Contact Info Subscribe Links



Keith Burden and Randy Bryant

about god's business

Numbers Decline in Convention Business Sessions

by Tim York



Find out more about the 2008 Free Will Baptist National Convention at

Photo: Executive Director Keith Burden and Clerk Randy Bryant


IN RECENT YEARS, THE NUMBER OF DELEGATES who attend the Free Will Baptist National Convention business sessions has dropped dramatically. In Little Rock in 2007, at any given moment, fewer than 200 people made up the voting block. This is a dangerous trend when you consider that this handful of people made decisions on a budget of nearly 30 million dollars—decisions that will affect the course of the denomination for decades to come.

What makes the trend especially disturbing is that many pastors and delegates have simply found other ways to spend their time. While golf is a wonderful sport and the convention is a great time to relax and renew friendships, we convene with a primary purpose—to represent our congregations in the business of the denomination. We must protect our doctrine, guard our spending, and define our vision and purpose. Sometimes, this means sacrificing worthwhile things like youth competition or an appealing seminar in order to carry out the purpose of the convention.


Keith Burden and Randy Bryant


Let me be blunt. Through the years, I have felt an ethical responsibility, whether sent by church or state, to attend the business sessions. At times, I have even missed the competition performances of my own children because I felt the weight of responsibility to those who entrusted me with their votes and paid my way to make my vote possible.

Polls make it clear that the American public harbors deep resentment against political officials who miss legislative sessions or skip important votes while in public office. We must avoid being guilty of the same offense on a smaller scale.

It’s true that business sessions are not always fun. In fact, they often seem tedious compared to the excitement of the convention swirling around it. Yet those who skip business sessions miss their opportunity to hear denominational leaders share their vision and passion for the future. They are robbed of the encouragement that comes from taking part in an organization that continues to expand across the globe, and they rob their own congregations of their voice within the denomination.

It concerns me that pastors and leaders are not making themselves available to become contributors and leaders on a national level. Active participation in associational activities makes the denomination stronger and more unified, taking advantage of the wide diversity of talent within our ranks.

Many young adults think denominational business does not affect their lives—at least not yet. But what we do today in convention business will affect their churches and ministries throughout their lifetime. Today’s decisions have far-reaching impact on the direction and success of the Free Will Baptist denomination. History is made within these meetings. Will you be part of it?

Insert chart of business attendance since 1998 by percentage rather than number.


ABOUT THE WRITER: Tim York has been the moderator of the National Association of Free Will Baptists since 2003. He is the pastor of Woodbine FWB Church in Nashville, TN.



Hal Jones, Chesapeake, VAwhat makes a good convention?

The editors of ONE Magazine asked Tim York how Free Will Baptists could make this year’s convention a success:

What makes a good convention attendee?

  • A good attitude

  • Enthusiastic participation

  • Love for Free Will Baptists

How can Free Will Baptists make a good impression on a convention city?

First, pray. Our convention should be bathed in prayer for months in advance. Make it a part of your daily list. Ask God to soften hearts, preparing them to receive the gospel.

Second, take part in ministry opportunities. IMPACT West Virginia is a one-day evangelistic campaign to the greater Charleston area. Free Will Baptists from across the nation are encouraged to arrive at the convention one day early to participate in this unified effort on Saturday, July 19.

From door-to-door evangelism to work projects at homes and local churches, Free Will Baptists will flood the area with the Love of Christ.

During the week, volunteer for Reach That Guy events. These events, sponsored by the National Youth Conference welcome adult volunteers as well as junior high and high school groups. From soup kitchens to daycares, the Salvation Army to shelters, Reach That Guy provides opportunities to serve the people of Charleston.

Finally, consider the following practical suggestions:

  • Be kind to your servers.

  • Leave good tips.

  • Be nice to the maid. Don’t “trash” your hotel room.

  • Tip the valet, even when it takes a long time to get your car.

  • When things do go wrong, keep your cool.

  • Say thank you to policeman, security guards, and other city personnel who go out of their way to make our stay safe and enjoyable.



©2008 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists