NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A new ministry from LifeWay Conference Centers is designed to bring special high-value and high-quality training events to participating churches, their staffs and their lay leaders, beginning in 2003.
The Next Generation: A John Mark Project is being developed to offer today’s church leaders and key lay leaders a quality training experience to impact both the present and future church.
“It’s not just people on the church staffs who are interested in this level of training,” said Ron Pratt, national event planner for LifeWay Conference Centers.
The John Mark Project gets its name from the young man who went on a missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas. John Mark left the group to return home. Later on, when Paul was in prison, he called for John Mark, who by this time has matured and developed into a leader of value who would impact the next generation for Christ.
Churches who sign on as a part of the John Mark Project will receive benefits from the conference centers above those offered to most conference center customers:
— There will be one exclusive John Mark Project church training event per year at Ridgecrest and/or Glorieta. This event will be specifically designed to meet the needs of the churches that participate in the project. Attendees will receive a 50 percent discount off of the published room rates, as well as discounted meal prices for this particular event.
— Any leader or member from a participating John Mark Project church may attend any additional LifeWay Conference Center-sponsored event anytime during the year and receive a 30 percent discounted room rate for that event.
— Any John Mark participating church will receive a 25 percent discount on published room rates for any church-sponsored event at either Ridgecrest or Glorieta. These events could include staff planning retreats, staff and family get-a-ways, committee/team training events or a worship planning team get-a-way.
Pratt added that additional benefits for John Mark participating churches will include:
— Opportunities for church leaders and members to leave behind the stress of their daily routines and enter into an experience designed to get them away from those schedules.
— Opportunities for participating churches to give input into the selection of dates, breakout conferences, conference leaders, keynote speakers, schedule, etc.
— Opportunities for participating churches to impact future generations of church leaders through the development of the John Mark Conference Center Reserve Fund. This reserve fund would be established to enable the LifeWay Conference Centers to partner with the churches in providing current and future generations of leaders the quality training they will need to impact their generations for Christ.
Pratt said three levels of participation are available to churches through the John Mark Project:
— Platinum level: An investment of $10,000 per year would allow participating churches to send up to 30 leaders to the annual exclusive conference with no conference fee charged. More than 30 church leaders may attend the event but will be charged a conference fee of $199 per person. These churches will get a free set of audio/video tapes of the event.
— Gold level: An investment of $7,500 per year would allow participating churches to send up to 20 leaders per year to the annual exclusive event with no conference fee charged. More than 20 church leaders may attend but they will be charged a conference fee of $229 per person. These churches will get a free set of audio tapes of the event. Videotapes of the event may be purchased at cost.
— Silver level: An investment of $5,000 per year would allow participating churches to send up to 12 leaders per year to the annual exclusive event with no conference fee charged. More than 12 church leaders may attend but they will be charged a conference fee of $249 per person. Audio and videotapes of the conference may be purchased at cost.
Pratt said it is the intention of the conference center planning team to use 50 percent of the fee to conduct an annual John Mark training event for participating churches. The other half would fund the John Mark Conference Center Reserve Fund for future generations of leaders to experience this same type of quality training.
A John Mark Project Advisory Team, consisting of LifeWay’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs Mike Arrington, National Director for LifeWay Conference Centers Bryon Hill and Pratt, will give management, oversight and leadership to the John Mark Project fund.
Pratt emphasized that while this advisory team will work with the logistics of the project, the participating churches will plan the actual annual events.
“We want this event to meet what the churches see as their needs. They know what they need better than we do,” Pratt said.
Pratt said he is now enlisting churches that want to be involved in the project.
“The churches I have talked with so far have been enthusiastic about the idea and most have committed to participating in it,” he said, adding that the timing for these churches’ decisions is important so that they can get approval for this project to be placed in their 2003 budgets.
Walter Guillaume, minister of education at First Baptist Church, Wichita Falls, Texas, was one of the first to say he wanted his church to be involved.
“I’m hoping that as I carry the key leadership in our different areas of ministry to the events, they will develop their leadership skills. We have a large church, but we still need leadership classes to help us develop our skills,” he said.
Guillaume added, “I’ve gone to both conference centers many times over the years and I have wonderful memories from my experiences there. I’m looking forward to taking my leaders and staff back there.”
Mike Potter, executive pastor at The Heights in Richardson, Texas, said his church is signing on because of the leadership training opportunities.
“The most crucial resource for the future church is not land, buildings or resources, but it’s leadership. It takes time to develop leaders. There is no shortcut,” he said.
Potter added that one thing he has made a priority during his time at The Heights is to get training for his church leaders.
“Here in Dallas there are a lot of leadership training possibilities. But, outside of maybe John Maxwell, most of the high quality training has been secular. Many lay people in our church have a lot of good secular leadership training, but we want them to get this leadership training with a spiritual element,” he said.
“It’s a great thing to give churches this option. The larger churches have felt for some time that their needs weren’t being met,” Potter said. “I think this will be a good thing.”
Additional information about participation in the John Mark Project is available from Pratt by telephone at (615) 251-2065, or by e-mail at [email protected].
Both LifeWay Glorieta and LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Centers are owned and operated by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.