By Rev. Robert Rynders, City Square Church
For the past two years, The LEAD Conference has been held in Las Vegas, NV and has been a time where leaders, innovators, and creators from within the UMC and beyond have come to learn, dream, and create together. LEAD has primarily been based around speakers, selected through an application process, who are offering new and innovative ministries, particularly (but not exclusively) with the millennial generation. These speakers are presented in a less than 18 minute “TED” talk format where they’re asked to give a talk on a big idea or insight related to ministry in The UMC.
LEAD will return January 26-29, 2014 to Phoenix, AZ at The Clarendon Hotel, and will see some changes in format from past years. This year, LEAD 2014 has no speaker application process. In fact, everyone who registers will be a speaker or presenter in some way. When the first couple of waves of participants registered, they were asked to tell us one or two topics they could potentially offer a talk on. In December, registered participants voted on the list of all the topics that were submitted, ranking a limited number of topics that they want to hear about. The 16 participants whose topics received the most interest were then invited to be main stage speakers. Topics with less participant interest will be presented in smaller breakouts or even in more casual formats and settings, like an informal conversation in a local coffee shop or a late-night talk in the hotel bar.
We’ll also be experimenting with integrating local non-religious community and business leaders into LEAD 2014. There will be opportunities for participants to explore local businesses, restaurants, and community spaces, meeting with local leaders, creatives, and innovators to get insight into their leadership lessons and their visioning and creative processes. We’re also excited to welcome four dynamic and creative musicians who represent various UMCs from around the country to lead us in worship throughout the conference.
The goal of this year’s conference is not to provide a manual of best practices for people to take back to their ministry settings and replicate. We want to allow our thinkers to think new and innovative thoughts, our creatives to create to their fullest potential, and our dreamers to dream big. At LEAD 2014, everyone will have space to share, then experiment with even the craziest of ideas.
If you’re interested in joining us at LEAD 2014, registration is still available at www.relevancelead.com. Hotel accommodations, however, will need to be made on your own. Registration ends on January 25th.
Even if you can’t make it, or think LEAD is a terrible idea, my hope and prayer is that we can create space at all levels of the Church to explore the dreams, visions, ideas, and creative potential that God has given all of us.