This past weekend my husband and I (along with two friends in the car with us, and a pretty significant amount of our church family traveling separately) attended the Fellowship Conference in Denton, TX.
Fellowship Conference is a huge deal in our circle. This year, you pretty much had to register within the first few days (maybe even hours!) of registration opening if you wanted to get accommodations on site, and it just a few days the limit on attendees had almost been reached. And the limit on attendees is almost 1,000.
Why is Fellowship such a big deal?
Well, just look at the name.
Fellowship Conference is a time when Christians can get together and worship, be fed the Word by some amazing pastors, and also have plenty of time to fellowship with our family in Christ. And that Fellowship is important, because it may be one of, if not the only time, some folks get to see each other in a year. And of course, it’s a great place to meet new people. Attendees come from everywhere. I didn’t even realize just how vast the scope of attendance was; I was only aware of people from about 2 states attending, but at this year’s conference, 27 states and 9 foreign countries were represented!
My Fellowship Experience
I had been looking forward to the conference for a year; I hadn’t heard of it until my then-boyfriend, now-husband told me about it last year. It sounded great, and I wanted to be able to attend this year. However, we didn’t register early, so we were not able to stay on site at Camp Copass. We knew we would miss out on some time of fellowship with those at the conference, but we decided it would be good to stay with family that lives an hour away, and get time with them while we were there.
And then, the day before we were to leave for conference, I wake up with a sore throat.
Not just any sore throat. A BAD sore throat.
I went ahead and went to work (subbing for first grade, as I had the day before), and it got better, at least for awhile. And then it got a whole heck of a lot worse. By the end of the day I felt terrible, and when I got home I cried about how awful I felt and about the possibility that I might miss the conference because of it.
But I got to feeling better as the evening progressed
So we went. We left later than we intended so I’d get plenty of rest, and because of the later start, we missed the first session.
On the drive down, I began to feel worse again.
So my husband and I went to the doctor the next day. And missed most of the second session.
But I got an antibiotic out of the deal, and started to feel better almost immediately.
Needless to say, my conference experience wasn’t exactly what I expected when I first learned about it a year ago, due to missing sessions and some time at camp. But despite a rough start, it was still a wonderful experience.
Sessions are in the morning and in the evening, and include singing and preaching. The morning sessions on Friday and Saturday also include a missionary speaker. Meals are provided on site (you must register for these when you register for the conference).
There is an amazing literature table, with so many books available for purchase that there is a book table tour (this year only Friday afternoon, in the past offered both Friday and Saturday), in which book synopsis’ are given and recommendations are made. There was also a bonfire Friday night that included s’mores and singing which was a lot of fun.
In between sessions, there is plenty of unstructured time to spend with friends, new and old alike, in recreation.
The camp is really spacious, so there’s a lot you can do with your time. There is a volleyball and basketball court and a mini golf course! We personally spent a lot of time playing disc golf with friends. And of course, you can just chill with friends by walking around the camp, or sitting in the caf or sanctuary area, chatting it up.
My husband and I weren’t super social this year; he said that he talked to less people than normal this year, and I only met a few new people. However, we got to spend some quality time with people that we already know but don’t get to see super often, plus the time we got to spend with family outside of the actual conference. So I’d say it was definitely a worthwhile trip full of fellowship nonetheless.
While the conference is called Fellowship Conference and thus time spent hanging out with others is important, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the preaching. If you make it to the whole conference and don’t miss any sessions (like we did), there are six sessions: Thursday evening, Friday morning and evening, Saturday morning and evening, and Sunday morning. That’s a lot of spiritual food to take in in one weekend.
In order to try to make the most of the time (especially since we missed the first two sessions, although we plan to go back and watch the livestreams later), I took notes during the sermons. This is something that I’ve only done here and there throughout my life, never consistently. However, I’ve recently been convicted that I should take notes during sermons while I am in a season of my life (read: childless) where I can. If I’m going to speak up about how there’s research to back up that physical note-taking helps us retain information better (spoiler alert: I’ve had that conversation with people before), then why am I not taking advantage of that fact by taking notes over some of the most important information I could possibly learn and retain?
All that to say, I’m glad I decided to start taking notes in time for this conference, because the messages were truly wonderful, and I’m glad that I have notes to look back on and study those passages with later.
Here are the two sermons I enjoyed most:
Charles Leiter is the pastor at Lake Road Chapel in Kirksville, MO. This is a very convicting message about the weightiness of sin, just how justifiable God’s wrath is, and how merciful he is in saving us.
Mack Tomlinson is the pastor at Providence Chapel in Denton, TX. This was the sermon from Sunday morning (Easter), and was about how Jesus restored Peter after he denied him 3 times before the Crucifixion. It wasn’t your typical Resurrection day sermon that deals directly with the crucifixion and resurrection story, but still deals with the restoration available because of the Cross.
*Note: if you are interested in listening to any of the other sessions, click here to visit the Fellowship Conference Livestream site. For now, videos are only available on Livestream, and you must have a Livestream account to watch, but I believe other videos will be uploaded to I’ll Be Honest soon. Creating a Livestream account is simple, with no obligation. Click here to create and account.
Despite starting off the weekend sick, the time at the conference was uplifting and truly a blessing. I would highly recommend this conference, and I look forward to attending again next year!