NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Elgia “Jay” Wells is director of black church relations for Lifeway Christian Resources. Wells coordinated the July 18-22 Black Church Leadership and Family Conference event at Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center.
Following the event, Wells answered five questions for Lifeway News.
1. The Black Church Leadership and Family Conference is always one of Lifeway’s largest summer events. It fills Ridgecrest housing to capacity and several church groups stay in hotels in the surrounding area. Why do you think this conference is such a “must do” for so many churches?
Wells: Black Church Week is like a family reunion. It is a total experience for the entire family. The quality of the training and the fellowship seems to draw people back year after year. It is the only conference where all the SBC entities partner together to help and encouragement the local church at the same time.
2. You have several different preachers for the week. How do you choose the men who speak?
Wells: I partner with the other entities and we make a prayerful joint decision as to who the speakers will be. We are convinced that there are great men of God working in our churches who will bless any audience if given the opportunity.
3. Unlike some conferences, BCLFC has little free time built in. It starts at 6:15 in the morning with a morning praise time and goes until late at night with worship. There is just one afternoon off. Why do you have such a packed schedule?
Wells: We are convinced that people want what we offer. We try to give them as many options as possible to get their needs met. They usually want more than we can deliver. We have been surprised at the commitment level of the people who attend. They express great appreciation of what we offer.
4. School-age children attend the worship services in the evening with their parents. Gwen “Ms. Chocolate” Williams from First Baptist, Picayune, Miss., does a fantastic job with a children’s story time each evening. What do you want the children to learn from the worship time with her as well as with the preachers?
Wells: We want them to know that God is real and that He can be trusted with their lives.
5. You’ve always had a youth conference/activity time that meets during the week for the teenagers who come with their parents, but next year the week will have its own Centrifuge camp. What kind of impact will this have for the churches that attend?
Wells: The impact of Centrifuge will be that more churches will be able to bring their youth groups to Black Church Week. In previous years we didn’t have the space for this to happen. The need was evident, but we did not have the capacity to deliver this kind of life changing experience for youth groups. Centrifuge will provide the opportunity for our churches to more effectively be prepared to reach the youth culture in their settings.
by Polly House, Communications Department