Are Regional Conferences Worth It?

Matt Norman —  April 6, 2012

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.

Matt Norman

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Matt is married to his high school sweetheart Kim and together they have two wonderful kids. Matt is a part time children’s pastor at The Rock of Winter Haven, in the appropriately named town of Winter Haven, Florida. In his spare time Matt is an avid automotive enthusiast and a self confessed computer nerd and tech junkie.

12 responses to Are Regional Conferences Worth It?

  1. I definitely agree. I love regional stuff (though they rarely happen in my region). What I wish is more of the regional conferences would realize their value to volunteers and be on Saturdays instead of during the week. Alas, they still often market themselves to full time people. Maybe that will change with the Kidmin1124 conference.

  2. I agree. The conference that I referenced here was on a Saturday and was specifically aimed at volunteers. I am dreaming and praying about the idea of regional Kidmin1124 conferences aimed specifically at volunteers in kidmin. Help me in praying about this. Obviously it won’t happen in the next couple months, but who knows what God might do in the next year. Maybe a Kidmin1124 conference will be coming to a region near you.

    Matt N.

  3. The Kidmin1124 conference. I like the sounds of that. No doubt one Jared Massey would be our keynote speaker!

    Here’s a quote from Spurgeon that I think we ought to hang over the entryway:

    “If you want big-souled, large-hearted men or women, look for them among those who are much engaged among the young, bearing with their follies, and sympathising with their weaknesses for Jesus’ sake”

  4. YES-TO REGIONAL CONFERENCES!!!

    The idea to bring your whole team and keep it under $30 a person is what drives me to provide CULTIVATE, a four track, one day training event for the ministers of Indiana.

    It has been an amazing journey. We’re entering our third year. Matt, feel free to contact me and I will share ALL my secrets with you as you pray about launching your dream.

  5. I totally agree!! I am part of a local CM network that hosts the Engage Conference (www.engagechildren.org) We are having Sue Miller return again as our keynote speaker and provide close to 40 workshops, a resource center with lots of cool stuff. We do a few hours on Friday and Saturday workshops with the cost under $30 a person this year including lunch!
    We are trusting God for 500 people to come to the South Central PA area and be blessed!
    For us we believe providing this conference encourages those who quietly volunteer each week. The true unsung heroes! We want to bless them and let them know we stand with them!
    I totally support regional conferences. I cannot afford to go to CPC or KidMin or Orange every year, they all basically average around $1000-1500 with travel, hotel, food. So helping people get the training they need for $30 is awesome!

    • Tom – I have been looking for something for our volunteers to be able to go to and your Engage looks like a possiblity. Can you email me with more details about what last year’s workshops, etc – maybe this is something I can present to our Pastor. Bless you and bless the Holy Spirit for guiding me here.

    • Tom. Thanks for your reply. It is awesome to see that there are already a number of these kinds of conferences already going on around the country. Shoot me an email. I would love to be able connect with you as I look towards putting on events like this in the future.

      Matt N.

  6. I could not agree more! Our network puts on a regional conference each year and it has been a great success. We have about 150-200 in attendance and our cost is about $30.00. We have started a Friday Night Ministry Showcase to let attendees see snippets of what is going on at our different churches and of course a dessert buffet! For Saturday we utilize folks in our churches and para-church organizations to present workshops and our keynote was a local pastor. It was a blessing to everyone!

  7. Cathy Detherage April 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I was blessed this year, because of the generosity of an anonymous friend, to be able to attend the INCM Childrens Pastor Conference and I have to say it was fabulous. I also attend our state childrens ministry conferences every year. I think I get different things from them. The big conference has big ideas for big ministry staffs but a lot of the concepts can be translated to smaller churches. The state and regional conferences provide a more intimate setting for discussion and sharing of ideas.

    I am in my 36th year of kids ministry, never able to be full time. I started very young and very green. I still learn something from EVERY conference I can attend. I hope I also have something to offer to others at the conferences. To all childrens ministry workers…take advantage of every opportunity to learn and to network with other kids ministry workers. It is ALWAYS worth the time and cost. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing. When I wrote this article I had never attended one of the big ones, but I am sitting in an airport right now about to board a plane headed to Atlanta for the Orange Conference. I am super excited.

      Stay tuned this site for posts about my experiences and some great stuff from Tonya Langdon who is following the special needs track.

      Matt N.

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