We're convinced that one way we can be most helpful to you is to make sure that you have everything you need to be prepared for the 2017 Leaders' Summit. Aside from listening to the event playlist on Spotify, here are a few suggestions for how to prepare:
Before You Arrive
The most important thing you can do before attending the conference is to pray. Are we stating the obvious? Probably. But it’s the obvious things that are easiest to overlook.
- Pray that God would meet you in a unique way at the conference.
- Pray that he would impart refreshment and encouragement to you.
- Pray that he would revive your soul.
- Pray that God would invigorate you as a husband or wife, father or mother, leader, pastor, mom - whatever important role you fill.
Equally important, pray for those serving at the conference.
- Pray for the main speakers and the worship teams and the volunteer brigades.
- Pray that the y would be able to serve effectively, efficiently, and in the strength the Lord provides.
Here’s another thing: Turn off the information spigot before you arrive.
Sometimes we can be in a physically different location, but because we’re just as accessible we’re just as distracted. So do this...take strategic steps to build information barricades around the conference time before it even begins. Put your email on auto-respond, take a Twitter sabbatical, swear off Facebook — whatever it takes to keep you focused on God and what he may be saying to you.
During the Event
Four things to consider while you’re at the conference.
Receive humbly. Conferences present unique opportunities to learn from gifted people who are there to serve us. To learn from those who have specifically prayed and prepared to feed us. Assume that God wants to speak to you, and arrive expecting to hear. We’re not convening to grade messages and be entertained by personalities. We want to position ourselves to benefit from the gifts God has given to others. This starts with humbly coming to God to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your soul.” (James 1:21).
Serve joyfully. Often times, we attend conferences with a consumer mentality. We’ve paid the registration and we expect a product or experience. We come to a conference thinking only of what we will receive. This shouldn’t be the case. Scripture calls us to first approach each other with an attitude of serving, rather than being served (Matt. 20:28). So while at the conference, look for any and all opportunities to serve. Ask God to help you be others-focused, rather than self-focused.
Thank repeatedly. This conference in only possible because of an army of heroic volunteers. These amazing servants are spending hours and energy, without pay, to make it possible for us to come together. Make sure that the volunteers feel your deep gratefulness. Let this conference be marked by our gratitude towards others.
Think missionally. This conference is not simply about information transmission. This conference is about information propelling mission. Throughout the conference, ask God to help you connect what you are hearing from the pulpit to your own mission field back home. Also, consider that there will be folks from outside of Sojourn Network present. Greet them, reach out to them, share a meal with them, pray with them. Let the way we participate in the conference testify to the reality that Sojourn Network sees life and needs beyond Sojourn Network.
After the Event
Remember, conferences happen in a vacuum. For days you do nothing but listen to preaching, enjoy great worship, eat tasty food, hang with friends, and drink gallons of coffee you didn't have to prepare yourself. The moment you return home, all the cares and pressures of life immediately crash your party, like a tropical storm on your day at Disney. If you want to be a doer of the word, and not a hearer only, there are several things you must do when you return from the conference.
Create space. Set aside some time to prayerfully review the material taught at the conference. Give special attention to the particular areas God spoke to you. What are the one or two issues God pressed upon during the main sessions?....during the track you attended?...in times of fellowship? Give your attention and reflection to those issues.
Connect with others. In order for the content to gain traction in your life, you need to share what you learned with others. If your wife was unable to attend the conference, take an evening to share with her how God met you. Have a roundtable session with the other folks on your leadership team where you go through the material. Spend time with your elders, strategizing about how you might put what you learned into action. Think specifically about how to move the material from discussion to application.
Get back to us. We want and need your feedback. After the conference, please let us know how we can more effectively serve you. Let us know how we can make the conference better the next time. Remember, Sojourn Network exists to help pastors plant, grow and multiply healthy churches that last. If our conference doesn’t serve that goal, and doesn’t serve you...well then, it’s pointless. So let us know whether we hit the mark and how we can improve.
Preparation makes all the difference. Come prepared; go through the intensive prepared; and return home prepared. You won’t regret it.
See you soon!
— The Sojourn Network Team