Reflections on the 2017 Masterbuilders’ Leaders Conference
By Neil Silverberg
This year’s 2017 Masterbuilders ‘ Leadership Conference has come and gone but the memory of it will remain with us forever. I was talking with a brother again this year as we do every year about the impossibility of this year’s conference surpassing last year’s. Yet once again, we were proven wrong. This year’s conference exceeded our expectations in every way.
Sadly, brother Pete Beck Jr. and Jeff Oakes were unable to attend; Pete due to cataract surgery and Jeff due to his father’s surgery scheduled that week. We missed them greatly and because of the weight they carry in Masterbuiilders, their absence was felt. Turns out that during the conference (or just prior) Jane Beck fell and broke her ankle and Pete would have had to have gone home anyway.
Despite the absence of these two key brothers, the conference was a powerful time in the presence of God. There are a number of reasons for that but the key one is the place we have come to in Masterbuilders. Prior to the conference, the MB Leadership Team has been involved in several team meetings in which we discussed the future of Masterbuilders. Like many organizations and even churches, MB has come of age and we have realized the need to change if we are to remain viable. One of the things that has helped us along this path is the emergence of an Administration Team, consisting of Tim Atchley (who leads it), Reggie Holiday, and Mark Medley. This team has worked hard to take our vision and begin to help us define clear structures and pathways to achieving it.
Of course, any talk of structural change or administrative planning requires us to first be agreed on what our core values are. So we have spent considerable time leading up to the conference identifying and agreeing on our core values. To be honest, we are still working through this process and are not fully agreed on each one. but are continuing to dialogue. We now identify seven core values that define us: They are (not necessarily in order of importance) (1) the Gospel, (2) the Holy Spirit, (3) the Great Commission, (4) Fivefold ministry, (5) the Word of God,
(6) Relationship and Team, and (7)One New Man (diversity and multi-ethnicity).
I share that because we structured the morning sessions at our recent conference around three of our core values (and plan on doing the rest next year). We took these three (Holy Spirit, The Great Commission, Fivefold Ministry) and had a brother share for forty five minutes on each value; Tim Atchley shared on Fivefold Ministry, Mike Osminski on the Holy Spirit and Pete Beck III on the Great Commission. The rest of the morning after each brother presented his material was broken up into smaller groups to discuss the material, guided by questions each speaker presented. The morning closed out with each table having a presenter to present his group’s findings.
Two things made these times powerful: first, each brother who chaired the session was so very well prepared, and secondly, this gave the people attending a sense of ownership in the conference itself. There were many people who remarked how powerfully the conference affected them; especially the times with their group discussing the material. Hats off to Tim, Mike, and Pete III for being so well prepared and for allowing their groups to have this interaction.
In the night meetings we had determined to feature the first three of the fivefold ministry: a message from the apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic perspective. I opened the conference with an update on where we are at as a network and a message from Acts 6 dealing with apostolic practices (if we want apostolic results we must have apostolic priorities, prayer and the ministry of the Word). Reggie brought a prophetic perspective in a message entitled, “The Unstoppable Church” and Steve Fatow closed out the night meetings with a powerful word on evangelism.
What contributed greatly to the overall success of this conference was the choice of Garner Creek for the conference site. Many brothers will remember that that was the site of the Fivefold Ministry Conference we were part of from 1990 to 2000. God had put it on Pete Beck Jr’s heart to bring together fivefold men from several networks and we were greatly impacted by the presence of God at that conference. Being back there for this year’s MB conference brought back many memories. But being at an actual retreat center where we could all fellowship without having to split up into little groups was conducive to the success of the conference. The last night ended with a bonfire where we were cooking marshmallows and sharing with other.
Each pastor was asked at the conference to fill out a church survey to provide us with each church’s strengths so that we can do better in the future in drawing on the strengths God has built in each church. We also have a follow-up survey for conference attenders to get those who were there’s feelings about the facility and format of the conference. If you are a church leader and were unable to attend the survey can be downloaded from our website.
We are already discussing ways to improve this year’s conference but without a doubt, this year’s conference was a great success. The teaching and preaching was (as always) rich, the morning workshop format allowing each conference attendee to participate, and the beauty of the retreat surroundings, which allowed for rest and easy access for fellowship, made this year’s conference a smashing success.
If you were not able to attend, the video messages are posted on our website (mbfellowship.org). I would strongly recommend that you take the time to watch each message and get an overall sense of what made this year’s MB Leader’s Conference a time we shall not soon forget.