- Because it helps your pastors to “equip the saints for the work of service” (Eph. 4:12). Meet their need for training!
- Because state conventions do not offer it like they used to. Of if they do, it is too far away or it costs too much in time or money, so many pastors and churches who need it most do not participate.
- Because it shows the value of the association to pastors and their people – especially if you do not charge anything.
- Because you know the needs of your pastors, church staff, and churches better than any other denominational leader.
- Because the theme and keynote speaker can be a powerful way to inspire, equip, and motivate pastors and churches to collaborate together to fulfill the vision you have cast.
- What other reasons would you suggest?
- The best times to offer key leader training are typically in preparation for the beginning of the new church year – August/September - or January/February.
- A Saturday morning from 8:30am-Noon works really well for my association. Bi-vocational pastors and staff are generally able to participate. They really appreciate the association offering training when they can come. The hard part is getting your full-time pastors to attend.
- A weeknight may also work, but you generally have a shorter time frame – 7:00-9:00pm.
- Noonday Association, Marietta, GA and Gwinnett Metro Association, Lawrenceville, GA, combine some key leader training with their annual meeting on a Saturday morning.
- What other times/dates would you suggest?
- Have it at one of your larger churches who host conferences well. This will give your event credibility. You do not have to have it in the sanctuary. You could have it in the church Fellowship Hall or Gym. Make sure the size of the room fits the size of your projected attendance so there is energy and excitement about being there. The quality of the host church will rub off on the association. Leaders in your associational will learn from the host church how to do things better, and how to raise the bar on associational events.
- Doing so will help you build relationships with the pastor and staff of the host church.
- Doing so will cause the host church to see itself as a strategic partner of the association, where they may not have before.
- Doing so will cause the normative-size churches to appreciate the host church even more for supporting the association. The Lord may use it to cause normative size churches to believe in what you and the association are doing because of the “endorsement” of the larger church.
- What other factors need to be considered?
What are Some Do’s and Don’ts?
- Do not charge a fee. Budget for it and/or get sponsors to help with costs such as your state convention, your state Baptist foundation, other ministries, and designated gifts from some churches or individuals. At the Southside Baptist Network, we use Eventbrite for online registration and do not charge right up to Monday at midnight before the Saturday conference so we know approximately how many will be attending each workshop. Then we only charge $10 at the door. My association started offering this several years ago with a budget of $3500 a year. Now we budget $6000 a year.
- Do not settle for mediocrity. Don’t go into it unless you are planning to be “all in.”
- Do not have someone lead a workshop just because they really want to do so, though they would not be the best one to do so. Don’t have someone lead a workshop because of who they are, but rather because you believe their expertise, passion, and ministry experience will benefit your people.
- Do not do offer simply the same types of workshops year after year. If you do, people will not keep coming back – example, offering the same thing for adult Sunday School teachers year after year.
- Do be as generous as you can. “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” My association gives an honorarium to state missionaries based on how many workshops they lead because they are giving up a Saturday morning away from their families. We give an honorarium plus mileage to those who lead workshops from outside of our association who are not state missionaries. We give restaurant gift cards to those in our association who lead workshops.
- Do have a theme and a keynote speaker who will be a draw – especially for pastors. Have a different emphasis each year – even if you offer some of the same basic workshops every year.
- Do invite churches from other denominations and associations to attend if you have room. Be kingdom-minded. Greater the attendance often translates into greater enthusiasm, camaraderie, energy, and credibility.
- Do offer treats such as free Chick-fil-A biscuits and coffee if you can. My association does so from 8-8:30am before we start at 8:30am. The host church will usually provide coffee and snacks during the 15-minute breaks.
- What are some other ways you would suggest?
- Start planning nine months to a year in advance. It will help you get good leaders and get a prime date on the host church’s calendar before that date gets filled by a church event.
- A team from your association should do the planning. Have someone from the host church either on the Team, or as a liaison to the Team. The association should seek to match large church quality as much as possible in the way it plans and conducts the conference. You could use an “Associational Council” type team, similar to a Church Council, but call it something else like Leadership Development Team, Church Leadership Development Team, or Developing Leaders Team. Have key associational leaders such as adult Sunday School, student ministry, children’s ministry, preschool ministry, women’s ministry/WMU, music ministry, men’s ministry, deacon ministry, church office ministry, minister’s wives, community impact/evangelism, and of course, someone your pastors would like to hear.
- Enlist effective state missionaries to lead workshops, and ask them for recommendations of effective leaders from other associations who would be good workshop leaders. These often lead very well, and at very little cost to the association.
- Attention to detail is the difference between a good conference and a great one. The good is the enemy of the best.
- What else would you suggest?
Sample Schedule and Theme
Keynote: Dr. Leo Endel, Executive Director, MN-WI Baptist Association
Theme: Where Do We Go From Here?
Date: Saturday, August 21
Time: 8:30 am – Noon
Place: FBC Jonesboro Fellowship Hall and Educational Building
Cost: Free for those who register online by midnight on Tuesday, August 17; $10 at the door
Schedule: 8-8:25am Check-in/Free Coffee and pastries
8:30-9:30am Plenary Session in FBCJ Fellowship Hall
9:45-10:45am Workshop 1
11:00am-Noon Workshop 2
Your brother in Christ,
Quotable Quote: In Mark 6:45-52, why did Jesus send his disciples into that storm? He did it for the same reason he sometimes sends you into storms—because he knows that sometimes you need the storm in order to be able to see the glory.
For the believer, peace is not to be found in the ease of life. Real peace is only ever found in the presence, power, and grace of the Savior, the King, the Lamb, the I Am. That peace is yours even when the storms of life take you beyond your natural ability, wisdom, and strength.
You can live with hope and courage in the middle of what once would have produced discouragement and fear because you know you are never alone.
The I Am inhabits all situations, relationships, and locations by his grace. He is in you. He is with you. He is for you. He is your hope. Paul Tripp, 8.11.21, Wednesday’s Word: You Sent a Raging Storm