The blessing of attending this year’s SBC Annual Meeting was made even more special because I had the wonderful opportunity to attend with my wife and children. In the past, I have observed other pastors attending with their families and it encouraged us to involve our teenagers in this year’s gathering.
It was such a positive experience that I want to share four reasons why I think you should consider bringing your teens to future SBC Annual Meetings:
1. They Realize They are Not Alone. There is something about entering a convention hall with 10,000+ other Southern Baptists that helps a person realize the magnitude of being part of the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Teenagers may at times wonder if there is anyone out there who believes like them but attending the SBC Annual Meeting helps remind them there are literally millions of Christians that support evangelical Christian values.
2. They Gain a Greater Understanding of the Cooperative Program. Hearing celebrations from missionaries, seminaries, church planters, and evangelism initiatives provides the opportunity to see how we are better together when we cooperatively fund ministries. Walking around the exhibition hall allowed my teens to converse with ministry representatives. An IMB missionary talked with my daughters for 20 minutes about future missionary opportunities. Sadly, every day we bury CP champions, and we need to do all we can to raise up a future generation of CP champions.
3. They Witness the Commissioning of International Missionaries. For me, the highlight of every SBC Annual Meeting is being involved in the commissioning of international missionaries. At this year’s meeting, 52 Christians were sent out by SBC churches through the IMB to help reach people in unreached people groups in some of the world’s most hostile places. Witnessing this moving service will hopefully leave an indelible mark on the lives of teenagers.
4. They Have an Opportunity to Participate. Southern Baptist polity gives each person an equal right to speak and vote on decisions of our convention. My teenager casting their ballot to vote carries the same power as that of a seminary president casting their ballot. While that may be scary for some, it is a beautiful picture that the Southern Baptist Convention is led by equal messengers and not a hierarchy of power.
*Bonus – this is not part of my list since my teens have not participated in it, but SBC offers Youth on Mission service opportunities for teens to help the local area. Hopefully, we will be able to check out those opportunities in the future. Next year’s convention is in New Orleans. I hope to see you— and your family— there!