See, if you’ve got a quite small church, chances are you don’t need to run your own church conference – everyone already knows each other. Going away for 3 days isn’t really going to make that much of a difference. In fact, if your flock has been part of a small church for years, it would be a valuable reminder that Jesus’ church is massive by going along to a inter-church conference, and meeting all these other Christians and being encouraged that they’re not the only ones. Those conferences are usually smaller (50-500 people). If you’re organising a smallish inter-church conferences, that should be one of your goals… facilitating people meeting new people and having to chat.
But, if you’ve got a bigger church, chances are that many of the people DON’T know each other very well. Going to an inter-church conference is one of the last things they need – they already feel like they don’t know people! They don’t need to meet and chat with Christians from other churches, rather they need to get to people from their own church better. So you’ve got two options. 1) Run your own church-conference so they spend the time with each other, or 2) Take your church community to a very large inter-church conference AS A GROUP that sticks together (and while enjoying the larger group, doesn’t aim to build relationships with people from other churches) – this is how we’ve viewed things like Katoomba Men’s Convention.
This highlights a potential issue with any conference or inter-church event… people have many different reasons and expectations as they head into it. That means… if you’re not clear on the purpose, almost everyone will feel let down in some way, because they think everyone else should have the same inter-church goals that they do. You’ll hear things like, “I didn’t get to know anyone from my church – I may as well have not gone!” and things like, “I only spoke to people I already knew – I may as well have not gone!”. So be clear on the purpose and be cool if churches opt-out if that’s not what they’re flock needs at the moment.