Posted by: naccm | November 17, 2010

Create Your Own Conference – Tim Hawkins

The past few days have been filled with AMAZING conversations and insights.  I’ve heard great speakers, sat in on amazing Q&A sessions, drank some fantastic coffee and learned from strangers.

By tomorrow I will have spent the past 5 days with two ministries I respect a ton…a kind of personal conference.  In addition to valuable insights, I’ve seen them in action.

Definitely the best $400 I’ve spent to learn from people IN THE MIDDLE OF MINISTRY than talking about it at a conference.

Here are 6 things to consider for a great do-it-yourself conference experience…

1.  Know what you want to learn – It is very difficult to observe a ministry and ask relevant questions if you do not have a clear idea about what you want to take away.  Here is what I wanted to learn on this trip, “How does what you are passionate about as the leader of this ministry impact points of discipleship in your ministry?” This will have a huge impact in deciding which leaders and ministries you want to visit, and keep you from wasting people’s time (including your own).

2.  Plan with a purpose – Plan your trip when you can see the ministry in full swing, especially when you can participate in the things you want to learn.  If you leave your intentions open-ended, you are likely not going to see what will be helpful for you in the end and you leave the host(ess) guessing at your intentions.

3.  Don’t be a Burden – You will be…so minimize your impact.  Most campus ministry folks I know are glad to have you around if they aren’t spending most of their day taking care of you.  Be ready to find your own place to stay and/or rent a car.  My conference is costing me about $400 including a car rental = great return on investment.

4.  Go Beyond the Leader When/If Possible– You may be compelled by a particular leader, but likely that person will have limited time, and some of your best insights are not from the leader, but how that leader is influencing those around them.

Which leads into #5…

5.  Respect – As a guest, you are there to listen and learn, not to be a distraction or disruption.  Don’t go beyond what you are invited into.  If you want to talk with someone, even guests, ask those who have invited you into their space if they mind before jumping in.  AND…NEVER offer how their ministry could do things better!  I know that seems like it goes without saying, but sometimes those things need to be said!  Likely, they have given this more thought, prayer and tears than your 24 hrs of insight.

6.  Application NOT Replication – I’ve seen a dozens things I love about these ministries and wish we could do.   Even if I were the same kind of leader as those I’ve visited (which I’m not), we are still about 20 years behind those ministries developmentally.  My times of reflection have brought me back to two things that are take-aways from the entire experience rather than direct replications of elements of these ministries/leaders.

7.  Gift of Gratitude – Take something with you from your University or another creative gift to give to your host(s) that expresses your appreciation for their investment in you and the ministry lead.

This was the inaugural Hawkins Conference, and I look forward to hearing the line-up for the next one.

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