Why You Should Attend a Conference Outside of Your Area of Expertise


  • What am I doing here?
  • Do I fit in or stick out?
  • Will I learn anything?
  • Will I have a good time?
  • Am I just wasting my time & money?

These questions have stopped me from attending conferences and seminars. Really it is simple… If I have to give a day or two to anything it better be worth my time. And if its going to cost me a bunch of money? Too risky. 

It’s easy to say no

I made a habit of saying no to that much risk because it seemed reasonable. But one day I realized that those were debilitating questions. Those same questions were holding me back from discovering something new, something I might like, and preventing me from finding an even cooler opportunity.

Saying no was the easy, safe option.

Another reason I didn’t attend a conference outside of my area of expertise? Arrogance. After all, I get paid to speak at conferences. Heck, I create and host conferences… why would I pay to go and sit and lea… oh.

Yeah, that’s the definition of arrogance right there.

It’s more awesome to say yes

Out of excuses I’ve started saying yes a bit more. I’ll never be a conference junky but when one pops up that seems like a good idea I try to make it happen.

Here are 8 benefits of attending a conference outside of my area of expertise

  1. When I develop outside interests I end up learning lots about my area of expertise. 
  2. I realize how much cross-polination happens, I always meet people in youth ministry at non-ministry events.
  3. I build relationships with people I didn’t even know I needed to know, my life is richer for taking these risks.
  4. I’m amazed at how much I can learn in a day outside of my specialty.
  5. Investing in myself is never a poor investment. (Plus, as a self-employed person, it’s a write-off.)
  6. I learn a ton about the conferences I host by attending other conferences. I’m a better organizer because I attend outside stuff.
  7. As much as I like to think my vertical is unique, spending time in another vertical helps me see what’s actually unique and what’s happening in culture as a whole.
  8. I struggle to make recreation a priority, while not a day on the golf course, a day at a conference is a form of recreation.

Question: What’s the wonkiest conference you’ve ever attended? 

Categorized as management

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.


  1. The last time I went to a youth ministry conference I was so bored because I had heard it all before. Then I went to an after school conference. It was still youth but a different spin and more interesting.

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