“… refined by fire …”
1 Peter 1:7
We dreamed of a day to sit and pour into a group of individuals with their own dreams and aspirations. We dreamed of moments to hug and encourage and whisper “You’ve got this.” We prayed for a day filled with valuable education wrapped up in conversations that were easy, casual, and hopeful.
Those prayers and dreams came true abundantly this past weekend as we hosted the first Refined Conference.
God called you to do big things for His glory.
He called us to support and equip you on that journey.
The Refined Conference, held on September 16 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was designed to meet our guests wherever they were in their journeys and empower them to step out on faith for their next steps. We believe everyone has a story to tell—in business, in ministry, or in print—and our hope for this event was to help those stories come to life. We welcomed authors, bloggers, speakers, small business owners, nonprofit leaders, and those aspiring to any of the above, into the space, with the hope of providing encouragement and education for tangible action steps.
When we invited all of our incredible guest speakers to join us for this first event, we shared our desire for the day to feel personal, interactive, and valuable, while prioritizing on genuine connection and community. It was amazing to see and hear how the Holy Spirit prompted each speaker to share from their heart, with such great care and a powerful focus on Kingdom work.
Author and speaker Rebecca George reminded us that our calling is not all up to us, and that we get to be held by Him as we move forward and glorify God with the gifts and talents He’s given us, in her session “Preparing to Tell Your Story.” Suzie Eller, author, speaker, and book coach, shared the importance of inviting partners in to hear our unique messages, growing genuine community through sincerity and consistency, in “Let’s Build Community (A Heart Connection)”. These two sessions tied together just beautifully!
Our very own strategist Sara Ward led a tremendously informative session for marketing your message with purpose. “You just keep going to where God leads and that might take some time” and “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it” were two of many great takeaways from her session. Ruthie Gray, online marketing coach, offered simple and practical tips for managing social media and technology, while also encouraging healthy boundaries and seeking God’s direction, in the session titled “Embracing the Frenemy of Technology.”
In our final session of the day, author and ghostwriter Kent Sanders shared three often overlooked ways to grow your network through generosity. “We build a network because we value people and we build it by being generous.” The common threads in all of the topics covered were that of heartfelt connections and trusting God’s timing and direction, which were perfectly bookended in the closing keynote by Mandy Roberson. “My heart for all of you today is just that: Trust the process. Trust the Refiner. Trust that you are not in the fire alone.”
When thinking of other similar events and planning for ways this one could be different, we knew it was important to build in margin for the day, to allow our attendees to meet the speakers, our team, and each other. The afternoon schedule included a question and answer session with all of the day’s speakers plus our associate and colleague Ariel Curry. We opened the floor to questions ranging from branding to business and time management to communicating your message, and it was a sweet time of interaction that can sometimes be overlooked or missed in larger events.
Throughout the day, we also designated times for guests to shop our vendors’ and sponsors’ tables, including our Market Refined Publishing books, and enjoy sweet treats from local restaurants. (It was incredibly special for our team to see all of our authors and the works of heart featured on the vendor table! How amazing to see all that God has allowed us to facilitate in less than two years since starting our imprint!)
We were blessed to have nearly half our team join us for the weekend. Carol, Danielle, Maria, and Randi were present to greet attendees, answer questions, and ensure the day went as smoothly as possible, in addition to all of the many hours of planning and preparation beforehand. Though hosting our first conference was no easy feat, we certainly enjoyed the opportunity to be together and to spend the day caring for our guests.
Refined Conference spoke right into our hearts in a way we didn’t quite anticipate. God answered prayers in specific and intentional ways, and we are delighted to have felt His presence in the room with us. Encouragement and inspiration were abundant, and we are so grateful to each and every person who played a part in the day!