Hundreds of pastors and small group point leaders gathered for this year’s Saddleback small group conference April 24 and 25 in Atlanta. It was clear that God was going to do something at this event because Steve Gladen’s trip to Atlanta was marred by two successive plane cancellations just to get out of Dallas. Then, the first day of the conference, Steve came down with laryngitis. By the fourth session, his voice was a frog, and he ended up using the video from the same session in 2008. On Saturday there were almost a hundred more small group hosts (leaders) that came for inspiration and training. Steve had the help of a few stand-ins for his main sessions, but he gathered what was left of his voice and wrapped up the day with a dramatic closing time of recommitment.
This year, the conference structure was changed in order to help churches that have been affected by the economy. Instead of three days, with over 50 workshops, starting at $259 for early registration, the Atlanta conference was two days, with two tracks and three workshops, at just $39/day for early registration. Some churches took advantage of the group rates and paid only $25/day for their team. As one registrant said on their evaluation sheet, “The price for this conference is unheard of. Hope you can keep it that way.”
New at this conference was the Leadership Think Tank session. This forum is for seasoned leaders who are already implementing the principles taught in the general sessions and wanting to grow their ministry to the next step. Reid Smith moderated the Think Tank session in Atlanta in which a roomful of leaders tackled some of the thorniest challenges to their ministries. This was a dynamic and highly rated session.