|Q. How long have you been a part of the Shepherds’ Conference?
A. I started training in 2005. My first conference assisting was in 2005 and this will be the fifth conference that I have actually directed.
Q. If there was one big thing you would want the pastors to walk away from the conference with, what would it be?
A. I want them to walk away with a renewed sense of what they’re doing, and how important it is for the kingdom. A lot of the guys are just out there and they don’t have a lot of other like minded pastors to fellowship with. They can come and hear the word of God preached, be refreshed through the fellowship of all the other men, be encouraged by the seminars and find answers. I just want them to walk away refreshed and equipped for another year of ministry.
Q. There are a lot of other Bible conferences and similar things all over the country. What makes this conference different from other conferences?
A. Our conference is geared a bit more towards being an equipping conference. We have 30 different seminars offered in all different aspects of ministry, biblical philosophy of ministry, preaching, theology etc. I think one thing that we’ve set ourselves apart with is really just the focus on equipping. Men are able to come and find answers, become better preachers, and become better pastors. Maybe the biggest difference could be that we’re a network, we’re a fellowship of people just like T4G (together for the gospel), and they’re starting to do seminars as well now, but I think that’s been our biggest aspect in the past is just trying to equip pastors with resources they need for ministry.
Q. What does it take to put on the conference? What is involved in the planning process?
A. The planning falls in three phases..after the conference is over we take a break and do a debrief of what happened last year and discuss things we would like to change. Then the planning year starts with the paid staff developing the schedule, keynote speakers and the basic framework of what the conference will look like. We work on the dates, developing the seminar, choices etc. That takes all summer to put into place, and usually try to have the first phase along with the registration done by September 1st .
Then we move into phase 2 which is our leadership team. They are mix of paid staff and unpaid lay people in the church. We start organizing and planning all different aspects of the conference… trying to go through and do creative thinking, creative planning of different things we could do for the men. That takes place in the fall, from September until Christmas.
When we come back after Christmas, the third phase is the execution- where we’re meeting with the staff and with our leadership team to implement everything that we’ve planned, and prepare for the conference to be here. The registration takes place that whole time, but it’s a three phase planning process with the overall structure of planning, implementing, and then doing the implementation.
Q. Do the registration fees cover the cost of the conference? If so and if there is a surplus, where does that go?
A. Registration does cover the cost of the conference, so the church doesn’t have to support the conference. Excesses typically help us with scholarships for men to come to the conference or towards things that we can add to our facility to better serve the conference.
Q. How many people are involved in the leadership and staffing of the conference? Full time vs. volunteers?
A. There are half a dozen paid people which includes people from different departments here at the church. Then there are a dozen lay people that make up the leadership team. They are the coordinators… they actually coordinate different aspects of the conference. These are lay church members that can pull other volunteers together to staff different aspects of the actual conference.
Q. How many hours do you think the volunteer coordinators put into it?
A. It’s a lot. Depending on what aspect of the conference they oversee..maybe a couple hundred hours. They’re putting in 80-90 hours in the week of the conference, and some of them may put in another 80 in planning. That may be a little high, maybe 120-150 total.
Q. Who decides the topics for the seminars at the conference? There are often fairly controversial subjects selected. How do you select those?
A. Those are typically what we call contemporary issues, so whatever the contemporary issues are in evangelicalism is usually how those seminars get selected. If there is an issue that’s out there that is being discussed, we typically want someone to address it at the Shepherds’ Conference. We try and give what we feel is the biblical perspective on the issue just to help equip the men to know how to answer those kind of questions in their churches. So that’s how that happens. The seminars are developed in our office. John Rourke, Nathan Busenitz, Rick Holland and myself are involved in the process. As overseers of the conference, we develop what the overall seminar package is going to look like.
Q. They keynote speaker line up is very similar each year. Who decides on the main speakers for the conference?
A. John MacAurthur and Rick Holland usually discuss it and make those decisions.
Q. Where do you see the conference going in the future? Do you see any big changes?
A. Not right now, we don’t see any big changes coming up. I think at this point we have developed what we want the conference to be, so I don’t see any major structural changes to the conference in the near future.
Q. Traditionally the conference was as small as a few hundred men. When did it start growing to the current capacity?
A. In 2001 they changed the structure of the conference so a lot more people could come. I think in the past they used to do it in the gym, so they only took as many people as they could seat around tables in the gym to feed them, but they changed that concept in 2001 and so it’s grown from there.
Q. What is the max attendance that you can get?
Q. Would you ever consider moving the conference to another location?
A. No, I don’t think so, because having it on the church campus brings in a whole different dynamic because they just see the involvement of the church body, with all the church volunteers, the crew, and bringing it into the church and church life, which could be somewhat what segregates it from going to a conference at a convention center somewhere. It’s on the church campus where the church body actively participates in the conference, and the attendants can see the lives of people that have been changed by the preaching of the word of God. Those changed lives are put into action as they serve the men in a volunteer capacity. So I don’t think we would ever consider changing it because it’s part of the dynamic of the conference.