Shaking things up (a little)

Shaking things up (a little)

Feb 22, 2013

Shaking things up (a little)

By Ralph Mackintosh


Conference 2013

Have you ever been “stuck in a rut”? That doesn’t literally happen too often these days since we no longer drive the horse-pulled wagons on dirt roads that were the origin of this phrase.

Years of travel in all kinds of weather formed grooves or ruts in the road. When the vehicle’s wheels became trapped in these depressions it was difficult to veer from the established path. Today, of course, the idiom has come to mean consistently and repeatedly doing things the same way with little variation.

As I was thinking about this year’s General Conference meetings I had to ask if I was willing to shake things up and take a risk or two that might violate some “sacred cows.” (How did a Hindu reference make it into a Sabbath Recorder article?) I might hear that I didn’t make the right musical choices, the band was too loud (or too soft), or the speakers were too long, too short, too charismatic or too traditional. Such is the life of the Conference President; and next year we’ll get a different approach with a different President.

In planning our week in Colorado Springs I’ve been drawing on years of participating in medical and technical conferences, church-related conferences and corporate events. As some of you know, my second career after medical physics has been performing at these types of functions across the country. My experiences at these large scale events have given me a different perspective on what brings people to a conference and what makes for a meaningful week.

We gather as a big SDB family to renew acquaintances, fellowship and worship together, and enjoy each other’s company. But I would like this year’s Conference to be much more than a family reunion.

I’ve been asking myself: Are our Conference programs dynamic enough to attract non-SDBs? Do new attendees feel welcome and involved? Are the Conference programs and learning activities of such high quality that they make me want to commit my vacation time to travelling across the country? At the end of the week will I think I received value for my time and expense? Was my life significantly enriched or changed by my attendance at Conference 2013?

My concept of a good Conference experience is based on three pillars: Inspiration, Knowledge, and Fun. We should leave the week inspired by the music we heard, the messages that were delivered and the experiences we shared. Corporate worship should lift us up, renew our spirits and motivate us to action.

Secondly, everyone should return home with new knowledge, new skills, new insights or new understanding that can be applied to their daily lives and to their personal and church ministries. And finally the week should be one of fun and enjoyment in fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.

At the end of Conference I want you to have positive answers to these questions: Did I encounter or experience God at a higher altitude or in a new way? Did I learn something I didn’t know before that will affect my life or ministry?

Did I make a new friend? Was Conference good enough that it was worth giving up a week of my vacation time instead of going to Disney World or Hawaii? (Okay, maybe we can’t compete with the Mouse or Hawaiian beaches but did we come close?)

So one of my challenges for the year is to find outstanding speakers and teachers that will motivate and educate, inspire and challenge, and expand our perspectives. We are planning some activities that are different from anything seen at Conference before and some new events that are just plain fun.

I hope to start announcing some of the speakers that will be bringing the keynote addresses (Hint: One speaker will be an author of a book many SDBs have been reading this year).

Hopefully you’re already planning to be a part of Conference in Colorado 2013 and you will join us as we strive to move Forward in HIS Footsteps.

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