Me and the Mrs. Were able to travel Granger, IN last week and attend the Innovate Conference. Just like most conferences it felt like we were drinking from a fire hose.  There was so much great stuff to process so I am gong to do a little mind dump here for myself and for those who care to read…

  • In my mind I have been to the Mecca of all conferences (Catalyst). I assume that smaller more local conferences will not be as great or as big of a deal.  That was the first thing that caught me off guard about Granger. There were under 1,000 people there but the production level and excellence was so great that you could put it in an arena with 10,000 people and nothing would need to change. Not even the amount of screens:)
  • Most conferences to a fault are talking head conferences.  You are taught and you take notes and that is awesome but by the end no matter who someone is or how good they are you can tune out.  Sometimes at these events they will bring in a fire truck or elephant to wake you up and change things up but it can be gimmicky stuff that doesn’t teach you.  Innovate used creative ways other than talking head speakers (video, worship, creative planning, drama, etc. to teach and stay on point and still inspire me the attendee.
  • SESSIONS 1-Mark Beeson shared in the opening session about the importance of leading a team.  He shared that they have the gifts and your only job is not to keep work from them but to champion the vison and values.  He shared a bio of one specific team he leads.  This really resonated with me as I thought about my team. I lead a team with a police officer, a dog trainer, a corporate bank employee, some stay at home moms, college students, A food company executive, a nutritionist, a property manager, A church asst., and a project manager.  I missed a few jobs, but you get the point…teams have various personalities, gifting, experiences, and passions.  Everyone who comes to you has some sort of momentum but you have to make sure it is moving with the team where you are going and not another direction even if it is only slightly difference. We have to put our energy into unifying them and keeping a ministry on target.
  • SESSION 2-Tim Stevens talked through worship experiences and planning that are original or recycled. He said that sometimes we see churches copying another or we see others that are so original and we get jealous, proud, or caught up in the whole thing.  The only question should be ”IS THIS EFFECTIVE IN THE CONTEXT OF OUR CHURCH?”  You don’t have to ask what are the new cool sermon series’ being named. You don’t have to ask did do this song yet. IT IS SIMPLY A QUESTION OF EFFECTIVENESS.
  • Sidebar: I think I mentioned this on here before but man is staying with Jeremy and Ginger Byng great. I got to see the Wednesday night ministry at their church as well as take in the middle school and high school evening. PS-Ginger is an awesome cook.
  • Something else that was awesome at Innovate was that the schedule allowed for breakout sessions and Q and A times with staff members. The first session Kristin and I chose to attend the student ministry one. It was great because they had like 5 staff members there. I could ask someone who is doing planning on a larger scale than us how they dream up a series, and I could talk to their small groups girl and ask about shepherding a group that is big.  You can always find someone doing something bigger and better than you but to be able to have their attention around a table with 1 2-1 staff ration is price less. I also left feeling pretty good at where we are as a high school ministry.
  • Something that was awesome for a session was the Creative Arts Mash-up. They gave 4 churches who are knows for being creative one verse (Phil 3:2) and just told them to fill 15 minutes creatively communicating that. There were funny videos and cover songs from a suburban church, there was dancing, and rapping from a hip-hop church, there was rock and comedy from a 20-something church, and a take home for everyone there from a new church.  This idea was great because I learned and was inspired by other creativity. I could work for the next year to steal and work off of the ideas I saw in this one session from 4 churches.  Not talking head teaching, but I learned and furiously took notes.
  • For my breakout session I went to Leading Change with Tim Stevens.

Here are his steps for Leading Change

  1. Make the case for change
  2. Make the decisions for change
  3. Create an urgency for change
  4. Implement the change
  5. Communicate the church (25% of the process is the change, 75% is the communication)
  6. Manage the change
  7. He also mentioned that change is good and can creative momentum, you must always have the meeting before the meeting with the influencers, you have to remember you always have a bucket of gas or water to throw on every sitatuion, and with big change you must have all hands on deck.
  • Shannon O’Dell shared his story of working in rural America. He took a church of 31 people and than lost 12 of them in a town of 88. That church is not 5 campuses and over 2,000 people in a county of only 19,000 . It connected with me since I am from the metropolis of Sterling, OH.  He talked about calling, your marriage, the waves a church makes in the community being more important than the size, and structures being important.
  • The conference was closed with communion in a very creative way that I think is tradition at Granger but was new and refreshing to me. I can’t say enough about the worship and media used.  They do this every week, but it was great to see.  There band was top notch and in some sets had as many as 4 worship leaders on stage.
  • SESSION 8- Mark Beeson closed the conference by first praying for everyone there in a very personal humble way for such a great crowd.  This church realy knows how to host and care for people.  Later Beeson shared the 5 stages of innovation.
  1. People deny that innovation is required.
  2. People deny that the innovation is effective
  3. People deny that the innovation is important
  4. People deny that the innovation will justify the effect required to adopt it
  5. People accept and adopt the innovation, adopt its benefits, attribute its success to anyone but the innovator, and pretend steps 1-4 don’t exist.
  • The programming was great at this conference there are some other ideas I am not mentioning and including humor which I think is often lost in Christian circles.
  • The price was great, the drive was short, and experience was awesome and I would wholeheartedly recommend that anyone attend this conference.  Obviously it has a specialty of sorts. It is no Piper conference, but if you are looking to be innovative and creatively present your message at your church I don’t think you will find a better conference.

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