KNOXVILLE – From February 29 through March 6, students within the Johnson University Tennessee Intercultural Studies and Congregational Ministry programs will attend the Exponential Church Planting Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The students will arrive at First Baptist Church, Orlando on the Sunday prior to the conference in order to help set up. While many will attend main sessions and workshops between shifts, the primary goal is to serve as volunteers behind the scenes.
“We have to set up tables and set up chairs and put up banners and help with registration and help with directing traffic to the different buildings and different rooms for workshops; all those kinds of things,” Brewer said.
According to Brewer, those who come on this trip will put in more than twenty hours of service in one week. However, they will only receive a maximum of six SALT hours for their efforts, because students are encouraged to continue serving and building relationships in the Knoxville area, as well.
“There’s only a couple colleges that come, but there’s people from churches all over America and…a lot of international people that come as well,” Brewer said. “There will be about five and a half thousand people there.”
As the largest conference of its kind in the United States, the ECPC depends on dozens of volunteers to keep everything running smoothly. For JU students attending a second time, this provides multiple leadership opportunities. New volunteers will be split into groups and given a team leader who is familiar with the conference setup.
“But what happens is a lot of big church planting organizations…host their own get-togethers in the evenings, and so in the past we’ve been able to go get free tickets to go for those things,” Brewer said.
There are other benefits that go along with participating in the conference. Volunteers enjoy the warmer weather of the south and spend time getting to know the main speakers while on break in the green room.
Since they help with the behind-the-scenes, students only need to bring money for a few meals as everything else is covered. in return for their hard work. In the evenings, they can attend events by various church planting organizations around town.