It’s shaping up that I’ll win the contest to get the free pass to Big Omaha, which I am utterly stoked about. When I requested to go to the conference, my boss was in favor of it. However, because of the economy, staff aren’t able to go to conferences at the moment. When I found out about the contest I thought it was worth a shot at a free pass, and now I’m going. (Yes!)

Some thoughts…

Back in 2006 I was meeting with Alex Daye, the Art Director at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, IL. We hold the same position, but Willow Creek has 23,000 people attending their services any given weekend. (That’s 20,000 more than the church I work at now.) I was asking him a lot of questions, picking his brain, because Willow Creek is amazingly creative with how they communicate across so many various mediums to thousands upon thousands.

One of the things I asked him was which conferences he encourages his staff and volunteers to go to. I assumed it would be something in the Christian arena, because that is what every church does with their staff and conferences. However, his response was different. He told me he and his staff didn’t go to those kinds of conferences. He wants his staff to go to the industry standard conferences, the professional conferences in his staff’s respective fields. He wants his people to get training from the best so they can give their best. That stuck with me.

In my opinion, I think a number of Christians go to conferences because it’s the thing to do. Yeah, they are enjoyable, and they are “blessed” by their time at them, but how does it make them better at what they are doing? Is it the best use of money to have a church spend a couple hundred dollars on you so you can pick up some nice sayings from the flavor-of-the-month pastor/leader? How is it affecting your work? Is it making an impact? What’s the return on that investment of time and money?

(I think there are some great Christian conferences out there, and I’ve been grateful to attend a few in my time that have greatly impacted my life and work. Willow Creek’s Arts Conference and its Leadership Summit, and Mars Hill Graduate School’s Story Workshop are some that come to mind.)

So, when looking for conferences to attend for work I’m looking for ones that are going to truly benefit my work. They are going to improve my skills and make me more effective. It’s for these reasons, and a few more, that I was drawn to Big Omaha.

As an Art Director, and as a creative, I’m excited about listening to what some of the best creatives and innovators in the nation have to say about their craft. At Christ Community Church, where I work, I have helped pioneer a lot of different web ventures, multimedia projects and more, but sometimes I’m flying blind with what I’m doing. There hasn’t been training for some of what I do, nevermind the fact I didn’t go to a formal college and still don’t have my degree. (Spent almost ten years as a missionary.) I’m eager to hear from the best so I can be more effective with my work. I believe I have a life-changing message to communicate, and I want to make sure I’m communicating it as effectively as possible in this day and age and rapidly changing culture.

Also, I’m looking forward to networking and connecting with other local professionals. It’s been fun conversing with locals on Twitter and Facebook, but now I’m looking forward to conversing directly with them. I’ve been appreciative of what some locals share and post online.

I’m interested to see what I can do to help Omaha. I love Omaha. It’s my home. I want Omaha to be a wonderful city for people to live in.

So I’m headed to Big Omaha. I think I have no idea what I am in store for, and I can’t wait.

How did I come up with the name “Analog” for the Silicon Prairie News mascot? That deserves a separate post. (Nothing too dramatic with the name.)

Want to know more about me and my work? These two recent posts provide a decent snapshot on things. (click here for Difference of Opinion is Okay post, click here for Feedback 2.0 post and click here for April Showers post)

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