How many conferences have you been to in your life?  How many enacted real change?  Do you see a conference as an expense or as an investment?  If it’s merely an expense for you, then just go, sit around have a great time and then go back home to your usual.  But, I doubt many of us desire for a conference to be like that.  For most of us, when we go to a conference it’s because we are trying to make an investment in our lives and ministry.

I own an investment firm, and have for over 10 years now.  With an investment come expectations of a return for the risk taken.  For you, as you invest in going to the Verge Conference, the last thing you want is to waste your money and time.  So how do you ensure that you don’t waste your money and time, but it becomes an actual investment that bears returns for the money, time and emotional ups and downs that happens as you go to a conference of this magnitude?

Know Your Goals

With any investment, you have goals.  What are your goals for the Verge Conference?  Where are you or your ministry currently struggling that needs help and strengthening from an outside voice?   What has God called you to? What are your hopes and dreams for your life and ministry? These should line up with your current vision and mission statement for your church or ministry (if they don’t, think through what needs to change so that they do).

Take time to write out your vision statement and all the things that your ministry is currently doing to accomplish that vision.  What needs to be added? What needs to be enhanced? What needs clarifying? What needs to be possibly cut all together?  Where do you need guidance and insight?

After you’ve answered these questions, be very specific on what you want to happen as you are at the Verge Conference.   List out these goals, but don’t be vague.  Don’t say, “I want to learn more about the Bible.” A better goal would be, “I want to learn how I can effectively lead our people to disciple the poor in our inner city missional communities.”

Take time to share these goals with your leadership team and ask them for input and direction as well.  This creates shared leadership and also helps create accountability for your time while at Verge.   All goals aren’t created equal…so rank them in order of importance.   You want to make sure the most pressing questions and goals are addressed while at the Verge Conference.

Know Your Speakers

If you have your goals, Verge has the capabilities of helping you along with accomplishing your goals.  One of the best things about Verge is that you don’t only hear from speakers from the stage, but there is ample ways to meet with them at the UnConference meetings to discuss specific topics.  This is usually where people waste some money.  You’ve always wanted to hear someone speak because you’ve read their book or love their speaking abilities, but the topics they are covering won’t accomplish the very reason you came to the conference.   This is where the question of expense vs investment is answered.

If you see the Verge Conference as an expense, then just go to those people you want to hear speak.  If you see the Verge Conference as an investment, go to those speakers where their topics will accomplish your goals for coming to the conference.  Sometimes, this is the same…both the speaker you wanted to hear and the topic they are speaking on is exactly what you need.  Sometimes, they are not.   Be willing to learn about the topic you need to learn about MORE than the speaker that is speaking.

Know Your Schedule

If you want to, you can be listening and interacting with people almost the entire time you are at Verge.  It’s a real plus.  But, there are usually two types of people.  One type goes to some main sessions, get some good one liners to tweet and then gets in some good relaxation back at the hotel or at the pub.  Good on ya…you see the Verge Conference as an expense.

Others spent good money and they go to everything and wear themselves out.  They are sitting in the seats listening but they completely burn themselves out.  Verge gives out a schedule for a reason.   Look at your goals and look at the topics.  Mark the ones you know you need to get to and then if time and energy are going well, go to those that are less important to the goals you’ve established.

The worst thing you can do is overextend yourself while at the conference so that you don’t get the most out of the sessions you needed to hear and learn from most.  Make a plan and adjust as you go…but most don’t even make a plan.

Somewhere in the middle is probably the best of the two different types of people that usually go to a conference.  Know which one you usually are and have a better plan for your schedule.  Again, Verge is different.  You get to hang with some of the top practitioners in the world instead of merely hearing them speak on stage.

TAKE ADVANTAGE of this.

Know the Spirit

Don’t leave the Spirit out of the Verge Conference.  As we’ve seen in the book of Acts,  the Apostle Paul had plans, but the Spirit continually changed them for him and he listened and allowed the Spirit to guide him to who and where he should go.

During the conference, as you are listening to the speakers, engaging in conversations, ask the Spirit, “Should my goals be changing?  What are you trying to teach me Spirit?  Direct me to who I need to be hearing from.”  The Spirit wants the Verge Conference to catalyze your life and ministry, so involve him in your time while there.

Be praying when you wake up, during the conference day and then before you go to bed.  Use these times as strategizing sessions with the Spirit, knowing this time is an investment.

Know Your Next Steps

This is where money is the most wasted at conferences.  You take in a ton of information at a conference and you get home and people ask, “How was the conference?” and you say, “It was so good, just so much to take in, almost overwhelming…”

Great…but now what?  If you have made goals, listened and interacted with those that helped answer those questions, listened to and strategized with the Spirit, now it’s time to put those things into action.  With each goal you had at the beginning start asking these questions:

  • What’s urgent but not important?

  • Which issues feel most pressing to you right now?

  • What did I specifically learn for each pressing goal?

  • Were all my questions addressed?Who do I need to talk to, to help carry out this goal?

    • If so, what were the answers?
    • If not, what do I still need to learn to accomplish this goal?
  • What is the first thing I need to do when I get home for this goal to get going?

  • What obstacles are still in the way?

  • What is the timeline for this goal to be carried out?

  • Who can keep me accountable to ensure this is carried out?

  • What new questions came that I/we need to address?

  • What will you stop doing to free up time and energy?

  • What will you start doing so that you can accomplish these pressing questions?

  • What will you continue doing?

I know these are simple things, but sometimes the most simple things in life are the most overlooked.   I know as a speaker and Executive Team Member of the GCM Collective, we want your time at the Verge Conference to be an investment and not merely an expense.   Take into consideration the above mentioned things and take them to the Spirit and seek how you can ensure that you don’t waste your money on the Verge Conference this year.