Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Conference Speakers Schedules

     I have always wondered why a pastor who hosts a conference would announce the slate of speakers who have accepted invitations to preach but will not inform those considering attending who will speak when. If there is a lady speaking to ladies such an announcement is made. If there is someone speaking to young people such an announcement is made. However, with a slate of speakers who will preach to preachers and others in attendance such information is typically withheld, at least among Independent Baptists.
     I have always wondered at the logic of such thinking. Decades ago I attended several huge annual conferences hosted by a very big church, with female speakers and times announced, and with youth speakers and times announced, but no information was released concerning who would preach to the pastors and church members in attendance. Be there at 7:00 PM, but you will not be told who the speaker is.
     I have even called host churches at large conferences held in the upper Midwest and on the West coast to ask if the schedule for the conference has been set. When informed that it has been set, I have asked who of those invited will preach when. I have always been told that information is not available. When I ask why it is not available I have never been given an answer.
     Why, I wonder, is such information available to the women attending the women's session and the young people attending the youth session, but is withheld from the men (including pastors) attending the plenary sessions? In what other setting are people invited to attend a conference and are told the place and times of the conference, but are not told the times when speakers are scheduled?
     I wonder about the Baptist distinctives that I so heartily embrace, not the least of which is soul liberty. Am I not responsible to God for my spiritual condition and the choices I make? Or am I so incompetent that I need to be dealt with in a paternal and condescending way?
     Don't get me wrong. I don't lose sleep over this issue. However, I do occasionally miss out on a speaker I would enjoy hearing but for my unwillingness to sit through someone who I am not wiling to invest my time to hear.