The best conferences have significant levels of preparation invested ahead of time by those hosting the conference. From the speakers to facilities to schedules to a million other areas of detail, a well-planned and thoroughly-prepared conference will be more effective in presenting truth in a way that delegates can easily assimilate.

That said, however, not all delegates of the same conference will receive equal value. Some, simply by deliberate actions on their part, will be able to glean more from attending the conference than they would if they had simply shown up.

What can you do to gain the most benefit from a conference? Below are five suggestions. And because the conference our church hosts, Spiritual Leadership Conference ’15, is just a few days away, I’m applying each of these tips to next week’s conference:

  1. Prepare ahead. From asking the Lord to search your heart for anything that would hinder your hearing His voice, to planning which workshop sessions you want to attend, come to the conference already prepared to receive.
  2. Be fully present. Unless you have a true emergency going on in your family or home church, do your best to not be tied to outside conversations, work, or details. Consider only checking your email or social media streams at a few set times. Plan to attend every session. Go into every service fully engaged in listening for God’s direction to your heart.
  3. Take good notes. Not only do we remember more simply by writing it down, but we also have something to refer back to. Have a system of marking your notes or the handouts you receive for material you want to review again on your own. Jot down action items in the margins so you can easily compile a list of “to dos” at the end of the conference.
  4. Make specific decisions. When the Lord speaks to your heart through a sermon or in a session, make a specific decision of what you are going to do differently because of what you just heard. From a personal change in your life to an administrative change in your ministry, following through on that change will be much more likely if you walk out with a concrete decision.
  5. Engage with others. One of the great blessings of a meeting like Spiritual Leadership Conference is fellowship with godly leaders from around the world. Make a point to meet a few new friends at the conference and to encourage others in the work of the Lord. Bounce questions or ideas that have been stimulated in your heart through the preaching or sessions off others—people you may not ordinarily get to easily interact with. You’ll get more out of the conference, and those you engage with will too.

We’re anticipating a great conference and are asking the Lord to use it to build the lives and ministries of pastors, missionaries, church staff, and lay leaders who will be attending, whether in person or via live stream. I’d ask you to pray with us for God’s anointing on this year’s conference, and I’d encourage you to prepare for that blessing as you come. Our speakers and staff are definitely praying for you!

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