Biennial Reflections

Fake book cover “Top 10 strategies for getting your church noticed online.”This past Saturday I was honored to teach two sessions for the ABCUSA Biennial Academy for the track “Sharing the Good News in a Social Media Age.” It was an honor to be asked, and I began developing the track in January 2019. For six months I wrote, re-wrote, and tweaked the material – hoping to come up with something useful for the folks who would attend.

Because I have a profound dislike of “howto” expositions when it comes to break-out sessions, I opted to redirect the track to help people develop engagement skills which were built off of empathy. I tend to describe my training sessions as “giving tools for our toolboxes” so whatever we encounter we’ll at least how some things we can try whenever we have to deal with a new paradigm 1. I thought I did an OK job. If I had another couple of weeks I probably would have been able to tweak it a bit more for some additional polish, but in general I was happy with how things went 2. Someone even remarked that they were glad I didn’t use boring bullet points, which I found particularly pleasing 3.

It was weird being stuck teaching all day, though 4, because I felt cut off from the rest of the Biennial and had very little time to chat with others. By the time my teaching day ended I was mentally and emotionally drained. I tried walking around the the exhibitor hall, and managed to have a couple of semi-coherent conversations, but I had very little left in the tank. I was so wiped I opted to stay away from the evening session, I just needed a smaller group because I wasn’t fit for large-group interaction 5. Added to my sense of isolation was an almost complete lack of social media interaction among my immediate peer-group. This is how meet-ups and after-parties were communicated in the previous Biennial, so I felt the lack of chatter. It felt almost like I’d been kicked out of a club.

I’ll share some more thoughts on Biennial in the next couple of days. I need to chew a bit more on the hierarchy of status that’s on display at these gatherings before I can gather some reflections 6.


  1. My training that I’ve been to assumes people have the tools, and they just need to work on a finished product. This has not been my experience. 
  2. The projector I had was older than dirt, though, so the contrast was terrible. These are technical things I notice because I am a geek. And in the afternoon my energy was dipping, which led me to skip a section which would have made one of the exercises a lot more helpful. I feel like I short-changed that group a little bit. 
  3. Bullet points on a screen are almost always the person’s speaker notes. Seeing them drives me bonkers
  4. I repeated the track after lunch. 
  5. My friend Rick, from Accordance, is here presenting the software package. We grabbed dinner and then I crashed. 
  6. A big example is my name tag. It had no ribbons, which marked me as ABCUSA “unimportant.” People with three or four ribbons on their names were the people with status. 

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