5 Tips when Attending a Christian Conference
This weekend I am thrilled to be attending The Gospel Coalition's Women's Conference. Having attended the last year's National Conference, I was deeply encouraged by some of the outstanding and godly speakers, deeply convicted about things and returned to my local church refreshed to continue the work the Lord has called me to do. After attending, here are a couple of practical tips and encouragements I'd like to share for the next Christian conference you attend.
1. Attend a Conference to Bless and not Consume
Even though you may be taking a well-needed break full-time ministry/motherhood/work/life, nonetheless, be of a mindset to go to serve, bless and encourage as opposed to merely consume. It's easy to get into a mindset to go into a conference that you have paid for with an expectation that volunteers, venue and hotel staff and speakers are there to serve you. No!
You are gathering as family members bought by the blood of Christ; reach out to the person you're sitting next to in the conference. Be extra wonderful to the barrister who is making the 300th non-fat decaf late, love and honour the speakers who are serving and blessing your with their insight, energy and wisdom, thank the volunteers and the staff, room attendants and house attendants who are serving hard to make the conference run smoothly. Leave the vicinity you gathered in, the room you slept in, and the restaurant you ate at in a better state than before you arrived.
2. Let your Reasonableness be Known to Everyone
As an ambassador of Christ, represent Him well, especially in a conference like The Gospel Coalition Conference where the staff and community know you are a Christian.
I've worked in the hospitality industry for nearly five years now, and have had many groups use our facilities. It only takes a small handful of poorly behaving individuals to leave a bad reputation in the minds of staff and the local community. Worse still, working at a resort, when a conference group gets a bad reputation, locals and employees find it far too easy to tar the whole group with the same brush.
Even though you might be frustrated, tired, or wronged in the hotel, conference centre or even the nearby businesses and restaurants, let your reasonableness be known for the Lord is near, and the Lord has a call on your to make the gospel known, not your temper.
3. Engage with the Exhibitors and Speakers
Engage with the speakers by taking notes, actively listening and asking the Spirit to reveal, convict and exhort you. Take the opportunity to thank your workshop speakers, don't forget that they need and value encouragement too.
Engage with the leaders at the TGC Exhibitor Hall, they might not be giving any talks, but they have incredible stories and experience of God working in and through their ministries. Having served and led a youth ministry, I was super stoked to have touched based and exchanged stories and testimonies with other leaders in youth ministry. They are great people to encourage and be encouraged by and are eager to help equip you with anything that God has called you to.
4. Be in Community with Each Other
You are designed to function best in a community as God is in a perfect community with Himself.
If you did not bring a friend to hash out, pray with, and debrief over that convicting and exhorting message, then reach out and make a friend with someone, and make plans to hang out in your free time. Or if you already bought a friend or are attending as a group, why not keep a look out for those who are attending own and make friends?
There's nothing quite as wonderful as reaching out to get to know, pray with and be honest and vulnerable with a brother or sister from the other end of the country or world. One of the more incredible thing about Christian conferences like The Gospel Coalition's National or Women's Conference is that you're gathering with other like-minded and intentional leaders from around the world. You get to exchange stories, compare notes, encourage one another and learn about how God is working in other parts of the world.
5. Plan to eat and sleep
Believe it or not, being dependant creatures, we function far better when we are nutritionally sustained and physically rested.
Restaurants and cafes around the conference gathering spaces will inevitably get packed in your break and lunch hours, and finding something to eat to keep your brain optimally functioning for the next speaker can be challenging. Make sure you pack some clean and crumb-free snacks for emergency as well as some hydration options.
BONUS. Pack Some Room in your Bag
You will want to most likely want to take home the whole bookstore along with all the other incredible resources and free materials available at the TGC Exhibitor Hall and Bookstore. Pack light and leave some room in your bag for books; leaders are readers! ;)
Have you attended a TGC Conference before? Any tips you would like to add? Let me know!