2020 Leadership Conference

Thank you to all of our attendees and speakers for a successful 2020 Leadership Conference. We are excited to announce that Dr. Thom Rainer will return as keynote speaker for the 2021 Leadership Conference December 6-7. Further details will be made available soon.

Seminars from the 2020 conference will be made released on the Better Together Podcast and on the Better Together Podcast Facebook on Fridays beginning January 8. 

3 for 30: Reach, Train, Give – Dr. Eddie Moody

Download Dr. Moody’s PowerPoint slides

Best Practices for Better Boards – Dr. Ron Hunter, Jr.

Download the notes from the session


Conference Program
Watch the Monday night session (Download Dr. Rainer’s Slides)
Watch the Tuesday night session (Download Dr. Rainer’s Slides)
Download Dr. Rainer’s Conference Notes

2020 Leadership Conference Focused on “Refreshing” Struggling Churches

Nashville, TN—The 2020 Free Will Baptist Leadership Conference returned to Nashville Airport Marriott December 7-8 for an in-person meeting, carefully socially distanced according to local COVID requirements. Pastors, church leaders, and denominational leaders from 22 states gathered to explore the important theme “Refresh,” with a strong emphasis on church health and renewal.

Monday and Tuesday evening sessions were highlighted by encouraging messages from Dr. Thom Rainer, founder and CEO of ChurchAnswers.com, an online community and forum for church leaders. During the two sessions, the prolific author and former CEO of LifeWay shared strategies for reviving the church in a COVID and post-COVID culture.

Rainer challenged churches to create a new “scorecard” for church health centered around conversion, small group attendance, and congregational ministry involvement. “COVID is not just crisis but an opportunity to reset, to rethink, to reimagine—to revision,” Rainer told listeners. “Following COVID, we’re all church planters, and the coming post-COVID era is an opportunity to make the necessary positive changes to move our churches forward. Go. Pray. Believe.”

On Tuesday, 16 speakers presented a full day of training seminars and workshops on a broad range of topics essential to building and maintaining a healthy church. Topics ranged from Creating a Strong Social Media Strategyand Best Practices for Better Boards to Faith and Science and Recruiting Volunteers. Many sessions ran over their assigned time slots, as the audience interacted with speakers and other conference attendees.

The two-day conference provided more than training, however. Attendees also renewed friendships during banquet-styled meals. Tables limited to four people allowed for deeper-than-usual interaction, and often conversations continued long after the meal concluded. Louisville (KY) church planter Rodney Brazil expressed his thankfulness for the meeting: “This was a most encouraging conference for these very discouraging days of COVID.”

A number of national boards and committees also met in conjunction with the conference, including Board of Retirement; the Executive Committee; Free Will Baptist Foundation; IM, Inc; and North American Ministries. Other boards met online, including Welch College and the 2020-21 Nominating Committee.

Reflecting on the meeting, Eddie Moody noted, “It was a great conference! We were so glad to welcome Thom Rainer. He is one of the leading voices regarding church health, and we encourage all Free Will Baptists, especially those unable to attend this year’s meeting, to make plans to attend the conference December 5-6, 2021, when Dr. Rainer will return as keynote speaker. We look forward to an event where registration won’t be limited by social distancing.”

Coming information regarding the 2021 conference can be found at nafwb.org/leadershipconference.



Thom Rainer Introduced as the Keynote Speaker for the 2020 Leadership Conference

Nashville, TN—The 2020 Free Will Baptist Leadership Conference returns to Nashville Airport Marriott December 7-8. Pastors, church leaders, and denominational leaders from across the country will gather to explore the theme “Refresh,” with an emphasis on church health.

Monday and Tuesday evening keynote sessions will feature Dr. Thom S. Rainer, founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before his time at LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 12 years, where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. Rainer is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led the Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights  and research to over 500 churches and other organizations during that period. Dr. Rainer has authored more than two dozen books, including I Am a Church Member, Breakout Churches, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, Essential Church, and Who Moved My Pulpit?

“Dr. Rainer is regarded as one of the leading voices in church health and revitalization,” notes Executive Secretary Eddie Moody. “We are glad to welcome him to the Leadership Conference, and we encourage all Free Will Baptists to take advantage of this opportunity to hear him speak.”

On Tuesday, a broad slate of training seminars will offer practical instruction on a number of topics important to building and maintaining a healthy church. More details regarding seminars and speakers are forthcoming.

During the two-day conference, attendees will renew friendships during banquet-styled meals, enjoy music from Welch College during evening sessions, and enjoy their stay in the award-winning Marriott property.

Find regular updates on this page as they become available.