Here is an email that I sent to the staff at the end of 2008 regarding their development and continuing education. In light of the economy and our continual call to steward the resources God has provided, this might serve as a good reminder to us all. Hope this helps...
As you look forward to 2009 I realize that you are also wondering in what ways you can continue to grow and expand your knowledge/network base. I love that we have the opportunity to attend conferences, continue our education and relate to churches across the country. This is grace. As you plan for these times of stretching and refreshing, I am asking you to strongly consider the benefits of the conference to your ministry and growth. You need to be able to demonstrate why any particular opportunity is responsible and judicious regarding your time, church resources and the ministry. Here are some points to remember and questions to consider:
Not all conferences are made equal.
There are ways to grow beyond the popular conference slate. Conferences are likes booksvery few are actually worth reading (attending). The content is rehashed and marketed in a new way, but is lacking in provocative thought or depth. Sad but true.
How much time have you really invested in your decision to attend?
Oftentimes, we have not taken the time to search and really think through the best approach we should take for our development. Sometimes we need an outsider's voice to clarify options and help us see blind spots (weaknesses). Take some time to think through what would be best for you, the ministry and the church. Is this an opportunity to shore up some weaknesses, leverage some strengths, network or a combination?
Have you thought outside the box?
As you take time to think through options and the best route to take, make sure you are thinking outside the box. Is there a class you could take at a local school? Would a mission trip be a better way to widen your worldview than a seminar? What does the marketplace offer that is comparable? Should you take conference time to read two books in lieu of travelling to a conference? Should you visit a church that we have a relationship with and shadow them for a few days? What seminars or events do universities offer?
How can you best leverage your time while away?
Who is going with you? Is this opportunity best served with other members from your team? Should you invite a key volunteer? Are you attending an event in an area where you could also meet with a church and their leadership? Should you spend the downtime resting or should you seize the time to plan, process and produce? What experiences or opportunities are afforded to you via the area you are in?
I hope this is helpful. If you come across any brilliant ideas or opportunities please share them.
Love you all