Whole-church workforce prepares for annual BILD Conference

Posted by Laura Rendall | Published October 10, 2017

Whole-church workforce prepares for annual BILD Conference

This October the Ames/Des Moines CityChurch will host the 2017 BILD Conference, an event we look forward to all year. Church leaders from around the world will converge on our Community Center for a time of learning, networking, strategizing, and fellowship. Many will stay in our homes, get to know our families, and participate in our churches. For two weeks, the wheels of organization will turn and the Summit will glide by smoothly (we hope!), as it does every year. It takes a monumental amount of effort and coordination on the part of many people to make an event of this size successful! Every person in our network is needed to take conference preparation from A to Z.

Preparation for the Summit starts as early as summer, when invitations and registration forms are sent out to our key partners, both in America and around the world. It usually takes a couple of months for our partners to manage all of the preparations on their end: getting visas, raising money for plane tickets, finalizing travel plans, and so forth. When everything is ready, they send their registrations back to us. This unleashes a flurry of activity here in Ames.

The registration forms first find their way to the Central Hub of Intelligence - Kathy Keller’s desk. From Kathy’s desk, information is collected and sorted and sent to the proper people. First, she sends the registration forms to Grace Beckett (my sister!) who enters all the information into a vast database. From the database, members of the build staff are able to run reports: how many people, for example, will be here for lunch on October 8th? How many are taking the Acts workshop? How many need rides to and from the airport? and so forth. After sending them to Grace, Kathy also sends the registration forms to people in charge of large task areas - food preparation, transportation, building, and housing.

Once they have received the information from Kathy, the various teams go to work. Annie Keller immediately starts thinking about housing needs. It’s her job to pair all of our international guests with host families from our network. At the same time, Keith Cook starts arranging for transportation. He figures out the arrival and departure dates of each of our guests and arranges rides for them to and from the airport. Mary Haila and Pam Wells start analyzing the numbers of leaders who will be at the conference each day and how many snacks will be needed. Darren and Sarah Johnson use the same information to plan the massive undertaking of preparing daily lunches and providing food for the Summit banquet.  Josh Sents takes the information about how many people will be taking each workshop to plan room-arrangement and general building set-up for each day.

As each of these people is overseeing their task area, they let the rest of the network know what needs must be met. We get sign-up sheets in our email inboxes, asking us to volunteer to be hosts, to prepare food for snacks, to serve lunches, to provide transportation, and to help with custodial services, just to name a few. Every person in our network has the opportunity to contribute to the conference in some way.

As the sign-up sheets slowly fill up, every household who has volunteered starts planning. Host families take trips to Target to buy new pillows and spend time doing Google searches for “easy Indian recipes.” Those who signed up to help with transportation or serving rearrange their schedules for the week to make themselves most available. Those preparing food items work the extra items into their grocery budgets.

And while all this is going on, several other large endeavors are taking place. One is financial: as always, the cost of the Summit does not fall within our network’s general budget, so fundraising has to happen. Each of our churches is asked to carefully consider how their members can contribute towards the need. Some churches set fundraising goals and do creative things to meet them. Each year we raise about eighty thousand dollars! Every person is needed to meet this financial need.

Another major task takes place at the Community Center. The entire interior of the building must be repainted each fall to cover a year’s worth of scuffs and scratches. Kevin Berg takes charge of this task, and spends many evenings painting alongside those who have volunteered to help him.

And behind the scenes of all of this activity our apostolic team is preparing to lead conference workshops. Many weeks before the conference begins, the team meets to carefully consider what workshops need to be offered and who should teach them. Those teaching then have the challenge of preparing to facilitate fruitful discussion amongst people from multiple ethnicities. And there are many other factors that they have to consider and facilitate that go into making the Summit fruitful and productive for all.

All this is happening – and the Summit hasn’t even begun yet! When it finally does begin in late October, we will be even busier as all of our plans get implemented at last. As the two weeks go by, with all of the details carefully considered and smoothed out, who will know that it took 18 churches and over 250 people to pull it off? As every member of our network contributes their unique abilities to the whole, we become one powerful body that Christ is able to use to impact the world.

Posted In Ames/Des Moines Network