Perhaps you’ve been to a youth conference before, or a men’s or women’s conference. They’re great, aren’t they? You typically get fantastic speakers to speak on different things about God and what He’s done and you learn a lot and can talk about it with people like you. You probably take notes and get contact information from people you meet and try to keep in touch.
COVFAMIKOI (“Kuv-McCoy”) is a little bit different because it is a family conference. If you haven’t been to one you will probably have trouble imagining one. That’s okay. There’s next year.
There are a couple of striking differences between COVFAMIKOI and other non-family conferences. Both I probably should have realized before I got there, though of course I didn’t.
On the way to the conference I’m sure I thought at least once about how I’d just payed $200 and took 5 of my 10 vacation days allowed for the year to go to a conference. (I spent more time excited about my new car, both when it was and when it wasn’t running. I had simultaneous battery and alternator trouble an hour after we started our trip.) This wasn’t a problem when I was still in school and didn’t have a full-time job; I could take time off without pay. Wouldn’t my time be better spent vacationing? Well, no–because it turns out COVFAMIKOI is a vacation, and a pretty nifty one. Consider: A new location (though it’s the same every year–Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky), some of the best and most challenging exhortations you can find, plenty of free time, a guarantee that you will meet and really get to know people, free time to roam about, play games, or volunteer to help organize other activities, and of course all your food and lodging prepared for you.
There’s the first difference–this is a family vacation opportunity, and well worth the reasonable price.
The second difference should have been even more obvious to me than that it would be a worthwhile vacation, but the implications of it being a family conference didn’t come to me until things got started. Yes, there are seniors, and children, and young married couples, and high school students, and college students, and single adults. There are pastors and elders and deacons and Christians who are none of the above. It’s the simple difference between a homogeneous slice and a heterogeneous cross-section, right? But that doesn’t begin to describe the opportunities to speak with those with experience, or watch kids interact (or listen to them recite their memory verse so they can get your signature and try to win a contest!), or volunteer to counsel young people who request it, or just meet or hang out with people from the same or different stage of life. Those are priceless opportunities that don’t exist at other conferences on such a grand scale.
So, that’s what sets a family conference apart from other types of conferences. You probably don’t have to take my word for it that a family conference is going to involve people of different ages, or even that it is a pretty good vacation. But because I can’t compare COVFAMIKOI to other family conferences I can’t set it apart or give you more than my personal experience.
What struck me most was being repeatedly challenged in ordinary conversation with other single young people. My cowardly mind wants to talk about “important” things like how so-and-so’s church does something, or who might be interested in whom. These people, men and women alike, demanded that I be honest, give as exact and complete a response as the other person deserves, be bold enough to say the simple, profound ways Jesus has worked in me, and turn the conversation from trivial things to things that have lasting importance.
It was fun, too. A good, worthwhile fun not easily forgotten. Like other conferences, but different, and in some ways better. You should come next year.