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2009 HOW Design Conference Wrap-Up Report

July 9, 2009 by

I’m a week late posting this, as I really struggled how to put the HOW Design Conference in words. It was really quite incredible to simply be invited to speak again, let alone the tremendous conversations that were started and continue to happen.

Those connections were the best part, but lets save the best for last, and start by talking about me. I’ve been asked by many what I talked about. I think I rewrote my outline alone a dozen times before finally settling on what to bring this incredible audience. I settled on:

  • Vomit : doing church with mediocrity makes God sick.
  • God : created in his likeness, creativity is in us and wants to experienced.
  • Nightclubs : it’s time we stopped hiding within the walls of the church and engaged with those outside.
  • Ninjas : it is time we moved away from us vs. them and linked the creative’s talents with the pastor’s vision.

Thank you to everyone that attended, the great questions that you brought (the best part of the talk in my opinion) and welcoming me so warmly. As promised we are giving away a ninja … actually 2 ninjas. The winners are…


Bobby Aspire of Community Bible Church and Jeremy Olimb of AbelDangerDesign. The ninjas are making their way to you.

I truly mean it when I say, my speaking was not the best part of the conference. The best part were the people. I met so many fabulous people in those few days, I continue to pinch myself for having the opportunity.

It started at the Design+Church+Lunch event after my session at the Iron Cactus where 40+ people came together and kept the conversation rolling. (Special thanks to Darcy for making it happen)

One of the really neat things were those that came up to me and just wanted to talk about the intersection of faith and design. Some of them had attended the session, and many had not (after all some of the greats like Von Glitschka, Cameron Moll and Neil Tortorella were speaking at the same time) but many were anxious to talk about faith and design. We talked about faith, the role it played in their personal and work life, how refreshing it was that HOW invited me to start the conversation … and of course how we all had a common thread of wanting church marketing to suck less.

Thank you to F+W Publications and HOW for bringing me in (hope to see you next year), thank you again to everyone who attended the session and everyone who came out to the lunch. Thank you to everyone who reached out and made connections. Please know it was an honor to share time with each of you.

Post By:

Michael Buckingham


With the goal of making the church the most creative place on the planet, Michael founded Holy Cow Creative, the church’s creativity and design studio. He is also the creative director for the Center for Church Communication and Church Marketing Sucks. You can find him speaking at conferences such as HOW, Echo, and MinistryCOM. Check out his blog, Jesus Hates Papyrus, where he continues to help the church intentionally reflect Christ in how it communications.
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3 Responses to “2009 HOW Design Conference Wrap-Up Report”

  • Darcy
    July 9, 2009

    Michael- thank you so much for giving us such a great presentation that was both interesting and engaging. There were a lot of things that you had mentioned that really got the wheels in my head turning- it was one of the best presentations I attended at the conference. And I absolutely loved Church + Design + Lunch @ Iron Cactus. It was great meeting so many people there- I enjoyed the conversations that were shared. I wish that we all could have had more time but hope that it will lead to more future conversations down the road!


  • John Keese
    July 9, 2009

    Michael, I really enjoyed your presentation as well. It was great that it wasn’t self promotion like so many of the other sessions were.
    D+c+l was great as we shared our problems and triumphs in marketing the Church from inside a church and outside.
    If you’re ever coming through the Dallas area, shoot me an email. My wife and I’d love to have you stay at our place!
    p.s. I can’t believe Jeremy (@abeldanger) got the ninja. He would…


  • Neil Tortorella
    July 10, 2009

    Hi Michael,
    Bummer that I couldn’t get to your session. I’m in the middle of a church site redesign and could have used your wise words. Alas, there’s always next time, I suppose.



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