“...and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,” Ephesians 4:23
Well, we survived the holidays! Most of us experience a lull in our church calendar during the first few months of the year. I have grown to appreciate the slower pace and opportunity to catch up on all those little projects from pastors and staff. Then, just as things begin to feel normal, it’s Easter with all the special programs, concerts, decorations and packing every chair that will fit into the sanctuary. And just like that, our stroll turns into a sprint! Calendars turn into roller coasters, seasons roll by, and days are filled with peaks and valleys of activities. Like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”, many days are the same routine over and over.
After six years, the routine was beginning to wear on me. In 2006, as soon as Easter passed, it was time to plan for Vacation Bible School. The thought of VBS was depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I love VBS. I came to Christ as a child on Family Night of VBS. Three of my grandkids accepted Christ as their Savior during VBS. I love VBS! Forest Hills Baptist Church goes all out for VBS week. I was amazed at the planning, praying, decorating, rehearsing, and set building that went into that week. Normally, I would be fired up thinking about VBS. This year was different. I felt tired. My joy was gone. I thought there was something wrong with me. I have since learned that burnout is a common problem of church facility managers.
“He gives power to the faint, and to him that has no might He increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29
At that time, I had been a member of the NACFM for six years. My impression of the organization was very positive. I loved the Forums and had dozens of questions answered. I had attended both weeks of CP training. Not only
did I learn a lot, I also made some lifelong friends. I enjoyed reading the research papers members submitted to become certified. I considered the NACFM to be a great resource that made my job easier. The Forums alone were worth more
than the cost of membership! But..., I had never attended the NACFM’s national conference.
There were several reasons for not attending. Location was one. For the last five years, there had not been a conference close to me.
I was concerned about the cost of hotels and airfare in addition to the conference fee. Timing was another issue. Conference dates often overlapped dates for VBS week. I had attended two WFX conferences and an IFMA event that were
either in Nashville or close by. I enjoyed them and learned a few things.
Earlier that year, I found out that the NACFM conference was going to be in Knoxville, TN. That was only a three-hour drive for me. I was excited and
decided to register. As time grew near, my enthusiasm waned. The conference started two days after our VBS ended. I was tired and felt drained. On top of that, I would have to leave home early Father’s Day morning. My wife was not
a happy camper with the timing. I almost decided not to attend, but, in the end, I headed to the Knoxville.
When I arrived at the hotel, the Board of Directors were personally manning the registration table. After checking
in and receiving my conference schedule, one of the Board members told me that some of the attendees were hanging out in the room where the evening reception would be held. I hesitated thinking that this would be like the other conferences
I had attended. Those conferences usually had over a thousand attendees with very little interaction taking place. My assumptions were totally wrong. When I entered the room, there were small groups of people discussing various topics.
Several people welcomed me and invited me to join their conversations. In the first five minutes, I heard a couple of discussions on issues that I was dealing with at my church. They were talking my language! I felt right at home.
started with a member led devotion and a time of praise and worship. What a way to start your day. I was pumped!
The next few days were filled with speakers and breakout sessions that educated and inspired me. Topics covered
almost every area of my responsibilities as a Church Facility Manager. Leadership was always emphasized. Our spiritual needs were nourished daily.
The evenings included voluntary group activities that allowed us to get to know
each other and continue conversations on relevant topics. All the activities were family friendly. The fact that there were spouses and children at the conference really surprised me. What other conference not only allows family involvement
but encourages it? There were even organized activities for the spouses and children. I have enjoyed watching many members' kids grow up over the last 13 years.
As the end of the conference drew near, I felt sad. I hated to
see it end. I had never felt that way about a conference. In those few days, I had;
• Learned many new things from the sessions
• Learned many new things from informal discussions
• Was exposed to new products and vendors
• Found new resources to make my job easier
• Strengthened my walk with Christ
• Made new friends
• And had fun!
We are naturally drawn to people with whom we have things in common. I had just spent a week with a group of Godly men and women that do the same thing I do. They face the same problems and issues
that I face every day. They understand what it is like to work in a church environment. They understand that our job is a ministry. They love my God and Savior. They cared about me!
As I drove home, I realized how much my attitude
and energy level had changed. I couldn’t wait to share my experience with my facilities team. In fact, some of my coworkers mentioned that they sensed a difference in me. When my supervisor asked me about the conference, I told him
that it was the best investment the church could have made in me.
I was already looking forward to the next year’s conference. Could attending the NACFM’s national conference cure your burnout? Possibly. I still face the same problems. My church calendar is still a roller coaster filled with
highs and lows, but it doesn’t wear me down like it used to. Do you need a change of scenery? Do you need to recharge? Would you like to be a better Church Facility Manager? Would you like a closer walk with Christ? Would you like
to have some fun? Are you feeling burned out? If so, come join us in Chicago for our 25th anniversary conference. Come get your batteries recharged!
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12
Blessings to you all!