On falling attendance at the NC Baptist Convention (Part 2)

In part 1, I mentioned the different aspects of the state convention that could encourage greater attendance numbers. Now I want to put some of those thoughts together; then offer a few suggestions more making the state convention a more compelling event.

When it comes to people making the decision of whether or not to attend, I think most of the evaluation comes down to the different categories I mentioned yesterday: voting (unity & apathy), information, good speakers, good music, friends, exhibits, and breakout sessions. For each of these, I argued that none of them by themselves were enough to get the average pastor or layperson to the meeting.

I can imagine someone pointing out, rightly, that individually they may not be a compelling enough reason to attend, but together they should add up to enough that people should want to be involved. And I think that's mostly right. It's obviously enough to get about 2,000 people there this year.

Take a look at this interest scale. Think about each different aspect as a drawing point and having a certain value. When you add those vaules up, you get the final interest level. I think most pastors are somewhere between "only if you drag me" and "looking forward to it."

The question for raising attendance numbers is simply raising the interest level in a few or all of the different aspects. This will help bring in people that may be on the fence about whether or not to attend.

By the Way... Duty Won't Work
A note for anyone out there who thinks people should attend the state convention out of a sense of responsibility or duty: It won't work for the younger generation. Younger people are not going to attend just because "they should." Thinking that way or promoting that idea will likely just alienate them more. The job is yours to make them (us) want to attend.

Some Suggestions
So how do we raise the interest level for the different aspects of the convention? I don't want to simply throw stones or criticize without throwing my own hat in to help with a solution. Here are a few ideas:

Focus on getting one or two nationally recognized speakers or pastors and feature them. Let them preach two or three times, lead a breakout session, and make them available to those in attendance several times. Mark Dever came close to this last year with the convention sermon, a breakout session (or two?), and his willingness to stand out in the foyer and talk with everyone who wanted to wait around long enough to speak with them.

Worship Time
Make two or three worship service type gatherings. No business, no promotion. Just worship music, Scripture reading, prayer, preaching of the word. Set aside an hour or an hour and 15 or 30 minutes.

Business Sessions
Do them as quickly as possible, then get out! This is an important part of the convention, but it needs to be done efficiently. I think they do a good job of this in some ways, but having different parts spaced out so much makes it seem longer and more drawn out than it is. Have two or three intense business sessions, apart from everything else, and get everything done, including election of officers, in those times.

Breakout Sessions
Work hard on getting breakout sessions with excellent leaders, interesting topics, then publicize ahead of time. Make this a true time of equipping for ministry. I think this happens to a certain extent already, other than the publicity. Take it from good to great. We also need descriptions on these sessions. Last year I went to one that ended up being nothing like the title suggested - and I had wasted one of the sessions when there were other things I would have rather attended.

I hope these will provoke some thought and be a help to our leaders. If the BSCNC is going to continue to make an impact in this state over the next 20 years, something is going to have to change that inspires the under-40 generation to get involved.

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