Recently I heard a longtime Unity member from another congregation casually remark, “We all know that conventions are just a junket for ministers.” Naturally, I felt some energy arise in me as I privately considered the truth of the statement. Was this just a thinly veiled “vacation” with former classmates and old friends that was paid for by my church? Is there any intrinsic value that I receive at convention that I don’t receive on my vacations and time off? Does any of what I experience or take part in at convention benefit my ministry?
I have to say that I could honestly think of many benefits my ministry and I have received, at every international convention and regional conference I have ever attended, no matter the program, speakers, theme or location.
Here is the list that I made of my own experience of over 20 years of conventions and regional conferences through the years:
- I always receive important information about what is happening in the movement and in our organization;
- I learn firsthand about new services, programs and consultants that are available to me and my leadership team to support and train us;
- I have the opportunity to voice ideas, suggestions and concerns, ask questions and have input into decisions that represent the needs and perspectives of my own ministry and local colleagues during business meetings, break-out sessions and yes, in the hallways and over meals;
- I attend workshops and seminars that introduce ideas and teach skills that I may be able to embody and teach to my leadership and community;
- I have the invaluable opportunity to network with other ministers and leaders who may have solutions, advice, programs or innovations to a problem that I have in my own ministry to bring back home with me;
- I am exposed to authors, speakers, workshop leaders, programs and musicians that I may want to bring to my community to enrich their experience and growth;
- I have the time to step back from the rush of activity to see my ministry in a different context, more as a whole, and dream a bigger dream for what may be next for us to pursue together;
- I am reminded of the tools and resources that are available that I now see could help me with a current situation that I forgot were there;
- I reconnect with classmates from 25 years ago as well as all those I have served on teams with and gotten to know over the years, deepening our connections and seeing the growth in one another and in myself as well as nurturing peer support.
And that’s the short list.
Ways to Make Your Job Easier
Add to that the opportunity to invite members of my board and leadership team to join me and grow together in exposure of new ideas for our ministry and enhancing their own involvement in the Unity movement that may turn into deeper spiritual growth and—who knows—perhaps a professional career for them in the future. At a minimum, learning and growing together in the exposure to so many new ideas and tools can’t help but make my job as ministry leader easier and energize the leadership and dynamism of the ministry I serve.
Next June, the Unity Worldwide Ministries Convention will be in San Antonio, Texas—my hometown and where I minister in the neighboring community of New Braunfels. The theme will be “Keep Unity Wide Open ~ Freed by Truth, Moving with Spirit.”
I invite all Unity ministers, licensed Unity teachers, spiritual leaders and ministry leadership to make plans to be with us next June. We will explore the rich opportunities before us as a movement whose time has come.
Our theology supports the embrace of spiritual ideas and practices that enhance our own desires for a direct relationship with the divine within us, through us and in relationship with others. As we have learned from the foundational teachings of Unity authors, teachers and leaders how to recognize Truth, we have discovered what the resonance of profound Truth feels like inside of us. We are equipped to freely explore scriptures, writings, practices and sacred places around the world, from various cultures and traditions, to enrich our own spiritual experience and find the common threads we recognize as Universal Truth.
Our convention will be filled with wonderful Texas musicians from our Unity ministries, keynote speakers that bring a diversity of spiritual experience and perspectives to share, while workshops will expose attendees to tools, programs and experiences that will enhance and renew them personally so that they can bring those home to share in their ministries.
Making Regional Connections
Don’t forget to plan to attend your regional and sub-regional conferences and see what they are offering this fall. Often they are affordable, easy to travel to, as well as attended by ministers, ministry leaders and others whom you can stay in touch with throughout the year. See the leadership of your region in action and consider becoming part of the leadership team in the future. Getting involved at the regional and sub-regional level is a great way to develop professionally, as well as bring your own experience and expertise to benefit our movement. I have made lifelong friends at the regional level that I have had the opportunity to connect with and work beside at various times and ways throughout the years. You never know what Spirit has in Mind for your career!
When we come together at Unity conventions and conferences, we enter a rich field of experience and an opportunity to expand and grow, share our own wisdom and unique experience and take our place in furthering the movement that has changed our lives.
“Junket”? Please! I can think of no better use of my time or my ministry’s resources than the myriad ways that I have been blessed and fulfilled personally and able to bless my ministry and our movement than by participating at conventions, regional conferences and annual summit meetings, and getting involved.
What a wonderful way to share the wisdom that has been ripened in us with one another and with the world!