It was not when my staff first posted a Facebook picture of me napping in a megachurch stadium chair that I realized my Christian-conference-going days were numbered.

It was when I realized they had a whole album of these pictures.

I love conferences. In my early days of ministry, The National Youth Workers' Convention changed the direction of my ministry and my preaching. I marveled the first time I stepped onto Willow Creek's campus for a Leadership Summit, and I grew because of my first Purpose-Driven Church conference. I still love Catalyst and Orange. Reading this, I think I almost needed a conference intervention.

While I'd still recommend big conferences for ministry development, my staff and I have gone in a new direction. This year we loaded up a caravan of cars and drove four hours into Las Vegas to tour five churches over the course of three days. We interviewed staffs, toured facilities, picked up their literature, studied best practices, and asked for ...

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