Enroute to Northwest Ministry Conference…and back again so soon

After a long rest stop at work starting at 8 am where I will drive forklift, wrestle vinyl and carpet, and tackle sundry other heavy labor jobs until 6 pm, I will then depart for the Seattle area to attend the Northwest Ministry Conference (formerly Northwest Christian Education Conference) at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond. I return home on Saturday afternoon.

Due to an apparent overabundance of exhibitors wanting to speak in multiple workshops, I got bumped out of teaching a workshop this year. The conference leader graciously gave me a complementary ticket to attend, so I decided to head on up anyway. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones, all without the pressure to perform for a workshop or an exhibit booth. Instead I will attend a few select workshops and spend a lot of time networking and praying/thinking about current and future initiatives for my ministry context.

As time permits I will blog my thoughts on workshops I attend and helpful insights that arise out of my experiences. Most likely, the bulk of my blogging will be done when I return home, but I will try to post while there as well, using the complementary hotel computer.

If you plan to be at this conference please do look me up. I will be wandering around looked dazed and confused as always, but I frequently will drop by the Equipping Kids booth to make sure Brian and Peter are working (as opposed to stealing candy from the booths of other vendors). Yes, you can tell them I said that. :) See you in Seattle!


I am home from the conference. Actually I never made it in the first place. I arrived in Bellevue, checked into my hotel and then promptly took a serious fall outside as I was walking to my room. I am back in town and on my way to the doctor right now. It is very disappointing to miss the conference but I have a responsibility to myself and my employer to make sure I receive necessary medical care. So, there will be no blogging the conference this year. Maybe next time. :)

Day Two: Seattle Conference, Part 2

I just arrived home. The hour is late and I am tired. It was a wonderful day of networking. My workshops both seemed to go well. For those of you logging on to this blog from the Leading Change in Children’s Ministry workshop in Seattle, here is the link to my notes on the church lifecycle: Ministry Lifecycle.

I registered to be a user on coachnet.org. Jill VanderWal was very helpful in showing me the benefit of the site in terms of accessing great resources available to members.
The people with me in the photo are children’s ministry team members from the world’s largest Presbyterian church in Seoul, South Korea. I saw them in San Diego as well. They are very gracious. I truly enjoyed my time with them.
NWCEC is a great conference. I look forward to doing it again next year.

Day Two of Seattle Conference, Part 1

It is early, 6:18 am. I am still in the hotel. I have not left yet for the conference. This is the last day of my week of conferences, networking and workshops. I am ready to go home. I look forward to seeing the parents, workers and children of my church. I look forward to high fives, hugs, smiles and worship together. I look forward to being home.

I teach two workshops in the final two sessions today. My hope is to inspire, connect, encourage and inform.

I am staying at the Fairfield Hotel in Redmond. It is not a resort and it doesn’t pretend to be one. But I can tell you my stay here has been much more relaxing and hassle-free than the previous resort in San Diego.

In San Diego the Town & Country resort tried to charge me an additional $100+ for services I did not use. They eventually removed the charges only after I gently protested. It also nearly caused me to miss my shuttle to the airport. It makes me wonder how accurate their quality control systems are, especially in light of cabinetry which was falling apart in my room and the inability to check out from the room as they had advertised.

On the upside, most of their regular staff members were kind and helpful, for which I am grateful. So I have to wonder if the issues I cited above are more of a management problem. It is a good case-in-point for those of us leading ministries to consider carefully our systems, policies, procedures and quality control features so that we maximize our strengths and address our weaknesses.

And now a word from our sponsors….

I have noticed a theme of disconnect between sponsors and conference participants this week. Sponsors spend good money to reserve exhibit space and advertising time in the general sessions. Some attenders feel restless about the time allowed to sponsors, especially when specific sponsors choose to go over their allotted time frames. I think there is a little bit of mutual misunderstanding between the two parties.

Here is how I see it. In order to offset conference costs which are not covered by registration revenue, conferences must seek out advertisers. Generally, they do a good job of procuring advertisers who fit the theme of the conference. Attenders benefit with lower registration costs, access to expertise, new product offerings, conference discounts, working relationships, and so on. Sponsors benefit with access to new client prospects, name brand exposure, attainment of sales goals, and so on. Yet, the two sometimes are at odds.

Certain attenders think there should be less advertising. But are they willing to pay that price? Are they willing to pay double the conference fees? Triple? More?

I personally am an advocate for the exhibitors and sponsors because I appreciate that they take time away from their businesses to show us in one setting the wide variety of products and services which are available. Plus I get to talk to them face-to-face, sample their products, learn from their expertise, engage in dialogue in the arena of ideas for future products, and nurture ongoing friendships. For me, this is invaluable.

My point? Let’s cut them some slack and appreciate them rather than complain about their advertisements in the general sessions.

My suggestion to advertisers? If the conference asks you to stay within a specific time frame, then please honor that wish. :) It will endear you to the directors, other exhibitors and to conference attenders who are deciding whether or not to patronize your businesses.

Day One of Seattle Conference

I finished day one of the two-day NWCE Conference. The ladies with me in the photo are my friends from Drawing Water, a drama ministry in Redmond, Washington. You can check their website out at drawingwater.org. Bring them to your church. They do a terrific job!

It has been a terrific time of meeting up with a bunch of old friends and meet several new ones. I even got to dance in front of 3,500 people during the general session. Jana Alayra called me and several other men to the platform. I am told that the camera crew focused on me on the main screen because of my, erm, singular dancing style. :) It was hilarious. Yes, I know. I have no shame.

I attended Dr. Denise Muir Kjesbo’s workshop on Family Ministry: Exploring Five Models. It was an examination of biblical foundations for each, plus their practical outworkings and their respective strengths and weaknesses. This workshop alone made it worth the trip. I told her she needs to put it into some sort of print form. Notably, she pointed out that family ministry is still in its infancy and we do not yet know how it will eventually play out. This is confirmation to me that there is room for my voice in the conversation.

Seattle Conference

I just arrived in Seattle for the Northwest Christian Education Conference. I am exhausted so this will be short. I had a peaceful flight home from San Diego and a nice drive north. A good friend kept me company on the phone for much of the drive. I will have more time to blog at this conference since it does not run late into the night like CPC. We are done at about 4:30 pm both nights. :)