By Dennis Wiggs
The annual Free Will Baptist convention meets at different locations. The young pastor is a standing delegate and has the right to register and vote during business sessions. The meeting also provides fellowship with believers of like faith. The preaching, workshops, and seminars send young preachers back home better equipped to conduct his ministry.Business sessions provide information about the progress and plans of the departments.
Hotel reservations should be made immediately when the housing date opens. Include your wife in your plans if at all possible. Make the decision whether to fly or drive? Which hotel to make reservations? Expensive! Yes. Determine how much can be spent. Will the church pay any or all of the expenses? Count the cost before making the reservations.
Read the Material
A handful of information is placed into the hands of the delegates when registering at the convention. It would be beneficial for the young pastor to lock himself in his hotel room for two hours to read the packet’s schedule, reports, plans, etc. Highlight pertinent information. Underline interesting reports that may not be very clear.
The young pastor may not understand all the methods of transacting denominational business, but a careful reading of printed materials will prepare the heart and mind for the preaching, special sessions, and business.
Reap the Blessings
Get your money’s worth! Attend every preaching service, seminar, exhibit, and business session possible. Take notes. Prepare a report for your church congregation.
Don’t be guilty of neglecting the Lord’s work by enjoying too much entertainment, sleeping too late, or spending too much time talking to friends. Pray for the speakers. Keep your daily devotional time.
Account for every penny by placing receipts in a special file. If it is necessary to pay expenses out of pocket, keep receipts for a possible tax deduction. If the church pays for the denominational trip, receipts should be returned to the church treasurer for reimbursement.
Use Financial Wisdom
Because attending the convention is expensive, the wise young preacher will cut costs and stretch dollars. Look for hidden expenses before making hotel reservations—parking, internet fees, etc. If you are alone, consider sharing a room with a pastoral colleague.
Find nearby fast food options. Most downtown restaurants are quite expensive, so scout out lesser-priced options.
Not “Heaven on Earth”
Denominational meetings are composed of people. People are not perfect. Different people see matters with different perspectives. Too many young preachers travel to the annual convention with the idea that everyone there is going to fit a certain mold.
The young pastor should make up his mind that he will listen carefully to what the other fellow has to say, evaluate the discussion prayerfully, and vote! Then, go home to Pastor that local, autonomous church to the best of your ability, remembering that the national association is a fellowship with no dictatorial power over the local pastorate.
Report to the Church
The young preacher can benefit the congregation by presenting an up-beat, optimistic report about the national meeting. How many missionaries are serving at home and abroad, the financial budgets, the goals set, the missions offering on Wednesday night would interest the average church member. Refrain from sharing a pessimistic, discouraging report to the congregation, although an open, honest presentation sometimes demands it.
About the Writer:Dennis Wiggs retired in 2004 after many years in ministry.
Adapted from Contact magazine, June 1998.