Saturday, October 10, 2009

A weekend conversation in the autumn sunshine

I'm mid-way through a weekend conference with a church that is pastored by a friend from way back. It's going well.:Nnce people, good atmosphere, lively conversations - and the sun's shone today!

One of the most impressive things this church does is a Wednesday evening congregation with a group of mainly young homeless people. They seem to have created something that enables these guys to connect with each other and with God. To hear their stories is really moving.

The great thing about weekends like this is that we can spend a concentrated time looking at a particular issue. In this case, it's how we'll be missional disciples. It works better than trying to do this kind of thing over a number of weeks at church for two reasons.

The first is that everyone has come away from the daily grind and have relaxed. They are open to thinking new thoughts and seeing life from a different perspective - and have a whole weekend to think about it, talk it over, thrash it out - in between bouts of playing, laughing, eating and talking about all kinds of stuff.

The second is that the speaker - on this occasion, me - is able to deliver a sustained case for something without a week at work intervening between each episode so that the audience has forgotten three-quarters of what was said last week when they turn up this week.

The key, of course, to such an event being beneficial long term is follow-up. How do you do that? Answers on a postcard, please...


Ben Fairhall said...

May I assume that your question was not entirely rhetorical, and hazard a couple of answers?

In private blogs, message boards and e-mail lists, etc, technology clearly presents opportunities for long-term follow-up which didn't exist a few years ago.

But a more root-and-branch approach would be to promote any event as consisting of two parts: the weekend itself; and the (much shorter) 'Plus One' event held some weeks (or months) in the future. The purpose of the latter, as would be emphasised regularly throughout the weekend/conference itself, is to re-unite those taking part, and to draw together the combined experience of how their ministry (or personal faith) has deepened and developed since the original weekend.

In effect, we make the follow-up an integral part of the conference experience itself...

Anonymous said...

At my last church, weekends away at places like Pilgrim Hall happened on a bi-annually basis. An outside speaker was always booked and the encouragement and challenged we received cannot be matched! Since changing churches, to where no meeting together outside the church building is organised, I have struggled. You ask how to follow up. In my experience, the church that has organized the weekend away follows up. On a rolling programme where the same speaker would be booked to speak once ever five years there was some consistant contact with the church that you was a guest speaker at. Wouldn't it be great if BBC organized a weekend away!