We have completed reviewing the surveys of this year's Missional Ministry Conference, which we hosted on March 25-26 in Norman, OK. It was a great conference this year and J.D. Greear and Alvin Reid did a superb job as our keynote speakers. Our video team has been editing the videos for us, and they just about have them all done. I'll start posting the videos here on the blog, and they will also be available on the Missional Ministry website, www.missionalministry.net.
Something that I do not often go into is some of our philosophy behind the Missional Ministry Conference. Among the conferences done by state conventions, I believe that the MMC is one of the more unique meetings that is done. Since we just completed our fifth MMC, let me share some of the philosophy behind what we are trying to accomplish through the conference.
First, we really try to create an informative, seminar style setting. We arrange the room we use for the large group meetings in a fan shape and around tables. Until we grow to the point that we have to lose the tables and sit in rows (ugh!), we'll keep this arrangement. The tables make it easier to take notes. Also, using tables encourages community and sharing. It also gives church staffs the opportunity to sit together and share ideas between sessions.
Second, "we are who we are"… and we don't apologize for it. Yes, the music is going to be edgy and maybe loud for some folks. Others love it! The speakers are probably going to say some things that you may not agree with entirely. In fact, we hope they do! Every year I have several people share with me after the conference, "Bob… thanks for bringing (insert name here) to the MMC. He stretched my thinking and I needed that." We do not try to play it safe at the MMC. Also, we are not trying to make everyone happy. That's impossible anyway. But at the same time, our team will look at the evaluations very carefully. We often find some great ideas in the evaluations, and we also realize sometimes that we goofed up on something too!
We try to keep the cost as low as possible. This year's Early Bird Rate (about 75% of attendees) was $85.00. Registration fees for other conferences similar to the MMC are often two to three times that amount. Of course, we use some CP money to help subsidize the MMC, and we are not trying to turn a profit. We're very successful on that last point!
As we have developed the MMC, we have gradually moved toward offering something for leaders of the major age groupings and ministries we find in our Oklahoma churches. We value the interaction of each group, and we also have begun to understand the value of getting the leaders of church ministries involved in the missional dialogue together. This opportunity that church staffs have to get away from the office and find breakout sessions designed specifically for them has become a valuable part of the MMC.
Finally, we view the MMC as an opportunity for those pastors and leaders in Oklahoma who want to be missional in their communities to gather together, network, learn, and be inspired. This last MMC had a very broad spectrum of people in attendance. We had leaders whose churches are on the edge of missional ministry, some leaders who want to learn how to lead their church to be missional, and some others who are checking the "missional" thing out. We had young leaders sporting soul patches and some leaders wearing a crown of gray hair. During one of the sessions, I realized that about 10% of the conferees were Native Americans!