10 Tips for First-Time Attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting is quickly approaching. If you are attending for the first time ever, or it has been a long time, I hope this post helps you to take advantage of your time.


  1. Pre-register as a messenger.


Click here to pre-register. Trust me . . . I have served on the credentials committee, and it’ll be way easier for you if you do the leg work prior to your arrival.


  1. Know the schedule and mark important events in your calendar.


Click here for the annual meeting schedule and here for the pastors’ conference program. What I like to do is put in my calendar key presentations or times of voting, as well as the time of specific preachers I want to hear. My calendar gives me a ten-minute reminder. That way, if I’m piddling around the exhibit hall, I can have a reminder to get moving to the convention hall.


  1. Intentionally meet people.


Every year, I like to schedule a meeting or two (over coffee or a meal) with people I’d like to get to know. This is an obvious time to network with folks. Exchange contact info with new friends, then stay in touch afterward.


  1. Enjoy conversations in the hallways and exhibit hall.


Take your time. Walk slowly through the halls and enjoy getting to meet people.


  1. Leave space and weight in your suitcase for swag and books.


Thank me later. You’ll be glad you did this. Every year, the amount of swag increases, and the number of free books becomes overwhelming. Before I pack for the return trip, I always try to throw away whatever swag I know I will not realistically use. I leave books of no interest to me in my hotel room. Otherwise, you could haul a ton of junk back home.


  1. Understand the attire.


The SBC President has encouraged messengers to dress casually. I typically dress up more on Tuesdays than any other time because it is the primary day of business at the annual meeting.


For some reason, when I see people wearing shorts at the annual meeting, it bothers me. We’re adults at a professional conference. Most people are in jeans or slacks and a collared shirt.


  1. Avoid common SBC social faux pas.


Here are the “no no” faux pas of SBC attendees:


  • Name dropping (I’m guilty of this too often . . . oops)
  • Talking with someone while looking over their shoulder for a more influential SBC leader
  • Inappropriately sizing up people. This is done via the following:
    • Asking “How many are y’all running?”
    • Asking “What’s your budget?”
    • Generally trying to get a verbal version of their résumé
  • Bashing folks . . . particularly the opposing candidate of the person for whom you are voting
  • Gossiping
  • Talking about things when you truly are misinformed or ill-informed
  • Handing out your business card and asking if someone could recommend you to a bigger church
  • Lying about or embellishing your church’s stats
  • Speaking really negatively about your church and forgetting she is Christ’s bride


  1. Take care of your health and retirement at the Guidestone booth.


This is an underrated part of attending the SBC. One of the first things you should do is go to the Guidestone booth and schedule a time to go over your retirement and/or do a health assessment.


  1. Take a phone charger with you.


Either take your actual charger or one of the mobile chargers. You will burn through your battery. Between flipping through the #sbc18 and #sbcam18 feeds, checking your emails, and texting people, your battery will be drained by lunchtime.


  1. Vote.


Believe it or not, during times for important votes, there are tons of people just meandering through the hallways and restaurants instead of taking care of business. Make sure you vote!


In conclusion, enjoy your time at the annual meeting. It is a blast. See you there!

2 Comments on “10 Tips for First-Time Attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention”

  1. Don’t forget to learn the basics of Roberts rules of order. Don’t be the guy at he mic being ruled out of order.

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