One area Independent Baptists are not lacking in is our full schedule of conferences and meetings. From coast to coast there are ample opportunities to attend meetings that will “re-charge your battery.” I enjoy attending many of these conferences throughout the year, but perhaps the meeting that has impacted my life and ministry most is the Spiritual Leadership Conference at Lancaster Baptist Church.
I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in late summer of 2008 to help re-establish a church that, at the time, consisted of thirty people. One of the things I felt was a priority for me and the future of our church was to get our leadership to see firsthand the work of God in a miraculous way. I decided that each year I would do my best to get as many people from our church as I could to attend the conference. The work that God has done in the hearts of our people who have attended has been invaluable to me as a pastor and to our church ministry.
In the last two years alone we have had more than thirty different people from our church make the trip from Charlotte to Lancaster for Leadership Conference. Here are a few things we have done in our ministry that you may do to encourage your laypeople to make this conference a part of their summer plans:
1. Highlight the conference on your annual church calendar. If you have a Vision Night, emphasize to your entire church family at the beginning of the year your desire to see them prayerfully attend with you.
2. Provide room in your church budget to help with expenses. Attending any conference is an expense, but especially if your traveling from across the country. Here are a couple things we do to help our people financially make the trip:
- Budget the full expense for your pastoral staff and their wives.
- Offer to pay at least the registration fee for all your lay-people attending.
3. Frequently promote the conference to your people. Hand out literature, share testimonies, and talk about it.
- Show the video provided by Lancaster Baptist Church to your people on a Wednesday or Sunday evening.
- Ask laymen who have attended in the previous year(s) to share a testimony of what the conference has meant to them personally. This has proven to be our best promotion.
- Plan an extra day before or after the conference to enjoy fellowship with your people. We have done this each year in some way.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask your church leadership to attend. Last year our church was entering into an important year of ministry. I felt it necessary for many of our church leadership and Sunday school teachers to attend. Be willing to sit down with your people and share your heart about the future of your church and how this meeting would be of value.
Never underestimate the influence of a conference like this on your people. It has changed me. It has changed our church.
The Lord has built our church in a miraculous way during the last three and one-half years. New adult Bible classes have been added yearly, and our soulwinning numbers have never been better. I believe much of this growth is due in part to what our people have seen, heard, and experienced at Spiritual Leadership Conference.