I’ve been doing the conference rounds every season for the last 11+ years. Whether I’ve been there as an exhibitor or an attendee, they’ve been a huge part of what I do. But conferences are also strange, especially in our ever-divided and still pandemic-y time. They’re always strange, but the current times only make their strangeness more noticeable.
But the latest conference is one that has me feeling this most of all. This week (April 19-21, 2022), I’ll be in Louisville for the final Together for the Gospel event. With the exception of the online only year, I’ve been there every time since 2012.
Small moments that changed my life
This event, even more than some of the others, holds many fond memories. It’s a place where I met people who became ministry partners, coworkers, and friends:
But most of all, it’s where I am Matt Capps, a pastor in North Carolina, and I became friends because of our time at these events. That ultimately led to me moving to the United States.
It’s where my friends Andrew, Jason, and I, who all lived relatively close to one another in Canada, really got to know one another (in part because of the drive down to Louisville).
It’s where I premiered a book as a free gift to attendees. Where I took part in a video shoot or two.
It’s where I spent way too many late nights eating too much food and drinking too much root beer. And where every ounce of my reserve energy was used up 10 times over because I was having fun with people I like.
It’s even where I heard a few really amazing messages that remind me that the gospel is really, really great. (Even when we all forget that sometimes in how we act toward one another.)
One Last Time in Louisville
Most of us who work in jobs that see us going to conferences tend to get a bit jaded over time. Working the exhibit hall isn’t the same as going to an event. The long hours can be really long for us, after all.
But even on my more jaded days, I look forward to it. Not because I like standing in an exhibit hall necessarily, although I’m looking forward to talking to you (if you’re coming) about some really amazing Bibles.
No, what I’m looking forward to most of all is the opportunity to see my conference friends again. The people who grab coffee together when the hall shuts down, and have dinner when the sessions resume.
To see the people that I only ever get to see when we’re all at these weird events that disrupt the normal rhythms of life.
To make jokes and swap stories and see how God is at work in all of our lives, and be reminded of that good news that brings us all together.