Church Executive: How did CFX Expo get its start?
Jim Wagner: Our company has produced events, educational series, and media products for churches for the last 15 years. The needs of the churches are so different than they were 15 years ago, or even 10 years ago.
We felt it was important to create an event around planning, operating, managing and securing churches. That is the foundation of what CFX is. It’s for church teams to learn how to plan and operate their church. That includes worship technology and production; facility improvement, use and safety; and good management, financial oversight, and leadership to lead their teams and their congregations to where they need to go.
CE: What’s new for the CFX Expo in 2023?
Wagner: This year, we continue to focus on our three core areas, offering quite a large conference with more than 60 sessions. Our three tracks are worship technology and production; facility improvement, use and safety; and leadership and management. Our conference is comprehensive in each one of those tracks.
Based on demand, we have been expanding our coverage of safety and security. There is now a substantial offering both in the sessions and in the pre-conference master classes working around security plans. Not just active shooters, but active shooter de-escalation challenges, and more common events like emergency health situations and extreme weather conditions.
We have also added some new features which we’re very excited about. We have expanded our pre-conference master classes, which are a half-day offering on Monday, and include digging deeper into security and facilities, and a big topic around engagement and service planning.
Another exciting thing that we have created is the CFX Collectives — a deeper, more intimate gathering where smaller groups of team members will gather multiple times during the event, and work with a facilitator and a panel to discuss challenges, solutions, and create a plan to take back and implement in their own facilities.
We have a collective for administrators, executive administrators, facility managers, tech directors, and we have a collective that is geared around leadership or management, managing staff and volunteers.
CE: On a typical church staff, who is most likely to benefit from CFX?
Wagner: If you have two or three team members attending the event, they’re going to be much more productive and successful when they go home than a single individual might be. Some of these challenges require the involvement of multiple people and multiple departments. You might want someone from the tech team who can address that training and development. You might need an executive pastor who’s going to be looking more at finance, leadership, or HR challenges. A facility manager is going to be more focused on the facility itself, safety and security, and so forth.
In a nutshell, pretty much any challenge a church is dealing with — from an operation, to planning and running a church — we offer at CFX. A church can send the team to the event and go home and be very knowledgeable and more productive.
CE: Is there a benefit for an executive pastor or a church administrator attending the tech and facilities tracks?
Wagner: Yes. If a church is considering any kind of expenditure of funds, particularly in areas of investment, it’s important to understand all aspects of that project in order to successfully see it through to conclusion.
If you’re looking at a technology project, we have sessions that break down how to evaluate and select a vendor, how to address training and implementation. If you are planning a new build or redesign, we cover what to look for in a contractor, how to approach safety concerns and so on.
To make an effective decision, the executive pastor should be involved with the education of his or her team members. There is definitely value in being part of the research and evaluation process.
CE: You mentioned an expansion of the facility improvement and the safety tracks. What kind of suppliers and vendors are you expecting around that specific track?
Wagner: We’re expecting experts who will be focused on education around protocols and investments. We’re going to have vendors covering access control, security cameras and physical barriers. A big issue is maintaining effective security barriers while keeping access available, emergency notification, things like that.
I’m excited to see the response from the market. Historically, events like this have been more tech- and worship technology-centered, but as churches’ needs have changed, the categories of products have expanded. It’s great to have such strong coverage for all these areas that have demonstrated a need.
CE: If I’m new and I’ve never heard of the CFX or the Expo, what resources are available to help familiarize people with CFX and its mission?
Wagner: The website is the best resource for the latest updates and registration. Everything is outlined there — the tracks, the agendas.
I would also check out the educational features, which break down all the types of educational opportunities there are outside of conference. If we have 60 conference sessions, then we will probably have another 50 educational opportunities that are presented on the exhibit floor with exhibitor presentations, roundtables, panel sessions, and other things.