The H2O Network hosted its Manmaker conference in Bowling Green this weekend. We had about 350 young men, from 9 different universities, together for 24 hours. This year’s theme was learning to be A Man Like David. So we looked to 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and the Psalms for inspiration from the king known as being a man after God’s own heart.
It’s pretty amazing to hear a room full of men singing worship songs at the top of their lungs (Friday night’s worship, led by the H2O Kent band, may have been my favorite part of the weekend). But we also studied the Bible… competed against each other in a nearby sports facility… wrote our own Psalms, as a way of learning emotional expression… ate a lot of delicious food… and learned about a wide variety of topics through workshops.
I was a part of the team that helped to coordinate everything for this year. Unfortunately, that meant that I didn’t get to hang out with many students at Manmaker this weekend — although there is one photo from the weekend that features me as one of three “Eric”s from H2O Kent.
On the positive side, though, it felt like our team was able to really meaningfully serve the network at this event. It can be quite the task to pull together all of the programming for the conference itself. And to feed so many hungry young men. And to clean up after the hungry young men finish their meals. And to keep all the facility’s bathrooms clean. And to create conditions that allow for all of the conference participants to get some sleep and showers and other basic necessities of life. And to give these men a chance to meaningfully connect with God and each other.
I’m not sure we fully understood just how complicated and labor-intensive it would all be, when we volunteered to coordinate everything. But after taking on the task, we put in a lot of work ahead of time to identify everything that would need to be accomplished. We delegated tasks among all the different leaders who would be on hand. We prepared carefully. And then we all executed the plans with excellence.
I’m really proud of the way we maintained the facilities (which happened to be one of my primary responsibilities). I’d been in contact with one of the facility managers throughout the lead-up to the weekend and throughout the weekend itself, and it seemed like our event was causing some stress (perfectly understandable, considering the challenges of hosting 350 college-aged men!). As I was talking with this person on Saturday afternoon, as the event was ending, she was all smiles saying that she was going to have to call her husband and let him know that she would be home in time for dinner, after all. The other facility manager also said that they’d love to host us again, any time. We didn’t break anything. We didn’t cause any toilets to overflow or sinks to spill over. These things may be easy to take for granted, but it felt like a triumph after everything we’d heard about coordinating Manmaker from those who have done it in the past.
The only way I was able to give such care and attention to the facilities, though, was because I knew that Jason had all the registration and budgeting issues locked down as tight as possible. Daniel and Brian were all over the programming and event flow, especially for the main sessions. Nick and AJ took on the workshops for the weekend (plus several other areas of responsibility), and they exceeded all expectations for what those workshops could be. I felt incredibly proud of our team by the end of the weekend. And also ready for some rest.