How can a conference's education and experiences be both general and specific?
You may say it's impossible without compromising on quality, but the organizers of the WFX Conference & Expo (WFX) are tackling the challenge.
After listening to attendee feedback and researching the struggles churches face today, WFX Conference & Expo will now offer five distinct, but concurrent conferences to provide state-of-the-art, role-specific training, all co-located in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.
"We want teams to come and receive the individualized training they need, but also have time to connect and collaborate with their teams on-site. General keynote sessions and worship, dedicated expo time, cross-functional training sessions, and other feature experiences will enrich the team's WFX experience," says Beth Vinton, program manager for WFX.
Vinton adds that many churches use WFX Conference & Expo as their yearly retreat and report that participating has resulted in an ability to implement major and positive changes when they returned home. "[Churches] tell us that [attending WFX] is one of the most impactful things they do as a staff each year," she says.
The individual conferences will include their own keynote speakers, educational sessions, peer group discussions, boot camps and more. This year's conferences include: Next-Gen Buildings, Church Communications, Safety and Security, We Are Worship, and Tech Arts.
Now in its 12th year, WFX will be held October 10-12 and is touted as an "experience that will change your church". Organizers expect staff from more than 800 churches to attend, including staff leaders and lay leaders, decision makers and key influencers, executive staff, administrators, building and facilities managers, technical directors, technical team members, communications directors, worship leaders, and worship teams.
This year's safety and security offerings are entirely newa response to the current instability churches are experiencing regarding global terror threats and cyber security. Speakers will include Ron Aguiar, founder and CEO of Oasis Safety, Tim Fancher, of Psalm 144 Church Protection Seminars, and John Moa, sales director with CyberLock, Inc., among others. Specific session topics will include guns in the church and active shooter situations, children's security, staff training, equipment purchasing and installation, event security, and emergency response plans.
For worship leaders and artists, WFX partner Integrity Music, a recording and publishing label with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and the U.K., is producing the We Are Worship Conference.
Integrity Music's artists will provide all group worship experiences, as well as the We Are Worship Conference sessions, which will cover areas such as songwriting, service planning, song selection, clicks and loops, efficient rehearsals, and volunteer recruitment and management.
The Next-Gen Buildings Conference is meant for pastors, executive pastors, administrators and other church leadership involved in determining facility needs for their church. The conference will help uncover the building trends of today and provide guidance on planning, funding, and overseeing building projects. The conference's keynote speaker is Karl Vaters, author of the book, "The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us".
The Church Communications Conference will explore how to best share your church's message by utilizing idea sharing, leveraging social media, storytelling, branding and more. Len Wilson, author of ten books on the topic of church communications, as well as a church staff veteran, will deliver his message, "Shareability: Transform Hearts, Lives and Communities with Messages That Click" during his keynote.
The Tech Arts Conference is designed for tech leaders and their teams with special emphasis on the evolving nature and responsibilities of these roles. Sessions include skill-based learning for church sound, live mixing, lighting design, streaming and video broadcast, technology project planning, and volunteer recruitment and training. The keynote speaker for this conference is Justin Firesheets, production manager for Church of the Highlands.
Although attendees must register for a primary conference, once they're on the ground in Dallas they may attend the sessions of their choosing.
"We know that many of our attendees wear multiple hats in their churches, and that some roles simply aren't clear-cut," says Vinton. "We've been strategic in creating cross-functional sessions that speak to multiple roles, hoping to eliminate barriers and seemingly conflicting objectives to allow for more collaboration within church teams."
In addition to the five regular conferences, a variety of pre-conference boot camps, sponsored workshops, and the seventh annual Tech Leaders Retreat will be held on October 10. The 2017 boot camps are "Recruiting, Training and Empowering an All-Volunteer Staff" led by Karl Vaters, "Think Like a Five Year Old and Unleash Your Creative Genius" led by Len Wilson, and "The Ins and Outs of Church Safety and Security", which will be led by speakers yet to be announced.
Additionally, Chuck Scoggins, author of "Church Marketing Sucks" and the executive director of the Center for Church Communications, will offer a boot camp related to communications. Nathan VonMinden, writer for Worship Tech Director and the worship and creative arts pastor at Grace Point Church in San Antonio, will provide a boot camp on filmmaking.
Boot camps are 2- or 4-hour intensives and are an additional $35 or $55, respectively. Sponsored workshops are free training opportunities paid for by WFX sponsors.
The Tech Leaders Retreat, also an additional $55, is a half-day session dedicated to helping tech leaders balance their staff roles with their own spiritual wellbeing, while pursuing overall ministry growth.
"The boot camps and Tech Leaders Retreat are deep dive intensives designed to jumpstart the overall conference experience," says Vinton.
Expo and Experiences
Although it's already the largest church-focused expo in the nation, the 2017 WFX expo is set to be the largest yet, a reflection of the fluidity of tech offerings for ministry.
"What you saw last year is not what you'll see this year," says Vinton. "We're intentional about making sure the newest trends are represented on the expo floor."
More than 225 church-related service providers and product manufacturers will be on-site ready to demo products and answer questions.
And, for the second year, in the middle of the expo floor will be The Sparka space for attendees to interact with thought leaders by asking questions and co-creating solutions. Integrity Music artists will be available and many of the authors participating in WFX will offer book signings at The Spark, as well.
The Live Sound International (LSI) Loudspeaker Demo will also return as part of the expo, giving attendees the chance to evaluate and compare top loudspeaker systems in a controlled listening environment. LSI will be held in an adjacent conference room to the expo floor at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
Additionally, hands-on training in a variety of AVL systems and products will once again be offered to tech and worship team members through manufacturer training sessions. These sessions are taught by the industry's leading manufacturers and cover the basics, as well as advanced tips and techniques.
"We've curated these experiences to deliver beneficial information and product solutions for the leaders and staff of today's churches," says Vinton.
Finally, to keep track of everything going on and connect with new colleagues via social media, the WFX App is available for download to all registered attendees. It includes conference schedules, speaker bios, an expo floor map, social media feeds, event polls and more.
To learn more about the conference and to register, visit www.wfxevents.com. Spring pricing for the full conference (Full Conference Pass: $195) ends June 16, 2017.