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  • I'm a creator, entrepreneur, author of DREAM YEAR, and aspiring novelist. My wife Ainsley and I live in Virginia Beach with our five kids Wyatt, Dylan, Cody, Annie & Millie

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Loved this Ben. Couldn't agree more.

This question comes out of curiosity not disagreement -- what do you mean by "struggle"?

7. Their benchmark is other church-run conferences


GREAT POST BEN! Proud of you for having the balls to write what needed to be said for a long time!

Ben, does anyone do this well?

What are the 4 groups of customers in your #10?

Great post-What are the 4 customer groups?

Nailed it! I'm not anti-conference, but rarely attend any anymore. So... where's it going from here?

Interesting post! I've often thought church buildings should be used more than a couple hours a week, and one natural use is midweek conferences. I have advised church builders on technical needs (wifi, casual space, sales space, more bathrooms,...) but I see you are pointing out the management and marketing challenges.

One question - what do you mean by "breaking rules"?

Excellent post. I, like Tim, am interested to know what you see as the 4 customer groups?

Great post, great reminder // would it not be best when a church wants to do a conference to partner with a for-profit team to pull it off...just a thought.

I've given up on conferences, thanks for verbalizing why. An hour or two with a guy whose getting the job done is way better use of resources.

Most conferences to me are like church camp for teens. Cost a bit too much, focus is on the benefit of the individual instead of community, too infrequent, sometimes fosters idolatry / jealousy, pushes people to a mountain-top experience where they often crash harder.

When I hear of things like Dream Year, I can't help but praise God for people like you Ben, who invest in the lives of others and realize how important personal mentoring is. Thank you for beating the odds.

What are the 4 customer groups?

i think it would be fair to note a few ministries/churches that absolutely kill it and do it well.

All men can't be first.

This post is pure wisdom Ben.

I'm also curious about the 4 groups.

Also, I've heard unofficially that there are currently 360+ church conferences per year. Do you know if this is true? If so, wow.


Steve, yes, that was a study conducted by Moody.

The four groups we recognize at STORY are:

1. Attendees
2. Sponsors
3. Volunteers
4. Speakers

John I did acknowledge the landmark churches that do "how we do church" events, which change based on flavor of the month

And Jason, struggling meaning attendance, influence and revenue to sustain the event over a long period of time

In the interest of conversation: Hillsong Conference might be an exception. As well as C3 conference in Dallas.

There does seem to be a lot of conferences anymore. And, I too, have felt like I don't get a lot of LASTING influence from those I have attended (and I think I've attended some good ones).

Recently, I've joined staff at my church to direct our efforts regarding children and families. I have been wondering if I should spend the time to go to a conference, but am not sure how to decide A) which ones are well done, and B) which ones will truly make a lasting difference in what I am attempting to establish. What are the criteria by which someone like me can decide whether to go or not (and which ones), OR what is a better way to connect with others on a one-on-one basis?

Personally, I'd rather develop some strong one-on-one relationships, but I am having a hard time finding other organizations willing to do ministry in new and creative ways. I am not interested in building the standard "church family ministry" because I don't think a lot of that has been working.

Thoughts anyone?


Hit a nerve? ;) You might as well be a neurologist, Ben. :)

BTW - I mean that in a very good way. When we find ourselves in a time and position such as this, nerves must be hit to make sure we're still alive and breathing. :)

Hmm...I would say Newspring's Unleash is an exception. Never been to C3 or Hillsong Conf, so I can't speak for those...

I've been to a lot of conferences, but not enough that are very different. Still though, my favorite is Drive, which is a church run conference and fits the "how we do church" label. But, that's probably because very few of the things you listed are true for Drive.

Ben, I would only pushback to say that Saddleback's PDYM conference was far better than & more helpful than the big Youth Ministry conferences I ever went to.
But, like stated, they may not have been able to sustain it. I'm not sure if they are even still hosting a conference.
It certainly was an interesting post. Thanks!

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