Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Workshops and conferences for bivocational and small church leaders

One of the things I enjoy is leading workshops and conferences for bivocational ministers and leaders of smaller churches.  When I served as a bivocational pastor I never felt that any of the workshops I attended were developed specifically for me and the church I served.  My hope at these events was that I could learn a principle, down-size it to fit our church, and our church benefit from my effort.  Sometimes that worked, and sometimes it didn't.  When my first book was published in 2000 I began receiving invitations from various denominational leaders to speak to their small church leaders, and I always enjoy these gatherings.

It's been fascinating to see how these leaders responded to the opportunity to attend a session devoted specifically to their needs.  In some cases, very few attended the session.  In fact, at one meeting no one showed up, and the sponsors and I returned to our motel rooms early that evening.  At other times there have been large turnouts.  The most remarkable story I heard came from a group of pastors I was eating lunch with one day in the midst of a day-long conference.  They told me they had driven nine hours one way to attend the meeting!  The next year their denomination invited me to lead the same conference at a setting near where these people were from, and they were back the second year.

The thing I enjoy so much about these meetings is the opportunity to speak into the lives of those who attend.  Because I served as a bivocational pastor for 20 years I understand some of the challenges and frustrations they face.  Along with the practical material I share with them, I also offer them encouragement and affirmation.  For some of them, the latter two are the most important things they receive from these meetings.

I currently offer several workshops and conferences.  Each of them have been developed for an all-day session (six hours), a half-day session (three hours), or for a workshop (one hour).  The titles I offer are

  • The Healthy Small Church  (My most requested one)
  • Transforming the Small Church from Maintenance-Minded to Missional
  • The Healthy Pastor: Easing the Stresses of Ministry
  • Bivocational Ministry for the 21st Century
  • Church Hospitality: Turning First-Time Guests into Disciples
  • Coaching Bivocational Ministers for Greater Ministry Effectiveness (This is primarily for judicatory leaders who want to use coaching techniques to assist their bivocational ministers.)
Each of these are based upon some of the books I've published and contain practical ideas that small church leaders can implement in their churches.  In every session I hear repeatedly from pastors that I must have visited their churches because I've described them perfectly.  There is not a lot of theory in these sessions.  Instead we focus on real world situations and offer solutions for how to best address them.

I have led these sessions for the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Churches, the General Baptists, the Atlantic Baptist Mission, the Salvation Army, the United Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Wesleyan Church, and at leadership conferences hosted by various universities.  If you feel that one of these sessions might be helpful to your bivocational and small church leaders, please feel free to contact me.  My 2014 calendar is filling up fast, but there are still some open dates this fall and winter, and it's not too early to be thinking about 2015.

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