I am somewhat of a Conference Junkie. The problem with many of them is "The Cult of Personality". You go to the big town with the big megachurch rock star pastors and everyone is looking for the next big thing to make their church grow.
I was skeptical of The Sticks myself. I had never heard of the any of the churches involved and only knew 2 of the speakers. But something about the concept of "The Sticks" gripped me. How could I overcome the challenges of ministering in a small town with limited resources and an over abundance of churches that quite literally "run" the town.
...anyway - what I saw in The Sticks conference was something different. An ordinary church in an ordinary town - that did incredible things. 1000 member churches in 2000 person towns? 2000 member churches in 500 person towns? How does that happen. In my town there are 100 churches and not 2 that might have 1200 people. - But still 50% don't go to church.
I wanted to see what was happening in The Sticks - so I took my team. Honestly I didn't expect much. I've been to Granger, C3, Unleash, Willow Creek. I've seen the best do their thing. And I left inspired and sometimes had principles I could translate back to my town.
But The Sticks was different. I wasn't watching the Mega Rock Stars of Church and listening to the Top Most Innovative, fastest gowing, cutting edge, blah blah blah people and feeling convicted that I wasn't cutting it as a Pastor. I was watching normal guys who were doing abnormal things and I felt like I was home among friends.
We laughed, we cried, we worshiped and we felt the Presence of God - and we left more than inspired and overwhelmed with information. We left equipped and encouraged and ready to engage (I alliterated that for my baptist friends) our community for Christ!
If I could go to one conference this year - it would be The Sticks. This isn't about small/large town, small/large church. It's about being effective no matter what the obstacle. It just so happens in The Sticks there are unique obstacles to reaching more people and these guys get it and can help you overcome whatever your obstacle is.
Practical Stuff for Church Leaders