"Community" is a part of most churches' vocabulary these days. Church leadership has wisely discerned that relationships are what carry an individual's life transformation forward, as they simultaneously facilitate our ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others. If being in community is paramount to the personal spiritual walk, isn't it just as necessary for professionals in the realm of ministry? Of course it is, and it's always existed, but is perhaps known by a different name: It's called a network.
"There is so much to be learned in community with fellow co-laborers who are doing the same things you are," says Larry Leake, worship technology manager at Crossroads Fellowship in Raleigh N.C.
On May 16-17, Crossroads Fellowship is hosting the 2016 WFX REACH Conference, an abbreviated and regional version of the annual Worship Facilities Conference and Expo (WFX). A second REACH will be held in San Antonio on May 19-20.
Jim Wagner, general manager of WFX and the REACH series explains that the decision to make the essential education and networking opportunities of WFX available and accessible on a regional level is rooted in this need for community, as well as diversity. "We tend to celebrate the large and famous churches and fall into the trap of thinking they have all the answers and talent," says Wagner. "These churches are typically awesome, but their scale is a big factor in their abilities and resources."
According to Wagner, small to medium-sized churches are breaking ground and solving problems, too, and doing so in very creative and resourceful ways. The goal of REACH, he shares, is to highlight and celebrate this fact and bring churches together to share ideas and solutions.
"Churches in our region share many of the same problems and circumstances, so this is an awesome opportunity to learn and interact," says Leake.
Sharing To Learn
The networking and learning opportunities aren't just limited to mingling in between conference sessions, either. WFX REACH has selected its speakers from the ranks of regional churches as a means of sharing their stories and successes. "These leaders are excited about and proud of what they are doing in their churches. We want and should be profiling these people and discussing how they are finding success in their organizations and communities," says Wagner.
One of those speakers is Dave Hummel, creative director of the multi-site Wave Church based in Virginia Beach, Va. Hummel joined Wave Church as a member of the audio team and worked his way up to his current role. In his session titled, "Evolving As A Tech Leader" he will share how he learned to lead, but also how to serve as his career evolved. "To grow, you have to talk to and learn from other people. You don't get better by being by yourself, but by learning from others farther down the road," Hummel shares.
Josh Howard, who is the Student Life Ministries Pastor at HeartsEase Family Life Church in Baton Rouge, La., and founder of JWH Communications, will lead three sessions on various media and communications topics.
In serving a church that has grown from 13 to 400 people and launching his own communications firm, Howard has witnessed many changes and trends and hopes to share what he's learned with REACH attendees. "I don't know it all, but I feel I can share some unique experiences from both my church background and my years of communication work in the secular industry," he says.
The diversity of experience one can encounter at REACH is certainly a draw to the conference, shares Wagner, but that same richness can also be developed at any time just by reaching out to peers in other churches.
"One of the benefits of growing a local network is to realize that you're not crazy, you're not alone." says Hummel. "Others are experiencing or have experienced the same challenges and they have great advice to share."
Howard agrees: "There's no reason to reinvent the wheel or have opposition if our goal is ultimately to win lives to Christ. We are far better together than we are separate."