Published: 3 years ago

Why I Attended the Connections Confab

We’re celebrating our first ever Guest Blogger Week here on the blog, and we’re kicking it off with my friend Steven Murray, Director of Communications at Houston’s First Baptist Church.He’s been in that role for nine years and oversees the communications, promotion, and public relations of the church. Steven is married to Amanda and they have three children. Follow him on Twitter: @StevenWMurray.

Steven was part of our first Connections Confab that just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago. Want to be a part of this fall’s Confab? Learn more here.


An elderly man wearing a bowtie and a warm smile greeted me every Sunday morning as a kid going to a small church in a small suburb. First-time visitors were rare in our “context” (as we would say today) so everybody knew where to go and how to get there. But there he was — greeting each of us regulars like special guests, holding the door open for everyone entering our quaint sanctuary with a steeple.

In my late 20s, God brought me to a Southern Baptist megachurch in the heart of the fourth largest city in America. I had always been skeptical of large churches and was even leery of Baptists, too. (That may be exactly why God led me there!) But, a friend had invited me to go to church and I obliged with no small dose of trepidation. To my surprise, I soon felt more welcomed and “at home” at this huge church than I had in the small church of my youth.

Now, over 17 years after that first visit, I am the guy tasked with telling the world about Houston’s First Baptist Church and welcoming those who visit.

I give you this brief background so you know my mindset when it comes to the topics explored at the Summit’s Connections Confab — training, staffing, leadership, processes, follow-up, and more. Memories of a small church are still vivid in my mind, and that coveted “small church feel” in our large church is something I never want to lose.

So, experiencing Confab with peers from smaller churches was refreshing. They’re doing great things that I want to do at my church, and while not all solutions transfer to all settings, there are principles and practices that I can adapt to make them work for Houston’s First. I look forward to how that plays out.

At the same time, it was an honor to share lessons from our 174-year old, Sunday School-driven, Southern Baptist megachurch world. It’s been said that we learn best by teaching. A close second might be by simply sharing. As I explained what our church does and how we do it, I couldn’t help but self-evaluate — including asking, “Now, why do we do that?”

Regardless of your role in serving guests, what you do at your church intersects with what your peers do. From their first visit to the day they decide to join, guests encounter volunteers and staff members who are the faces of many processes, teams and departments.

  • Is their journey delightfully seamless or awkwardly bumpy?
  • Does one step smoothly transition to the next?
  • Are your guests’ experiences consistent or do some moments outshine the others — whether in execution, the heart behind them, or both?

Confab provides a valuable lens through which to examine what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. You’ll walk away with resources, ideas, inspiration, and more to enable you to enhance your connections ministry — bowtie excluded.


(photo: Lindsey Wachter)

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