By Jessica Connor
How can the church do everything better—and attract new souls in the process?
That's the aim of a free daylong church leadership conference, Better, offered Sept. 26 to the S.C. Conference of The United Methodist Church by Chapin UMC, Chapin.
Headlining the Better conference are S.C. UMC Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston, national church author/speaker Dr. John Ed Mathison, former Gamecock quarterback-turned-coach Steve Taneyhill and Chapin senior pastor the Rev. Jody Flowers.
In addition to the speaker lineup and breakout sessions, focusing on helping participants become better church leaders in order to take their church to the next level, Better will also include lunch, snacks, giveaways and more, all absolutely free. Giveaways include a flat screen TV, iPad mini, Kindle Fire, $50 gas cards to the first 50 churches to register at least four people, 1.5 continuing education units for pastors, and more.
A conference of this magnitude happening entirely without charge to attendees is quite unique, Flowers said.
In all of our years of attending conferences, we have never experienced something like this, Flowers said, encouraging church leaders across the conference to attend. It's all free because of the generosity of Chapin UMC and because of their love for the UMC. About three years ago, one of our senior members came to me and said, ˜When are we going to do something to help other churches? The Better conference is an attempt to do just that.
Flowers said Chapin UMC is investing more than $20,000 in this conference because they have a strong desire to see what God is doing in Chapin be done across the state “ and across the denomination.
Chapin UMC was recognized in 2011 as one of about 30 U.S. churches named by the Foundation for Evangelism as a vibrant church. It had about 260 members when Flowers arrived in 2001. Twelve years and a lot of hard work later, the church now draws nearly 1,500 in worship each week “ nearly 1,300 more souls. Critical to Chapin UMC s rapid growth was their decision to become a dual-track church, placing exactly equal emphasis on both traditional and contemporary styles of worship.
We are very excited about the opportunity Better presents for both laity and clergy to come together and learn from each other, Flowers said. We truly believe Better will be used by God in some amazing ways to bring renewed hope and renewed vision to the precious hearts and churches of S.C. and beyond.
Already, two out-of-state churches are planning on attending, in addition to the many already registered from within the conference.