What I Learned at NAFWB’11
I love the annual National Association of Free Will Baptist Convention. Unfortunately, I have not been able to attend the past three, but there was no way I was going to miss this one since it was within six hours of home and my wife thought she could con her parents into keeping our 5 and 6 year olds. This was the first time I have ever been to the National without any responsibility so I had a lot of time to visit all of the exhibits and actually see what they were offering, see some of the NYC competition, the fwb21 panel, evening services, the tweet-up lunch, talk to a lot of friends and family, and generally just do whatever I wanted.
Because I had a little more time to observe and was able to have real conversations with more people, I was able to learn several things that many FWBs probably have known for a long time:
- All you can eat wings at Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch is a great idea.
- All you can eat wings for supper the same day is not a great idea.
- If you are looking for something to be offended about, you will find it.
- We Free Will Baptists treat the NAFWB evening service more like a political rally than a church service—we are listening to cheer for what we agree on and with a keen ear for anything we don’t. I wonder what would happen if that many dedicated Christians gathered in one place listened to God rather than the people talking.
- 4 of the FWB colleges were giving away lanyards at their booths while the other was giving away raisins. My 20 month old daughter is a big fan of California Christian.
- 20somethings do a great job of talking about bettering the denomination, but there were fewer than 5 in the business meetings. Perhaps that is because…
- There is no such thing as an exciting report.
- I will order food just because it has a cool name. My receipts for a Homewrecker burrito at Moe’s and a That’s How I Roll signature creation at Coldstone attest to this.
- Talking with those you disagree with is the first step toward denominational unity.
- Talking about those you disagree with is the first step away from denominational unity.
- If real discussion only happens once a year, we will need to re-take that first step every year.
- My generation thinks the disunity within our denomination is superficial, but I am pretty sure it isn’t. I realized this week that, out of fear of offending, we haven’t talked about the real issues for so long that a whole generation doesn’t know what they are or how strongly the beliefs are held. If our denomination is going to be unified in a way that it hasn’t been in my lifetime, we must discuss specifics without ad hominem and let each other know the real reasons for our objections.
- NAFWB delegates should be required to remove their name tags when smoking outside of the convention center.
- We are definitely a rural denomination. I had a hard time distinguishing the people who were visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame next door from the FWBs.
- There is a Bojangles in the Charlotte Convention Center! One worker told me they had another Baptist convention last week so I would be surprised if there is a single chicken still alive east of the Mississippi.
- My cousin told me that my great grandpa, George Scott, made the motion to make the Wednesday night service at NAFWB a missions-emphasis service. Since the missions service is always great, I’ll accept that it was my family’s idea without any documentation. (But if anyone has any, let me know.)