over to Greg Baird’s brand new website,  where he shares his Napkin Notes. He also has great resources on CM leadership available and is a great guy to consult with for your ministry situation. I regret we were not able to spend much time visiting, but I look forward to getting to know him better in the future. Below is a photo of the two of us together.


2 thoughts on “Napkin Conference: Great Networking Opportunity

  1. I think you may have nailed the effectiveness with your first comment “Just over 200 people attended Napkin 2o1o.” When we did our Kid U conferences with the Leadership Labs (and had Jim Wideman and Greg Baird and Ryan Frank in the past before the Labs) there is a level of networking difficult at larger conferences. I love small conferences. I’d love to be a part of Napkin – but in a word for me! The round tables IS a key but is simply difficult with large numbers. I think smaller conferences are a good balance for Kidmin leaders to attend. Glad you had a great time. Now, where is my napkin?

  2. Karl,

    Thanks for the input. I agree with you. I should have clarified a bit, realizing some did not attend the conference. I have been to small and large conferences myself. The Napkin conference had as many, if not more people (200+) in its sessions than most large conferences have in their elective workshop sessions. The difference is that we did not have separate competing elective sessions to choose from. We all experienced the same content at the same time. Typically, large conferences run around 50-150 people per session, sometimes less, sometimes more.

    My point was not so much the tables, but the intentional way in which Napkin and its presenters leveraged both the physical environment and the content of the presentations to facilitate small group interaction which flowed out of the large group presentation.

    I have also been to smaller conferences which did not achieve this at all.

    The reality is that even CPC could do it in one of its general sessions with 1,000 or even 2,000 in one room, and all the participants situated around tables. The dynamics would be much different, but it is possible.

    Regarding your napkin, I didn’t think to grab an extra one for you, but I bet if you contacted Justyn Smith he would send you a few. :) I have one or two, but they are all scribbled over with my dreams.

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