By Jojo Ruba
It's great to be part of a Christian conference. I love to see people from different walks of life coming together to listen to great speakers, mingle with strangers, and make some new friends.
That's why our conference theme this year was equipping Christians to be "Effective Ambassadors for Christ for Everyday Conversations." We didn't want believers to just come to an event—we wanted them to get back into conversations with friends and family about truths that really matter.
And based on the survey results, it looks like many people agreed that this was essential. Justin Wishart and Loretta Slomp looked at our surveys from the conference, and this is what they found:
We handed out surveys for people to fill out and hand in. We asked a range of questions from rating each speaker to how much people enjoyed our lunch. We collected 147 surveys altogether from a good cross-section of people. Out of this 147 surveys, 55 reported being males, 77 females, while the rest did not specify a gender. The ages ranged from 13 to 69 with the average age being 39. People seemed to really enjoy our main speakers with an average rating of 9.4 (out of 10). Our breakout speakers also were given a high average rating of 8.0 (out of 10). Our lunch received a 7.7 (out of 10) rating. The average rating for the conference overall was an impressive 9.23 (out of 10). Most encouraging was the response to the question of whether attendees would come back next year. Out of 146 surveys, 130 said yes, 3 said no, 8 said maybe, and 5 gave no response.
We consider this conference a great success. Many of the comments given were very encouraging and others offered constructive criticisms for us to make future conferences even better. Faith Beyond Belief would like to thank our volunteers and speakers who all worked together to put on this amazing conference. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Foothills Alliance Church for being such wonderful and gracious hosts. We hope that people were impacted and now have some tools to be able to speak truth into the lives of people in everyday conversations. While Be Ready for Everyday Conversations 2015 was a success, we hope that people consider this as a great first step. Faith Beyond Belief is planning bigger and better conferences, although this one will be hard to top. We also provide talks, training, and resources throughout the year for anyone interested in taking the next step.
Here are a few quotes from attendees about the conference, along with their gender and age, if given:
"I was initially disappointed thinking this was a youth conference, but our youth (most) were engaged and glad it was not dumbed down for teens."
"I've had some exposure to apologetic sermons and talks, but this is my first experience of listening to someone first-hand. I was encouraged just being in the presence of so many people enthusiastic about conversing about Christ."
"I learned so much—a weekend of intellectual conversation, loved it."
"I wish there were more than one each year so we can stay bulletproof in our faith"
"A great opportunity to learn the truth in an open environment."
"It was super! I learned so much and look forward to coming to more things like this."
"Very informative, very thought-provoking. It made me think and now have tools to talk to someone about Christianity."
"This conference helped me clarify my own thoughts about homosexuality, relativism, and the resurrection."
"Amazing presentations. How often do you hear about apologetics, porn and hell in church? Seldom if at all, but these topics are important."
"Great information, relative to my life. Things presented could be helpful in my everyday conversations."
"The speakers were clear and the information was practical (stuff I'm actually going to use)."
"I have for a while desired practical theological answers and definitions on everyday arguments against my faith. This conference has provided me with that knowledge."
"Surprised by what a good job you did. Exceeded expectation. Well-organized. Price point value, excellent facility. Quality snacks—fruit. Focused towards Jesus versus focus on intellectual arguments."
"It was incredible. I didn't want it to end."
"My daughter, age 16, grade 10 attended. This was her first Christian conference and in attendance with mom. Happy that we could share this together."
"This conference really informed, encouraged and inspired me to be Christ's ambassador in my church and university community."
"The Hell topic was why I signed up to come. I am looking into that topic right now."
"I learned a lot and am feeling more confident in defending my faith with my (hard-core) atheist husband."
"I wish I knew what I know now, the points were stupid-proof, how could I not know the easy answers to the hard questions."
"This time around the topics had 'bite' to them! Also, the pre-conference events were great."
"Loved it! I think apologetics is a fabulous and important facet of Christian life so it was great to improve my training."
"Greg Koukl and J. Warner Wallace were wonderfully concise and clear speakers. I am no longer able to accept Christianity as a 'nice club' to belong to. I need this substance to validate Jesus and the Bible."
"The benefit of this conference is that it whets our appetite and helps us know what resources we can dig into further."
"Like a spring of water in a dry and thirsty land. Need this! So grateful that my 15-year-old could be exposed to this amazing conference."
"I enjoyed the conference and how it stressed everyday conversations."
"All the speakers were fantastic—hearing about homosexuality was very helpful."
"No fluff—very practical."
"Thank you for the conference. I think it'll help me in the future. I might even go talking to the people on campus with Power to Change at some point."
"I am a lay person serving in youth and young adults ministry. They were asking me the questions discussed here. I feel more equipped and able to articulate my faith."
"So organized! Great content. Thank you to all of you!! Awesome experience. You guys are so appreciated. Mad love for you all. BTW, I loved the program guide book."
At the end of the conference, I met a woman who was skeptical about apologetics. She said she didn't find it effective and didn't like how it alienated people. But then she attended our conference and it completely changed her mind. She realized how important it is to know what we believe and then to share that truth with gentleness and respect. Rather than leaving it out of her ministry now, she wanted to integrate it in her work. I even saw her buy Greg Koukl's Tactics book to show her commitment!
Though we loved putting our conference together, our ministry isn't about a conference or an event. These are merely means to an end, not an end in itself. We want the conference to be a launching pad for Christians to winsomely engage their culture and to share to a hurting world that they too can have reason to hope.