Planning Our Church’s Annual Conference for Pastors

By | December 29, 2021

One of the privileges at our church is hosting an annual conference called “The Conference on the Church for God’s Glory.” We have hosted it seven times since I have been here. It’s been running since 2003 and was started under our previous pastor.

Our church does not belong to any associations, and it has allowed us to have a network of relationships to pastors, ministries, and schools that we would otherwise not have. For me personally, it has allowed for friendships with many pastors, speakers, and institutions that I’m sure I would have otherwise never had. I’m grateful that’s it’s somewhat of a staple for our church, as much work and attention as it might be from year to year.

Others have kindly said some things about our past conferences. Click the links below to read more:

Kevin Bauder, “The Rockford Conference” (2017)

David Gunn, “Drs. Bauder and Beacham Speak at God’s Glory Conference” (2019)

Paul Scharf, “Sensing God’s Glory in the Church” (2021)

Michael Riley, “Among Yourselves” (2021)

Kevin Bauder, “CCGG 2023” (2023)

What follows below is a brief list of questions that go through my mind when I plan our church’s conference each year. I don’t sit down and meticulously answer each one, but this would be more or less of an intuitive grid in my mind when planning from year to year. I also informally talk to friends of our ministry, fellow pastors, professors, and so on to get a sense of how to make the conference benefit those who come.

Choosing a Topic

  1. What topics are pressing for churches and pastors today?
  2. What topic could our speakers address in such a way that would help the pastors, deacons, and other church leaders who regularly attend our conference?
  3. What topic would be helpful for our church as we all listen in while hosting the conference?

Inviting Speakers

  1. If I died today, would this man be able to give our church a solid reference for a future pastor?
  2. Is this man not only a leader in his own church or ministry but also recognized as a “leader among leaders” in some way? Pastorally? In his teaching? On a particular topic?
  3. If he has not been previously recognized in such a manner, can our conference provide a platform for his obvious giftedness to benefit the body of Christ in a greater way?
  4. Though his church or ministry may not look exactly the same as ours or have the same ecclesiastical heritage, is this leader conservative and consistent in his theology and practice? Is his pattern and direction in ministry fitting with our church overall?
  5. Is this man a separatist from false professors of Christianity and disobedient brethren? Does he distance himself from brethren with whom he significantly disagrees?
  6. Will this man preach an expositional message well or address a topic with expertise, whatever his speaking assignment may be?
  7. Does this man agree with my church’s statement of faith?
  8. Does he at least agree with the “fundamentals of the faith” (inerrancy, miracles, the deity of Christ, His second coming, etc.) even if we disagree on distinctives such as baptism, dispensationalism, the ordo salutis, etc.? And if we do disagree on some distinctives, is this disagreement handled charitably?
  9. Does this man serve in one of the colleges, seminaries, or ministries well-known to our church and the regular attendees of our conference?
  10. Has he spoken for our conference before? If not, does he fit the general character of speakers from the past?

There’s no magical formula for making a stellar conference, but our church always hopes to bring great speakers and allow for time for fellowship among the men. Refreshments and coffee are a plus. Sometimes camaraderie among the speakers brings a unique sense of unity that ties the day together in a special way. One way or the other, we’ve tried to make this conference a blessing each year through careful planning, from speakers to snacks, and a willingness to hear and act on feedback from those who come.

Updated 5/27/23