Registration for the 2012 Epic Fail Pastors Conference is now open.
I’m excited. And I’m scared out of my mind.
A year and a half ago, I wrote about this crazy little idea.
And last April, we actually did it. We hosted this crazy event on failure. We hosted this event specifically for failed, failing and soon-to-be failing pastors, former pastors, ex-pastors, leaders and people who didn’t know who they were anymore. We called it the Epic Fail Pastors Conference.
After we announced we were actually going to risk it and try this conference experiment, I had people all over the place contacting me, encouraging us in this pursuit (while others told us that something like this would never work). The response was overwhelming. It was picked up in the Huffington Post, religion editorials across the country, newspapers in St Louis, Moody Radio in Chicago and elsewhere. We had 10,000 hits to the website within several weeks. We knew we had touched a pastoral nerve.
Much to our surprise, it didn’t fail. It actually worked.
In fact, it turned out to be an experience that I (and many others) will never forget. It was incredibly rich, deeply personal, tangibly significant space and sacred time. It was hopeful and saturated with grace and healing. Several pastors who attended said it was the most formative experience in all the years they had been in ministry (see some of the quotes from last year’s attendees.
Shortly after the event was over, the question arose. Everyone began asking the same question:
“So, when are you going to do it again?”
Honestly, at the time I didn’t know if we were even going to do it again. It’s a lot of work and time and planning behind the scenes. It involves a lot of logistics and details.
But after much prayer and discussion, we’ve decided it’s incredibly important to host again. Based on what we experienced and heard from people, we believe it was too important not to do it again.
And so, the Epic Fail Pastors Conference is happening again. March 22-24, 2012, to be exact.
Last year, we held the first Epic Fail conference in our community, Lansdale, PA a northern suburb of Philadelphia. The venue was a building that use to be a church – but failed (and is now a bar). But our creative team sensed it would be wise to shift locations. This year it will be in Mansfield, Ohio.
Ever been to Mansfield, Ohio?
Neither have we.
Why Mansfield, Ohio then?
With a conference like Epic Fail we sensed it was symbolic and fitting to avoid the sexy Christian conference locations of New York, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles or Portland (all good places, mind you) and instead host it in a unique yet unfrequented, “average” location. We also had a pastor who attended last year’s conference who was interested in hosting. It was so formative for him that he was passionate to make sure this happened again, offering to host it on his turf.
If you missed last year (or have never heard of the Epic Fail Pastors Conference, check out these other links:
- The very un-cool video where I explain what the conference is about.
- Further explanation of last year’s event.
- The opening video we showed to kick off the event.
- And the post-event reflections.
- I was asked by Duke Divinity School to write a reflection on what I learned from the process.
A few days ago, I told my wife at breakfast that I am more anxious about the second year of Epic Fail than the first one.
The sophomore slump.
I began to think: Anybody can do anything well the first time, but can you do it again?
Last year there were no expectations, no history, no real understanding of what it could be. It worked. And it surprised us. But now that people have tasted it and found it to be formative and significant and worthwhile, expectations appear. Expectations aren’t bad, but with it comes pressure when you do something a second time.
I began thinking, “What if it bombs? And what if nobody shows up? And what if it’s a waste of people’s time and money?”
And then it hit me: all the more reason for me as an insecure, anxious pastor who fears failure to host this conference again. In all its sweet and painful irony, it seems that this year – like last – the person who benefits the most from participating in a pastors’ conference on failure may be me.
Practically speaking, the cost of the three-day conference is low: $89 – and for a reason. Most ministry failures don’t have huge ministry conference budgets so we’ve worked hard to keep it at a level that is affordable. But, please: if cost is a problem, please don’t let that keep you from coming. Contact us and we’ll work hard to make sure you can make it. If you’re sensing that this important enough for you to attend, we want you here with us.
[By the way, if you live in Colorado and are unable to attend the National Conference at the end of March, there is a smaller, truncated version called the Epic Fail Roundtable that we are hosting in Colorado Springs Mar 2-3.]
Pastors: you won’t regret joining us in Mansfield, OH.
You are not alone. There are other broken ragamuffins trying to love and serve Jesus.
Join us and jump in to this messy and hope-filled aventure with us.
Will you be courageous enough to join me – and other failures, losers and screw-ups – looking to experience grace in March for the Epic Fail Pastors Conference?