5 reasons to attend SCBC meetings
It's probably the old geezer in me doing the driving, but today I'm headed to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to attend the annual meeting of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. So, the new world is instantly connected in dozens of portals and attending these sessions doesn't create equal buzz with the high octane substitutes that now compete for our convention expenses. Still, there's value in our gathering and I'll be there for the thirty-second time.
Five words come to mind when I reflect on attending another meeting. They're not the new language of our trendy pop church culture but are just simple descriptives of five of my personal take-aways from attending denominational sessions.
Two personal experiences exposed me to the behind-the-scenes prayer and
preparation that make a state convention meeting happen: serving on the
convention staff from 2001-2003; and serving as President of the SCBC in
2011. Hundreds of people are involved in establishing the annual theme,
planning the order of business, selecting preachers and devotional leaders,
arranging musicians and choosing worship selections, and all of the other
practical elements that make it possible for a large group of people to gather.
In every convention meeting since 1982 something or someone in that
dynamic mix---a theme interpretation, sermon, musical presentation, time of
worship, or an impromptu gab fest with some colleagues---has touched me
deeply. Knowing President Tommy Kelly, I'm sure the 195th edition will be no
exception. I'm expecting to be inspired this time too.
The Gutenberg Syndrome is always evident in state conventions. You know,
we'll be smothered in printed material before we ever make it to our seats.
But, that 's part of the deal about these kinds of sessions too. Our state
convention leaders and executive board, building staff, the presidents of our
seven mission partners, and the committees that see to our business between
sessions, are required to communicate their standing with our members. So,
there's usually some level of information overload when we get together. Still,
it's important information they give us in written and verbal formats. How
thrilling to hear their challenges and successes. Just the same, I am saddened
at times to know how many Baptists are uninformed about our work. As a
result, I'm looking forward to the latest info about what is happening in
Baptist life across our state.
Right out of seminary in 1982 several wise and tested pastors took an interest
in me and invested in my life. Convention time was always an opportunity to
express my gratitude to them over a meal or a cup of coffee, and an additional
opportunity for them to influence me. So, thirty-two years later I'm the older
guy and can't wait to interact with some of our younger colleagues because
they are ever willing to invest in this old guy even now. I mean, who can argue
with what happens in the exhibit area or between sessions? It is one of the
most impactful elements of these meetings, and I truly regret the number of
friends and colleagues who forego this two-way investment time.
Every time I attend a state or denominational meeting there's an infusion of
ideas, fresh approaches to mission, innovative ways to keep mission in focus,
and gratitude for being a small part of such a diverse and wide-spread
organization. This will be my first as a retired guy since I was out of the country
with the American Renewal Project last year at convention time. There will,
therefore, be a learning curve as I find new ways to channel this infusion into
this next chapter of mission service. But, I know it will happen. Something or
somebody will ignite something in me this week and I'll be different because
of it. It will be WOW time.
Every single gathering of the SCBC I meet someone new. It may be a
convention guest, someone in the exhibit area, or a new pastor or church
staffer in our state. But, my ministry life has always been enriched by
introductions to new people. So, this high relator can't wait to cruise the
exhibit area and shake a few hands and make some new acquaintances. What
One additional comment. I've always been a proponent of centralized meetings, That's at the state convention and SBC level too. If increasing attendance and participation is a goal, it can be best achieved by holding all state meetings in Columbia, and all SBC meetings in Nashville. OK, that's it.
Hope to see you in Spartanburg this week.