IF:Gathering’s Live Stream Experience

By Kristi Porter, February 24, 2016

I’ve attended numerous conferences and events, so I either know the drill or can figure it out pretty quickly. But I absolutely love it when one catches me by surprise, and that’s exactly what IF:Gathering did with its live stream.

As I sat in the audience with around 2,000 other women in Austin, Texas, earlier this year, I counted myself lucky to score a ticket to this coveted event. It sold out in minutes! But after seeing how well it fosters a community at home and around the globe, both during the event and throughout the year, at one point I actually found myself wishing I was part of the at-home experience, known as IF:Local.

This year there were approximately 2,000 IF:Local live stream hosts across more than 120 countries for more than 250,000 people. Its fans are unwavering in their devotion, and this was their Super Bowl.

Those of us at the main event were given cards with a particular IF:Local’s host information so we could pray for her during the two days. I posted mine on Instagram and found out she was the friend of a friend. It gave the event an entirely different focus for me, and made it personal in a new way.

IF:Local hosts were provided resources like a schedule, promotional items and discussion questions to make for an excellent off-site experience. Local groups ranged from individuals to just a few people sitting around a table to large 1,500-person crowds in churches. Even though they were far from the live event in Austin, we still felt connected to these groups. We even Skyped with one of the groups for a few minutes, and social media screens at the main event were constantly updated with IF:Local photos. And in a really innovative and thoughtful stroke, Amena Brown Owen, one of the on-site live stream hosts, surprised an IF:Local group by flying from Austin to Kansas to visit them on the second day of the event.

Ladies at Cedar Ridge you ROCK! Thanks for letting me crash your party! #ifgathering2016

A photo posted by Amena Brown Owen (@amenabee) on

Over and over again, it was reiterated that the on-site event was connected to a much larger community. Usually when I attend an event, I feel separated from everything happening outside of that building, and honestly I don’t give it much thought. But this was a terrific way to help us all engage in a larger story and community, and it was certainly fuel for many of us to make IF connections once we returned home.

Kristi Porter is event marketing director for Orange Conference. She previously worked as a freelance writer, communications manager and hospitality PR specialist. Contact her at kporter@rethinkgroup.org.

Photo credit: Moxie Collective

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