If you were with us for Matter 15 there is nothing I need say, nothing I could say that would adequately express the experience. This post is for those of you who couldn’t join us.
And to tell you the truth, I hesitated even making the post at the risk of sounding self-congratulatory. But, frankly, I had so little to do with the overall success, this will only be congratulatory, not about me at all.
The conference really begins months ahead of time, commanding more and more of the attention of our parish staff and office volunteers, until really it is all that everybody is doing. As far as I could see, no design or detail fell below the mark of excellence.
Immediate conference preparation began on Monday, November 2 with a minister’s rally. We had about 150 members of our congregation serving throughout the event and they were definitely the stars of the show. And that was obvious at the rally where they were bubbling over with energy and excitement. Many took time out from other responsibilities, many took time off from work to come and work for us. Simple, selfless, flawless, meticulous service that pretty much amazed and astounded our guests.
By Wednesday, November 4 the place looked great, thanks to our Ops Team as well as the members of our Operations staff who worked very hard to transform our whole campus into a conference venue (and we used every inch of it, including the lawn opposite the church, which became a giant food court).
Wednesday evening early registration began and the enthusiasm of our guests was exciting for us, many of whom I met in the tent on our Terrace where we had a sort of pop-up bookstore and I hung out signing books.
Our guests seemed to come from every part of the country, New York to California, Minnesota to Texas, and everywhere in between. There were others from further field: Canada, Australia, Ireland, Poland, I met a lady from Luxemburg, and there was a delegation of a dozen people from Saltsburg, Austria.
Thursday morning we had an early morning countdown meeting with staff (such meetings were scheduled throughout the event to keep everyone on the same page) and then a minister’s rally and prayer in a behind-the-scenes tent that served as a minister’s lounge.
The main session began with an amazing video introduction by our amazing creative team that let everyone know, this would not be your usual church conference. Their contribution throughout the event was incomparable.
And then came the music: it was alternately uplifting and overwhelming, and it stayed that way till the last note the next day. Both our worship band and our student band deserve acknowledgement for outstanding music that did so much more than entertain, it moved people into worship.
Our MC’s were Chris and Kristin; Tom and Brian helped me out with the main sessions and our guest presenters were Chris Stefanick (a nationally known Evangelist and speaker), David Chrzan (Rick Warren’s Chief of Staff at Saddleback Church), and, via video, Rick Warren himself and Leadership guru Patrick Lencioni (both speaking exclusively to Matter 15). Each speaker brought such unique gifts and insights that it was truly a feast of wit and wisdom.
Most all of our staff hosted their own breakout sessions on every conceivable topic in parish ministry: children’s and student ministry, money, small groups, operations, creative-tech, preaching, missions, ministry, you name it. The most often asked question I got throughout the conference was, where did you get this staff?
Rebuilding our parishes is the work of repairing and restoring vision. Giving to staff and parishioners alike a vision for what God wants to do in and through our parishes. And that’s what our Matter conference was about. It was a great and grand time; as we all learned and grew together minds were changed and hearts were changed. And eventually parishes will change.
Thanks to all who participated in any way. At this point we’re not sure there will be a MATTER 16 because, if all goes as planned, we’ll be under construction here on our Ridgely Road campus this time next year. So stay posted.