So that’s what it is like to host an event. Oi.

Thursday was a long day. I left the apartment at 7:30 am and got back at 10:00 pm. When I got home, I poured myself a glass of wine, sat on my computer, and floated in and out of consciousness before finally giving up and going to bed. I was exhausted.

I knew it was going to be a long day for a variety of reasons. During the day, I was playing “host” to a social media bootcamp at the church I intern at. After that ended, I was going to help lead a confirmation class. And I was also involved in our Thursday night service. I was so wiped by the end of it that I couldn’t even publish the blog post I was hoping to write and I woke up on Friday with a headache. It was one of those days.

And I’ll admit that I stressed out about the day for weeks before hand. The social media bootcamp had been planned since September. A company based in the Mid-west puts these events on throughout the country. We offered to host one for Lutheran clergy. And, as the intern, I got involved. I never really hosted an event like this before or planned anything of this sort. And even though I wouldn’t be responsible for collecting fees or anything, I would be involved in recruitment. Recruitment isn’t my strong suit and outreach is still my weakest skill (I’ll probably write something about that in the future but, luckily, I don’t think it’s something I can’t learn). The event was located in the back of my head for months and I stressed about it. And the closer we got to the event, the more worried I was about it. Would anyone come? Would the wireless network hold out? How would it go? Would people enjoy it? Would it work out?

I’m a worry wart it seems.

Overall, the event turned out fine. The wireless network did not handle the presence of 25 people in the church. The cost of lunch was more than we originally planned. But the leader was engaging and people seemed to learn a lot from him. I was hoping that the event would be more about framing social media strategies for clergy and churches (which is what I care about) but it tended to be more about demystifying various social media tools (which is what most others care about). At the end, people seemed engaged, people enjoyed it, and I was worn out. I spent most of the time being, well, the intern. I setup the space, welcomed people, picked-up lunch, did tech support, sat in the back managing anything that went wrong, and tore it all down at the end. And that was rather exhausting for an event that I’m not sure I got a lot out of. The event, in a sense, wasn’t for me.

But I did learn some things. I learned how to do outreach. I learned how to talk to the deans of the synod. I learned how valuable personal invitations and personal networks were to get the event populated. I learned what people need at an event like this, what engaged them, and what was problematic. I also learned that, because of personal referrals on how good this event was, people were willing to travel to this event from all across the Northeast. I also learned what it means to host an event when another competing synod event was going on at the same time and nearby. I also was lucky in having good people around – people willing to help who were at the church for other reasons (Kate, Brian, and Julie – I’m thinking of you all here). And I also learned how to make coffee with a different type of machine – a skill that one of my colleagues said “is one of the most important skills in ministry to have.”

When the event was over, I was left feeling a little deflated. The blog post I originally wrote about everything was a tad negative because I focused a lot on what I didn’t get out of it. I didn’t really learn much from the speaker in terms of content and substance. He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know. Instead, I learned a lot about structure and form and…to be honest…I’m not sure how much that interests me at the moment. You would think, with my engineering background and my love of systems and systematic thinking, that the structure of the event would be where I found joy. But I didn’t. And I think, mostly, it’s because of what contrasted with this event: confirmation class and the Thursday night service. It was in those later events where I felt that substance, content, and structure were more intertwined and I had more…opportunities to combine those things together. I got to be involved in the content, in the substance, in what was being said. And, for the social media bootcamp, I didn’t feel the same connection.

I think, in the end, I’ve got to learn a lot about event planning but, well, it doesn’t speak to me very much. I wonder how much that will influence my future choices in ministry. Hmmm.