Nothing Beats a Front Row Seat!
I love sports.
I love playing sports. I love coaching sports. I love attending sporting events. I enjoy watching pro sports, college sports, the Olympics, or even some random high school football game airing on a local channel. If there is competition involved, I’m in.
Most of the time, if I am watching a sporting event, it is on television. However, on a few occasions, I have had the privilege to attend an important sporting event live. This past year, I saw the San Jose Sharks beat the Detroit Red Wings in “Game 7″ of the playoffs to advance to the Western Conference Finals. I am not even that big of a hockey fan, but the atmosphere in the arena was electric and something I won’t soon forget.
As a basketball coach and huge basketball fan, I fulfilled a dream a few years ago. My brother-in-law and I flew to North Carolina to watch the greatest rivalry in all of college basketball—Duke vs. North Carolina, live in the Cameron Indoor Stadium on the Duke University campus. I had watched many Duke-UNC games before, but this was unlike any game I had ever seen. To witness the intensity and passion first-hand was an experience of a lifetime.
I remember the loudest crowd I’ve ever been a part of. It was round one of the 2007 NBA playoffs. The eight-seeded Warriors were taking on the first-seeded Dallas Mavericks. The Warriors defied all odds, winning that game and the series. It was easily the most exciting event I have ever attended with ear-deafening roars from the crowd all night. The frenzy before, during, and after the game is impossible to describe or understand unless you were there.
This past month, our church hosted the 26th Annual National Pastors’ & Workers’ Conference. So, what does that have to do with my love of sports and experiences at live sporting events?!? Great question.
You see, we were privileged to host a couple thousand pastors & Christian workers throughout the week. People came from all across the country and some traveled from outside of the U.S. to attend. However, something interesting happened at this year’s conference. Our live streaming services shattered all previous records for viewers. In fact, we had more people watch the conference online than those that attended in person.
This led me to think, “Is it worth it to make the investment to be at the conference in person? Is there a big difference in what a person gets out of the conference by attending, as opposed to watching every service online?” This question caused me to ponder my personal experiences of watching a championship game on TV and attending one in person. There really is no comparison. Nothing beats being there in person!
I understand that sometimes schedule conflicts, financial burdens and other situations prohibit someone from attending a conference in person. In those cases, I am very grateful that they can be blessed and helped by watching the preaching and singing online. That is exactly why we offer all of our services live and archived.
However, if you are considering whether or not you should join us in person for our conference in 2012, let me share seven things that you will only experience in the “front row” seats:
- The Spirit
It is impossible to fully explain or experience the spirit of the conference unless you have been here. Simply put, the Holy Spirit’s presence is real and evident in the singing, preaching, fellowship, and every other aspect of the conference.
Our conference is a time of reunion, with many old friends reuniting and many new friendships forming. God’s people spend time talking, laughing, and praying together. Very often, you will walk into a local restaurant after a service and find several tables of friends enjoying food and fellowship together. This year, Mrs. Trieber hosted every pastor’s wife for a delicious meal one afternoon. It is extremely encouraging to see old friends and to make many new ones every year.
Delegates always leave our conference with many different resources and gifts. In addition to the items included with their conference registration, our gymnasium is packed with different ministry exhibitors offering a wide variety of resources to strengthen every person, family, and ministry.
- Personal time with Pastor Trieber and other men of God
Pastor Trieber has made an effort to be available for those attending the conference. Every morning, he invites the delegates to join him for a cup of coffee and some fellowship. He eats lunch with all of the other delegates and is available to talk after every service. In addition, the men of God who travel in as our special guest preachers are accessible throughout the week. I spoke with a pastor from Virginia, who attended our conference for the first time, and he was shocked that Pastor Trieber was willing to meet with him for a long period of time during the conference.
- Ministry Workshops
Throughout the conference, there are scores of individual ministry workshops offered. Specialized training is given in the areas of music, Sunday school, finance, soul winning, media, marriage, bus ministry, youth work, church administration, lay leadership, and many other areas. Every year, delegates tell us how these workshops helped them in their life and ministry.
All Baptists love food. Yes, you can eat popcorn while you are watching the live broadcast on your computer, but you’ll miss out on the delicious daily lunches and after-service fellowships in the Conference Café (not to mention the fact that In-N-Out Burger is only five minutes away).
There is something extremely encouraging about spending a week with a host of other, like-minded Christians. It does the heart good to share victories and stories of God’s faithfulness in valleys. Iron sharpens iron, and everyone could use a little sharpening. Every year, hundreds of people talk about how encouraged they are when they leave and how they had their “batteries recharged” throughout the week.
I could go on and on about how great the conference is in person, but I’m a “paid spokesman”. I’ll leave you with a few quotes from pastors and Christian workers who were at this year’s meeting:
I want to personally thank you for a wonderful conference but more importantly for the personal attention and hospitality you and your church gave to me and my wife while we were there. We have never felt “so loved” at a conference. It makes me think of this illustration. We used to love to go and watch the Yankees play in New York but it was far more exciting to go to Fenway in Boston and watch them there because we were so much closer to the players. We have watched and prayed for your ministry for years, but now we feel so close to you and your family.
– Pastor from New York
I appreciate the spirit of this conference. I was encouraged, revived, and renewed. Thank you!
– Pastor from Mississippi
The preaching and singing was heavenly. Exactly what I needed.
– Staff member from Arizona
This conference has changed my life. My wife and I have determined to attend every year.
– Pastor from Texas
I did not expect the outpouring of love and showering of gifts to me, my wife, and our church. The investment was enormous.
– Church planter in California
We would love to have you join us next year! If you have the opportunity, there is nothing like being here in person. Mark your calendars now for September 9-12, 2012. You’ll be glad you did!