FRESNO, Calif.—“It is easier to attend a conference than to host one,” says Chips Ross, pastor of Westwood Baptist Church. But when his church hosted the Bible Conference of the California Association of Regular Baptist Churches, he learned another truth: “It can be more blessed to host a conference than attend.”
The CARBC Bible Conference, Ross says, brought two key blessings. The first is hearing the preaching of God’s Word. Ross felt encouraged and challenged by hearing messages from the speaker, Pastor Jim Cecy, but hosting the conference gave Ross the opportunity to talk with him at length.
Fellowship is the second blessing of the conference, Ross says. Typically during a conference he is free from ministry and family responsibilities to engage in lengthy conversations with others in ministry. This time, even though he was continually preparing for the next event or being the master of ceremonies, he still enjoyed great fellowship and lengthy conversations with others, just not as many of those opportunities as usual, he says.
Brent Smith, associate pastor of Clear Lake Baptist Church, Lakeport, California, agrees that fellowship is a blessing of the conference. “It’s good to meet others, to know that you’re not alone on an island,” he says. “It’s also good to take a step back to recharge and reprioritize.”
Others may think that hosting a conference is stressful. And to that Ross says, “Sure, it wasn’t easy. But I discovered some hidden treasures: One, my heart is filled more with thankfulness to God for His blessings on the conference because I was very aware of how many things could go wrong—and yet, how many of them went flawlessly right!
“Two, our church family served, loved, welcomed, and encouraged. What a blessing to see the teens in our church giving smiles as they served dinner, to hear laughter from the kitchen as our church members cleaned pots and pans!
“Three, I attended the conference with many in my church!” Together the congregation was encouraged by God’s Word. After the conference, the church leadership team even discussed what they had learned and how they could implement those things in their lives and in the life of the church.
“Four, hosting the conference challenged us to spend much more time in prayer for this. And this gave us eyes to see how God answered those prayers.”
Although hosting the conference took a great deal of effort, Ross says he learned that hosting a conference follows what Paul records Jesus saying in Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
“Or,” Ross adds, “it is more blessed to host than to attend!”