By Heather Quintana, Adventist Review / ANN
No one likes to miss out on a great opportunity or experience, but that just might happen with the fast pace of the General Conference (GC) session.
Here is a list of seven session highlights so you won’t miss out on a thing:
1. Make a pledge.
If the General Conference session reminds us that ministry is global and expansive, the President’s booth in the exhibit hall reminds us that ministry is also personal and small.
As a part of the church’s “Reach the World” initiative, the booth encourages you to think of one person you can reach for Christ after you return home. The interactive display allows you to make a pledge and take a photo with a sign of that person’s name (or their relationship to you, such as “my cousin”). Your photo will be added to the “Reach the World” map (http://reachtheworldmap.adventist.org).
“We all know that Jesus is coming soon, and if we all don’t ‘each one reach one,’ there are going to be a lot of lost souls,” said Tanya Holland, design manager for the General Conference’s communication department and one of the hosts of the display. “Our hope is that we all take this seriously, go home, and everyone reach one person.”
Reaching a person doesn’t have to begin with heavy theology, Holland said.
“Start by doing nice things,” she said. “Offer to help with their lawn or to babysit their kids. Start off doing little nice things, and then after that you can tell them what Jesus has done for you.”
2. Have a little (positive) screen time.
Often screen time—time spent on TV, movies, phones, or computers — can drain the spirit, but there are certainly exceptions. “The Creation: The Earth is a Witness” is one of them.
Showing throughout the week in the gallery of the convention center, this film will inspire and delight you with its spectacular day-by-day account of the biblical Creation week. With theater-quality sound and an original orchestral soundtrack, it will be shown in 18 languages.
“It’s the proclamation of the first angel’s message throughout the world, to every nation,” filmmaker Henry Stober said. “And the next thing that happens when God’s message is presented to the whole world—things move quickly. That’s the intention: to hasten the Lord’s return.”
Williams Costa, Jr., director of the General Conference’s communication department, said this is “a new way to communicate” the gospel and hopes attendees will host showings of the movie in their communities.
A number of other movies will also be showing in the gallery throughout the session.
3. Learn about church business.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the business sessions are only for delegates. Anyone can attend and watch the church in action (although only delegates may vote, and only delegates and invitees may speak).
“The church is very open, and this is an open meeting,” said George Egwakhe, session manager. “There’s no secret about it. You don’t even have to be an Adventist to come. Just come and listen. In other denominations, there is nothing like this. Nothing.”
Indeed, the Adventist Church is the only denomination to have global meetings on this scale to conduct business and elect leaders.
4. Take home new ideas and new passion.
Free pens and trinkets aren’t the only thing you can take home from GC session. Some of the most important things you can take with you are the ideas, resources, and renewed passion for ministering to your local community. Take the time to find out what ministries and organizations have to offer that could help you achieve your ministry goals.
In addition, pay attention to what other individuals and churches are doing. It may spark an idea for your own area. “When people hear the reports about what is going on around the world, they can learn from that,” said George Egwakhe. “Go back home and really push the work. To me, that is what is important.”
5. Pray for our church.
Leading up to this session, we’re focused a lot on the importance of unity. And there’s no better way to promote unity than to join together in prayer.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to meet up with other prayer warriors every day in the General Conference session prayer room. Take time to pray in the Alamodome, room F, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Various speakers will also be presenting a series of prayer seminars through July 10 in the Convention Center, Room 102, at 12:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.
6. Feast your eyes—and your spirit—at the “Mission on the Move” program.
Every special event needs a grand finale, and the General Conference session has one that will not disappoint. Formerly known as the “Parade of Nations,” the closing evening program on Saturday, July 11, is a celebration of the diverse world church. With inspiring pageantry, Adventist ambassadors from around the world will display the flags and costumes of their country.
“Nobody should miss this,” said George Egwakhe. “You will be hearing the good news of the work around the world from the past five years, and you will see many nationalities. You’ll see that the church is very diverse but united in mission.”
7. Leave a legacy.
The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau measures the impact of this event in two ways: the economic impact to the city, and the impact the church makes on the city, said its executive director, Casandra Matej.
Matej explained that the Adventist Church has made a major impact on San Antonio by providing $20 million worth of free medical and dental care to residents in April.
“It’s leaving a legacy in our area,” she said.
Don’t miss other opportunities to be a positive influence, whether it’s through organized opportunities, such as the young adult program “IMPACT San Antonio,” or through your personal encounters with locals at hotels, restaurants, or on the street.