…Least Likely to Impact You and Your Ministry, But Most Likely to Bore You Silly and Pretty Much Waste Half a Day. No, that really wasn’t the name of the conference I attended today, but it could’ve been.

I usually get something – even if it’s a little something! – out of every conference I attend, and actually I got something out of this one. But overall, I don’t think it’ll rank right up there with the greatest learning experiences I’ve ever had.

First, the good…

  • The price: You can’t beat FREE, no matter how you slice it! Our local association does a pretty good job of putting these things together from time to time, and the fact that they do something like this at no charge is to be commended.
  • The eats! Sausage, country ham, biscuits, nuts, cheese thingies, muffins of all kinds, Starbucks coffee, juice, and “Miss Janice’s” blueberry cheesecake pie…Yes! Yes! YES!
  • The fellowship: I know that word gets thrown around and misused, but it was good to get together with a bunch of guys and gals that are looking to learn.

Now, to the conference itself…

My buddy and everyone’s new favorite golden boy and leadership guru blogged about the conference. He didn’t include any of the material, so I will (thanks to my trusty little notebook!).

Here are the 12 Trends presented today…

  1. The Decline of the Open-Ended Small Group. Our presenter said he wasn’t necessarily advocating a return to the traditional Sunday School model. Funny, it sure sounded like it to me. He did make some pretty good – though maybe unintentional – points about the value of getting folks involved in a worthwhile small group experience.
  2. The Single Most Correlative Issue in Evangelistically Growing Churches: The Pastor’s Personal Evangelistic Involvement. He talked about how important and vital it is for pastors to intentionally share their faith – not just for the not-yet-believers but for the pastors’ spiritual health as well. Pretty good stuff here, except I got the sneaking suspicion that the vast majority of those attending the conference would neither (a) be very comfortable at all with spending any significant time with unchurched folks, nor (b) be very hip to their pastors “neglecting the church” to do so. Of course, we had the obligatory “witnessing on an airplane” story – this time, including George Foreman’s personal encouragement!
  3. A Growing Receptivity to the Gospel. According to our presenter’s statistics, just about 4 in 10 unchurched people in the U.S. are “receptive” or “highly receptive” to the gospel. Their biggest obstacle to coming to faith in Christ? “No one ever invited me to church or showed me how to become a believer.”
  4. The Emerging Church Phenomenon. Did you know that there are only two major spokesmen for the “emerging” church? Dan Kimball and Brian McLaren. One is “orthodox” and one has “left the building” of evangelicalism. Guess. No…go ahead! Guess! Our presenter predicted that Dan Kimball will more than likely “declare a schism” in the emerging church movement, probably within the year, and move to break all ties with Brian McLaren. Interesting. The emerging church is anti-megachurch, anti-seeker-sensitive, anti-almost-everything. Our presenter recommended D.A. Carson if we really want to get a handle on the emerging church phenomenon, which all of us will be addressing from our pulpits this year.

Stay tuned…more to come…