This is a post that I originally wrote a couple years ago for Kidmin1124.com. I am still a big fan of these smaller, regional conferences. Read the reasons why below.
A couple weekends ago I attended the Chosen conference, in Fort Myers, FL. This was not a huge conference full of presenters that you would know. There were not hundreds of people in attendance. It was not put on by a big, international children’s ministry organization. On top of that it only cost $12. How good could the conference really be?
Before I go any further let me say that I have not been to any of the big, national conferences. So, I can’t do a comparison, but I can comment on the value of this conference.
I first attended this conference last year and couldn’t wait for it to come again. While there were not a lot of well known speakers, the keynote speaker each ear was someone you would know; Michael Chanley last year, and Amy Dolan this year. The chance to hear each of these people speak was worth the price of admission. However, even without them, the conference would have been more than worth the 3 hour drive and the cost. I have long believed that there is a wealth of children’s ministry knowledge in our own churches. The Chosen conference proved this to be true. Each time I have attended this conference I have walked away with pages of valuable notes. I also walked away with numerous new contacts and friends. In fact this year after driving 120 miles for the conference I was put in contact with a guy 20 miles from my home that is doing something at his church that I have been dreaming of starting at mine.
So, Are Regional Conferences Worth It? YES! Especially for the readers of this site. As volunteer or bi-vocational children’s ministry leaders many of you may not have a budget that includes money for one of the big conferences. These can easily cost $1000 or more by time to include registration, lodging, travel and meals. This is more than some of our churches can, or are willing to, spend. However, I paid only $150 total to attend this conference. My wife has family in that area so we saved some money by not having to pay for lodging, but you can see that this is still much less than the big conferences. Now I am not knocking the big conferences. There are things to be experienced and learned from the big conferences that you probably won’t get from a regional conference. But, imagine for a minute being able to take your entire team. Imagine the energy that your children’s ministry could have if every person serving children in your church has had this opportunity to attend a conference.
Trust me when I say YES, regional conferences are worth it. If you are in or around Fort Myers, Florida then I highly recommend that you look up the Chosen conference and plan to attend next year. If you are not in this area, then begin looking for a conference in your area.