NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–John Garner thought he was ready for the hundreds of people who’ll attend Rec Lab’s 40th anniversary in Orlando, Fla., in January. Then, he got a phone call: The hotel hosting the event was closing … immediately.
He didn’t panic. “What looked like a disaster actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” said Garner, ministry team leadership director at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The new site for the Jan. 11-16, 2004, event is the Wyndham Orlando Resort. “The Wyndham is conveniently located and sits on 42 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds with lagoons, swimming pools and spas, a jogging trail, tennis courts and a health club,” Garner said. He added that the Rec Lab package “includes 24-hour health club access, free local phone calls, a waived 1-800 phone number access, daily newspaper delivery and more.”
Rec Lab is an annual international conference on recreation and sports ministry sponsored by LifeWay. It is a multi-denominational conference featuring instruction from practitioners in recreation and sports ministry. Garner said LifeWay is committed to Rec Lab and to seeing that professional and lay leaders get needed training to better minister to people through recreation. “So often,” he said, “a picnic, a ball game or some other recreational activity is the open door to bringing people into the church.”
In addition to conferences, this year’s Rec Lab participants will get tickets to The Super Show/2004. This event has 2,600 exhibitors showing products representing more than 300 categories of recreation equipment. Garner said Super Show offers “an incredible, diversified product mix that will open your eyes to what is available in recreation and sports ministry equipment. There are some breakthrough new products that will dramatically impact the leisure culture in which you minister.”
About 60 to 70 percent of people serving on Southern Baptist church staffs have attended Rec Lab at least once in its 39-year history, Garner said. “So many of them attended Rec Lab as a student or early in their church careers,” he said. “Rec Lab has had an amazing influence. We’re hoping anyone who has ever attended Rec Lab will come back this year for the 40th anniversary.”
Garner said that to his knowledge, this is the first time a venue has closed before a LifeWay-sponsored event. “Our Rec Lab team has learned a lot. Our church resources people have started sending out updated brochures, informational letters, and updated the website (www.lifeway.com/ev_ldr_reclab2004.asp) to reflect the changes. The folks in our event planning and registration areas are making calls and handling all the logistical changes for the people already signed up. Everything has worked beautifully.”
For more information, contact any of the Rec Lab team members: Garner at [email protected] or (615) 251-3848; Tommy Keown at [email protected] or (615) 251-2290; or Paula Rush at [email protected] or (615) 251-2577. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: EVEN BETTER.