We’ve got some big news to announce today. Our team has been working to maximize the benefit of this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference for those of us who pastor average-sized churches. Our speakers are drawn from that demographic. The Caskey Center, our major partner for this year’s PC, specializes in equipping what they call “smaller-membership churches.” Caskey has a number of program elements designed with us in mind: Common Ground Testimonies are one example. They’re also releasing new research at the SBCPC designed to strengthen smaller church leadership and health.
While this focus has been clear from the start, we also know some pastors of average-sized churches are unable to attend the Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting simply because of the cost. The expenses can be out of reach for some smaller churches. Their pastors would attend if they could—but this obstacle has stood in their way in the past. Our aim is to help some of these pastors be able to attend this year by blessing them with a scholarship for travel and convention expenses.
We think this fits incredibly well with our focus and vision for this year’s Pastors’ Conference and we are thrilled to announce it today.
How Does the Scholarship Program Work?
We will be awarding scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each to be used for flight, hotel, mileage, rental car, meals, books, resources—any convention-related expenses. Applicants will be asked a series of questions to make sure they qualify for the scholarship. Those who qualify will be awarded on a first-come basis until the funds are exhausted. For those awarded the scholarship, a $1,000 check will be mailed directly to your church, with a letter explaining that the funds must be used only for convention expenses.
We’re looking for pastors of churches with less than 200 in average attendance whose churches are either unable or unwilling to fund expenses to Phoenix this summer. By “unable” we mean that the church doesn’t have enough money to feasibly fund needed expenses for a trip to Phoenix. By “unwilling” we mean the church has the funds and the pastor has asked for convention expenses to be covered, but the church has refused that request. By applying you agree to use the funds only for convention-related expenses and to return the full scholarship amount if you do not travel to Phoenix. You also agree to attend all four SBCPC sessions and all SBC Annual Meeting sessions.
How Can We Do This?
As far as we know this is the first time a scholarship program like this has been offered. We have been blessed in our fund-raising efforts by The Caskey Center and our other sponsors so the cost of the conference is fully covered. In past years, a number of large churches have given as part of the conference fund-raising efforts. Since our costs have been covered before we contacted these churches, we wrote to these churches and asked them to contribute instead to this scholarship fund so we could help pastors attend the conference. We’ll recognize the churches who contribute at the PC and in the event program. The generosity of these large churches is what is making this scholarship program possible.
How Many Scholarships Will Be Available?
We will award as many scholarships as we can with the funds donated. We don’t know yet if that will be 5, 10, or 20 scholarships, but we hope that somewhere in that range may be possible.
How Do I Apply?
We will open applications Monday, April 10 at 11am Eastern (10am Central, 9am Mountain, 8am Pacific). You can apply by online form we will post here at SBC Voices. The application will be simple: contact information for you and your church, as well as a series of questions allowing you to agree that you meet the qualifications to apply. There is no judging criteria or decision to be made on our part: those who qualify will be awarded scholarships on a first-come basis, so make sure to apply early if you want to be with us in Phoenix.
So if you want to attend this year’s SBCPC and money is what’s holding you back, our prayer is this scholarship program will make it possible for you.