No one will argue that the church of today faces myriad challenges. Some are universal, but oftentimes, they are specific to a region, culture, city or even the particular size of a church.
So, instead of keeping to ourselves trying to solve problems in a vacuum, doesn't it make sense to reach out to one another, to our neighbors, and share knowledge, ideas and experiences? That's what the organizers of the WFX REACH series had in mind as they selected speakers for the 2016 events in Raleigh, N.C. and San Antonio.
"We believe that the church has many, many talented people and that all parts of the body are important and valuable, so instead of bringing outside experts into each area, we found local experts to speak to the issues that churches are wrestling with," says Jim Wagner, general manager of WFX REACH and its parent event, the Worship Facilities Conference and Expo (WFX).
The REACH Conferences were created to deliver the educational elements of the annual WFX on a regional level, but also to open up networking opportunities for churches in those regions.
The Power of Networking
"In my opinion the [networking at REACH] is the biggest value. When we are busy we are tempted to isolate ourselves and trade true community, both with God and with other people, for quick results," says Steven Cobb, A/V systems director of San Antonio-based Oak Hills Church and a REACH San Anotonio speaker.
Cobb will lead two sessions, "What a Tech Director Should Expect from an AVL Integrator" and "Fundamentals of Audio". Both topics are full of rich and useful information, but more importantly, are seasoned with Cobb's personal stories and share the real world-applicable solutions he has employed throughout his career.
Other tech leaders, pastors and representatives from denominational organizations, like director of communications and media support for the Rio Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, Will Rice, will join Cobb in San Antonio. Rice agrees that the power of networking is simply irreplaceable. In his work, Rice educates and helps churches of all sizes adopt new technology, but he admits his role is a small one and that the best means of teaching a church about implementing new technology is to connect them with another church that's done it well. "I can add a lot to the conversation by keeping up to date on technology, trends and best practices, but the real work happens in the field at the local church level," he says.
In his sessions, "Using the Web and Social Media to Reach the Mission Field" and "Round Table on Digital Platforms to Engage Your Community", Rice will share the methods he's used to help churches employ technology in a variety of situations. "I have worked in settings with great hesitancy to adopt technology. I have also worked in a church with a large budget and a passion for innovation. Now, I get to work with a lot of churches, large and smallchurches just getting started with their first website and churches that are implementing multi-camera live streams," he says.
"These varying perspectives are incredibly important when it comes to building relational bridges or solving problems," says Cobb, who grew up and started working in a small church, but now works in a very large church. His journey has been dynamic and diverse, as well, and he hopes to steward the knowledge he's gained for the strengthening of individuals and ministries.
Kenn Dixon, director of communications for the Seventh-day Adventist Southwest Region, will also lead sessions at REACH, titled, "Building a Communications and Content Team" and "Creating the Right Media Content: Video, Graphics and More".
In his communications work, Dixon has seen small, medium and large churches navigate change in today's landscape and plans to relay that knowledge at REACH to help other churches create and improve their communications practices. "This is not just theory, it's practical knowledge from mistakes that have shaped my experience," he says. "I want others to learn from my failures, as well as my successes."
Needless to say, Dixon, Rice and Cobb are all proponents for building networks to learn from peers, and feel that churches can find their greatest resources in one another. "All of our speakers have an incredible understanding of the challenges facing churches in this region and we know they're going to share some very useful insights," says Wagner.
The 2016 WFX REACH Conferences will be held May 16-17, 2016, at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Raleigh, and May 19-20, 2016, at Westover Hills Assembly of God in San Antonio. Learn more or register for either WFX REACH Conference at wfxreach.com.