A conference for the whole family...

Conferences get a bad rap around here, and for good reason. Generally speaking, conferences tend to be about money and personalities and book sales and money and self-promotion and money and stuff, for instance. They're also a really great opportunity for super-spiritual people to go and listen to their favorite super-apostles so they can feel super-righteous about their super-awesome understanding of supralapsarianism or something like that.

But if you're like me, there are still a few conferences out there that you like the idea of going to...

I'd like to head out to Moscow some day and take in a Grace Agenda conference, for instance. Sadly, I never do. And it's not entirely because I'm allergic to the rarified air of conferences. It's just that, aside from all the general yuckiness that attends them, conferences aren't very practical. At least not for my family.

I have five kids under the age of six and we have a tight budget. Since most conferences don't make room for children, my wife and I would have to find someone to watch them all for a weekend. Our families live far away and so sending them to grandma's house is out of the question. Anyone want to sign up to watch my kids for three days? For free?

Didn't think so.

So where does that leave me? Leaving my wife at home with the kids while I pay close to a thousand dollars (after registration and travel and lodging and food) to run off and get my theological/intellectual/spiritual buzz on all by my lonesome? No thanks. I don't need to feel that spiritual.

What I want is a conference where I can take my whole family. A place where as much care goes into the program for the children as for the adults. A place where large families are welcomed and celebrated. A conference that feels more like a family reunion than a college lecture series. Complete with fantastic food and good fellowship. And real preaching on subjects that really matter—preaching aimed at confronting me with my sin and helping me honor Christ and love my wife and kids and serve my church and community.

And also, something affordable would be nice. There will be seven of us, after all.

We had our first summer conference in 2009. Which means we've been doing our best to think carefully about all of these things for the last six years now. Every year we think our summer conference gets a little bit better. A little bit more helpful. A little bit closer to the mark.

Come and join us this year and see for yourself. There are still plenty of spots available, though it won't stay that way long. If the past is any indication, registration will fill up and some people will be turned away. So register now, reserve your spot, and take advantage of our absurdly cheap early bird pricing ($50/adult, $15/child).

This year we're addressing what it means to confess Christ in the public square—a topic readers of this blog are familiar with and understand our commitment to. We'll have big picture plenaries (Doug Wilson, Stephen Baker, and Tim Bayly), very practical breakout sessions, good food, sweet fellowship, and a children's program that will make your kids excited to come back next year. You can read about that some here, but we'll tell you more about all of those things in the coming weeks right here at Baylyblog.

Jacob Mentzel

Jake has led Clearnote Church's ministry on the campus of Indiana University since 2008, and has served as the college pastor at Clearnote Church since 2010. He also teaches systematics at the Clearnote Pastors College. In his spare time, he acts as editor of the Warhorn, Clearnote Fellowship's quarterly publication.

Want to get in touch? Send Jake an email!


Amen on conferences and the "need" to have a good long time of separation from the family. But with regards to taking a bunch of kids in, two families have taken four and five of my kids in while the fifth and sixth were born. That was a blessing.

"Anyone want to sign up to watch my kids for three days? For free?

Didn't think so."

You might be surprised. When we had only one baby, we housesat for a family of six kids while the parents went away, a couple of times. They were 11 and under the first time, so it's not quite the same. And we did it mostly out of friendship, but were compensated with an offer of travel rewards points since the husband was a frequent business traveler (we wound not up being able to take advantage of them, long story) which not everyone is able to do, and I guess that stuff isn't transferable nowadays. But you just might find a young couple with few enough responsibilities of their own and be able to think up some kind of non-monetary barter that would feel like a fair return for their efforts.

Just this past February my wife and I took an overnighter to Cincinnati thanks to the generosity of many different folks in our congregation who were willing to shoulder the weight of watching our kids. They even seemed to enjoy it. Who knew?

And then we had a brother/sister combo of college students come and stay the night and take our kids to church the morning our latest daughter was born--just a month ago. Between Mary and Sarah and Emily and Anna and Tabitha and Ethan and Stacia and De and Emily and Dani and Hannah and Emily and Cole and Selena and others--we manage just fine.

My point isn't that our church body doesn't help us out. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My only real point in the post was that to come to our conference you don't have to worry about those kinds of logistics--by design.

You don't need to leave your wife or husband at home. And you don't need to arrange for the kids to be cared for. Just bring the whole family. You can register your entire family for less than the cost of one individual ticket to one of the high dollar national conferences and there's something for everyone.

For families like mine, that's a relief. A welcome one. And one more families should consider signing up for. We know families that plan their vacation around the conference and just stop in on their way to wherever it is they're going. That's something I'd like to see more of in the future.

Sure, I got that was your real point. But as it is written, the reader would conclude that either you painted an overly bleak picture to make your point, or your own situation was unusually unfortunate in that respect (which I am glad to learn it is not.)

>> But as it is written, the reader would conclude that either you painted an overly bleak picture to make your point, or your own situation was unusually unfortunate in that respect (which I am glad to learn it is not.)

Nah, it was just Jake being humorous. Didn't you catch the humor? I did. Thanks, Jake, for telling us about the conference. Can't wait for it!

We moved away from Bloomington after that first summer conference in 2009. Every year we've made the trek back with our small children (now four of them, all under age five)...and from much farther away than Iowa. So this video strikes a familiar chord. :) While we probably cannot come this year, it's not because the conference isn't child-friendly! The children's programming was wonderful and we've always been welcomed with so much hospitality. I highly recommend the Clearnote Conference!

Add new comment