It’s no secret that conferences are expensive. Unless you live in the right city and incredible opportunities are in your own backyard, the biggest cost of that high-caliber teaching isn’t actually the teaching—it’s getting to the conference and reserving a place to stay for the weekend.
Thanks to technology, where you live or how much you make doesn’t determine who you can learn from. High-caliber education is increasingly becoming more accessible, and so are conferences.
Take Awana for example. Awana’s global ministry works with more than 2 million kids, using more than 330,000 volunteers and 260 field staff in 30,000 churches throughout the world. Their headquarters are in Illinois, but their teams are spread across the globe—which makes it more than a little difficult to get everyone in the same place for a conference.
Jan O’Leary has been involved with Awana in Canada for 10 years. To equip leaders to disciple kids throughout the world, Awana has to continually provide even experienced leaders like Jan with the best possible training, the most up-to-date information, and opportunities for personal growth.
At Vantage Conference 2016—Awana’s national conference in Chicago—Jan joined hundreds of other Awana leaders to explore apologetics, Christianity’s relationship to modern culture, relational ministry, and more with gifted speakers like Sean McDowell, Ed Stetzer, and Dan Lovaglia.
And she did it on her own schedule—without leaving Canada. On the first day of the conference, her husband was in the hospital. Jan didn’t have to cancel a flight or turn the car around to be with him. She also didn’t have to miss the opening session of the conference—she watched the recording when she had time. She caught the rest of the conference live from a church near the hospital.
No planes. No road trip. No hotel.
For Jan, the best part of the conference was learning about the changes that directly affect her ministry. As a “Trek leader,” she was especially encouraged by Awana’s changes to T&T (Awana’s ministry to “tweens”) and Journey (Awana’s high school ministry). “It’s so important to equip teens as they head to university. . . the changes to T&T will really help prevent the dropout rate and improve the enjoyment of children who find memorizing difficult,” Jan says.
In the opening session of the conference, Sean McDowell had a lot to say about the importance of giving kids the tools they need to bring their faith into the adult world—particularly, apologetics. As a leader, Jan has seen enough kids fall away from their faith to know how valuable it is for kids to understand why they can believe the truth of Scripture.
Jan brought what she learned back to Vancouver, where her Awana club shows kids the light of the Bible. “It’s in the most needy area of the city,” Jan says. “Which is why I went there to begin with—to help rescue children and keep them from the drug culture in the area.”
Vantage Conference is just one of many tools Awana has used to equip its leaders. And while attending online meant she didn’t get to interact as much with other attendees (or teach a seminar, as she’s done in the past at Awana’s local conferences in Canada), it gave her the opportunity to experience some of the best Christian teaching available—teaching that she.
That’s why we at Faithlife do what we do. We give ministries like Awana the tools they need to keep equipping leaders like Jan O’Leary. In this case, that meant making a massive conference in Illinois accessible to a woman sitting in a church with a laptop in Vancouver.
We equip people to grow in the light of the Bible, and that means building tools like Faithlife.com that support the body of Christ throughout the world.