Lighthouse Church, a USMB congregation in Denver, Colorado, will host a free conference later this month with the goal of encouraging pastoral leaders as they seek to minister in a world and society changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resilient Conference will take place Jan. 28-29, 2022, and will include worship, prayer, meals and teaching in large group and smaller breakout sessions over the course of the two days.
Lighthouse lead pastor Josh Shaw says the idea for the conference came during a staff meeting several months ago while staff and elders were reflecting on the ways God had helped the church to weather the cultural dynamics of the past two years from the pandemic, to economic downturn, to racial tensions.
“It started really reflectively, like ‘What is God doing in our church?’” Shaw says. “From there really came a passion among our leadership that if God decided to do some amazing things at Lighthouse…we’re certainly not the only church that has grown and seen a lot of life in this season. But also, how can we help others experience this?”
Due to the difficulty of travel during the pandemic, particularly outside of the country, they decided to focus on what they could do at their own facility in Denver.
“We landed on this idea of doing something local that would be generous and would bless pastors and leaders,” Shaw says. “Let’s use the money that we have reserved and let’s host something that hopefully helps them to learn how to be resilient or be blessed in their resiliency.”
Resilience in a post-COVID world
Shaw says that from his perspective as a lead pastor in a large city, it seems that many people are living in a new reality since the beginning of the pandemic and are working to acclimate to what life will look like going forward.
“The dynamic of the church has changed; the landscape of the church world has changed dramatically,” Shaw says. “Really what it’s done is, most people who were on the fence are now off the fence completely. At least in Denver, you can’t rely on traditional metrics for church anymore; attendance, giving, salvations—the original ways that the church growth world has talked about church, it doesn’t work anymore. That’s mainly secular Denver; I can’t speak to the Midwest or the South. I live in a reality where most people aren’t Christians.”
Shaw believes pastors and church leaders everywhere should be ready to rethink ways to engage unbelievers. At the same time, he acknowledges many leaders are exhausted and lonely after the turmoil of the last two years.
“They got thrown a weird wrench in 2020 which was, ‘You have to go all live video online,’ and they did that and it burnt them out,” Shaw says. “Now they’re being told, ‘Now you don’t need to do that; now you need to stop because people aren’t going to come to church unless you stop doing it.’ It’s like the goal post is changing every week.”
Shaw says the staff settled on “resilience” as the focus of the conference because of the etymology of the word. In Latin, “resilient” means “leaping back.”
“We want to help give people the tools to keep striving and keep going forward,” Shaw says. “Anybody you know who’s resilient is the type of person that can pivot when they need to pivot. They can go through suffering. That word means someone who’s been refined.”
Organizers at Lighthouse have focused on bringing in a diverse group of speakers in terms of ethnicity and also church model and size.
Don Morris, USMB national director, will be a featured speaker and Adaeze Brinkman of Lighthouse will lead the worship team. The conference will also feature speakers and teachers from outside the denomination in order to present a wide representation of voices.
Participants can choose from a variety of breakout sessions to attend, with topics ranging from technology to prayer to the logistics of church planting.
“The conference is not so much a heady conference,” Shaw says. “The primary desire of the conference is to impact the heart. We really just want to love leaders and give them breathing room where they maybe haven’t taken a deep breath in a couple months or a couple years.”
“Generosity helps resilience”
It was also important to the staff at Lighthouse when planning the conference to be able to offer it free of charge to remove a potential financial barrier.
“It’s kind of hard to convince people that there’s no strings attached,” Shaw says. “We are trying to convince people that it’s worth coming because you don’t have the financial burden of paying $300 a ticket.”
The church will provide the facility and food, and the speakers and teachers are donating their time for the event. Churches that are financially able are asked to purchase tickets to “pay it forward” and help cover the cost of attendance for others.
Lighthouse Church also engaged in fundraising along with other churches in order to offer around $15,000 in grants to pastors and churches attending the conference.
Church leaders participating in Resilient Conference can apply for one of five different grants, each focused on a different need, such as new audio-visual equipment, staff training or a retreat for a leader or staff to take a time of rest.
“The goal is just anything we can think of that helps people be more resilient,” Shaw says. “We believe that rest helps you be more resilient; we think that financial generosity helps people be more resilient.”
Shaw has relied on word of mouth and Lighthouse’s many connections in ministry and church plants to spread the word about Resilient Conference, as well as promoting it through MB channels. He says that the goal is to see 200 people attend, with the hope that will represent around 30 different churches.
“We anticipate pastors will bring their elders and leaders,” Shaw says. “As many people as can come, we want to come.”
The conference is still open for registration. Registration, grant applications and more information can be found at resilientconference.com.
Jessica Vix Allen is a freelance writer living in Blue Springs, Missouri. She and her husband, Joel, are both graduates of Tabor College. The couple has three children.