I didn’t know much about Acts 29 before I attended my first US West Conference in Reno, Nevada. I had just accepted a staff position at a church that was part of this network, but beyond that, I only knew of old news headlines and the first couple sentences of those articles. It’s not like I was sold on the network from the beginning. I assumed I’d roll into this conference, pick up the good stuff that was being thrown down, and get out. But then I attended a conference that was unlike any other that I’d been to before.
What made (and continues to make) the Acts 29 US West Annual Conference unique is what I experience as a two-fold commitment from the organizers and speakers to (1) shepherd me personally in my relationship with Jesus and (2) equip me with incredibly practical tools to promote the continued establishment and health of my church. I’ve always left the conference having done business with God in my own heart. Because former and current church planters lead the sessions, they know and speak directly into the struggles that I face as a current church planter. Men that have walked the path before me know the fears and insecurities of my heart, the pride and narcissism that can slip into my work, and the hopes and dreams I have for my city. So this conference provides a level of pastoral care that I long for each year.
Our church has also been shaped by gleaning from other churches in the network. Practical ministry tools come out through the general sessions, but much more so during the breakout sessions and connecting with other pastors during meals and downtime. The Annual Conference is a great place to grab a meal with people you’ve just met, and I’ve always been able to connect with guys outside of the conference sessions who’ve poured wisdom and insight into the life of our church. I’ve developed ongoing relationships with other planters that I’ve met at the conference who’ve let me know that their church is praying for our church plant.
The richest, ministry-altering experiences I’ve had at the conference have been when I’ve been able to bring a team of leaders with me from our church. The conference isn’t too overbearing in what it offers, and those who plan the schedule intentionally leave space for people to connect and debrief. Once the sessions and breakouts are finished each day, my team grabs dinner together, and we debrief the practical things that we learned that day. We always come back from the conference with healthy systems to put in place that we didn’t previously have. I know that the clarity of vision and plan moving forward in our church that I have with the rest of our leaders has been built on our experiences together at this conference each year.
I highly recommend creating space in your church’s budget to not only attend but to bring other leaders with you to this conference. You won’t regret the decision!
Acts 29 US West’s 2018 Annual Conference is April 30 to May 2 in Reno, NV. Register today!