Two Reflections From the Dallas NEXT Conference


Boyd Pelley, founder of Churchteams, and Ron Wilbur, Director of Small Group Operations for Saddleback Church, both attended the recent NEXT Conference in Dallas. Here are their unique observations…Dallas outside of building

Why Conferences Are So Worth It by Boyd Pelley

Purpose Driven Small Groups wrapped up their 2009 conference year during the past couple of days with a conference in Dallas. I think I have been to every small group conference but one that they have done, just as I have been to every small group conference Willow has done in like 10 years. In addition, I have been to many other conferences as well. Here are the reasons I go to these conferences:

  1. To be with and learn from leaders responsible for community life in their church. Whether that means 3 groups or 3000 groups, these are my people. Like Dane Havard from Rabbit Creek church in Anchorage, AK.
  2. To share how Churchteams can serve them. Our calling/ministry.
  3. To meet current Churchteams clients face to face. Like Bill and Pat Morgan from Beumont and Cindy Burleson from Gillette, Wyoming.
  4. To catch up with friends like Ron Wilbur from Saddleback, Jay Daniel from Norfolk, NE and Rick Howerton from Lifeway to name but a few.
  5. To learn and be inspired. I loved Steve Gladen’s Saturday morning session on Authenticity. We died laughing and were moved to tears and application of what group life ought to be like.Boyd Pelley head shot

Honestly, it was conferences that taught me how to think about and do ministry. I have been just one of hundreds, or in some cases thousands, attending church conferences for almost 20 years, and student conferences for a decade before that. A conference inspired me to see that the local church really is the hope of the world. A conference helped forge my convictions that life change happens best in community. A conference introduced me to a world much bigger than where I live day to day. They influence my life.

They will yours as well.

Finally, in the spirit of a football commercial, here’s to you Mr. “God has led me to share my life, learnings, mentors and team through a conference” man. Thank you. It is so worth it.


Observations From Dallas by Ron Wilbur Ron Wilbur head shot

It was great to see so many of the people who had flown in from 27 states and Canada.

Host church Lake Pointe located the conference in Pier 4:19, a wonderful building that felt like an early 1900’s industrial mill building but was only a dozen years old. Our Lake Pointe hosts – Carter Shotwell, Ty Daughtry, and Angele Barbee – ensured that this was an exceptional experience for everyone, having apparently hand-picked every Lake Pointe volunteer for their friendly and helpful personalities. Okay, they might not have hand-picked them; even though it felt that way. I’m guessing everyone at Lake Pointe is friendly and helpful.

There was an air of expectancy as folks registered on Friday morning. By Friday night, our hotel felt almost like an annex to the conference as groups of people gathered in various parts of the lobby and breakfast area, all with their conference workbooks and all discussing the day’s teaching.

Saturday held so many highlights, starting with a great worship set and Steve Gladen sharing his heart about Authenticity, and ending with Steve leading the attendees to a place of surrender and rededication at the cross.

Dallas people putting post its on a crossBy Saturday afternoon when the conference ended, those whom God had gathered to come to Dallas had bonded through stories, tears, and conversations. The building was filled with excitement in anticipation of what God has planned next. While many of us arrived as strangers, we all left as family. 




2010 Purpose Driven Conference

Lake Forest, CA
Feb 9-12
Saddleback Church

Purpose Driven Small Groups with Pastor Steve Gladen and the Small Groups Team


2010 “Community U” 2 Day Conferences

Nashville, TN
April 16/17
LifePoint Church, Smyrna, TN

Milwaukee, WI
May 21/22
Parkway Church, Oak Creek

Los Angeles, CA
July 16/17
Mariners Church, Irvine

St. Louis, MO
August 20/21
Calvary Community Church, St. Louis

Seattle, WA
September 24/25
Washington Cathedral, Redmond

Washington D.C.
October 15/16
Grace Community, Fulton, MD

Miami, FL
November 4/5
Christ Fellowship, W. Palm Beach

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