Larry Osborne says when you solve problems - you tend to go in this order: Me, My Team, My Tribe. I've found that to be true.
ME - when faced with a problem or roadblock - I try to figure out solutions. I think, pray, and work until a solution comes to mind. If that doesn't work I include...
MY TEAM - I turn to co-workers and friends. I trust their wisdom and look to them for insight. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts and this solves many problems. But when that can't work we, as a team, move on to...
MY TRIBE - we turn to those outside of our church, but they are part of our tribe. We share the same theology or went to the same college or seminary. They have experiences, insights, and understandings we lack. Many problems can be solved this way.
That is a good order in which to figure out solutions to challenges. However, at Northridge Church - we constantly face challenges we've never faced before. Other than Andy, none of us on our staff have ever served on a larger staff or in a larger church. In fact, none but Andy has even been a member of a church larger than Northridge (much less served on a staff of a larger church). And our theological tribe isn't known for larger churches or multi-site churches. And on top of that, most of the churches in our theological tribe tend to be much more traditional than us.
So three things constantly challenge us - that we rarely find solutions internally, among our team, or even in our tribe:
- The challenges of multi-site churches (none of us have been part of a multi-site church)
- A growing church (none of us have been part of a church with this type of long-term growth)
- Contemporary methodology (most of the staff come from a more traditional background)
Those challenges mean that we often come to the end of finding solutions from "me, my team, and my tribe" pretty quickly.
And that is the reason our staff goes to conferences - because the fourth way to discover practical solutions is OUTSIDE THE TRIBE. And over the years we have attended many conferences that may not be part of our theological tribe, but they have great expertise in one or all of the three challenges listed above.
Conferences allow us to find solutions and apply them in ways that fit our theology. We attend quite a few conferences, and the more we attend, the more comfortable we become with applying new solutions to our current challenges. And we will continue to attend conferences to increase our knowledge and apply creative solutions to problems many other churches outside of our tribe have faced. Just this last week, three members of the staff drove 18 hours one-way to learn from a church none of us have attended, but have learned much from a distance. They drove through the night both ways to continue to gain solutions to our current challenges.
It also is the main reason we began the 16:5 conference - to provide churches inside our tribe with some potential answers to some problems they are facing. It allows us to share some solutions we have found with those with whom we have the closest theological affinity. We are looking forward to the conference and learning from each other.