'Building the Next Church' meetings scheduled for Dallas in June

CARROLLTON, Texas--Women's Conference 2000 in the Dallas area in March was so successful that the IBLC has decided to sponsor another conference, June 30 through July 2.

So announced Linda Hardy White of Carrollton, current chairman of the International Bible Learning Center, last month.

The June-July get-together, "Building the Next Church," will not be restricted to women; it will involve whole families and tackle the subject of what Church of God members can do to preserve the Church of God's legacy and values for the next generation.

Meetings will take place at Omni Hotel Park West in Dallas. Individuals and families from all Sabbatarian affiliations are invited to register for and participate in a "fun-filled weekend," Mrs. White told The Journal.

Dave Havir, who pastors one of the largest independent Sabbatarian congregations in the United States with roots in the Worldwide Church of God, and Ron Dart, president of Christian Educational Ministries, will speak at the conference.

"While conferences among Sabbatarian groups are typically personality-driven," said Mrs. White, " 'Building the Next Church' will use an approach of providing information-packed sessions from 10 additional speakers with front-line experience."

Inspired by a sermon

The "Building the Next Church" theme was inspired by a controversial sermon Mr. Dart delivered during the 1999 Feast of Tabernacles in which he challenged his listeners to "rebuild the church for the new millennium," Mrs. White said.

"After the trauma of recent years, the brethren have had a lot of thinking to do about their church, its origins, its problems and what Christ wants us to do next," said Mr. Dart. "It is time now to get together and share those thoughts with a view to the future. Even our ability to evangelize depends heavily on what the church does in the next five years."

The conference will offer a variety of "self-assessment tools" for groups and insights from market-research analysis, said Mrs. White.

"For example, a leading market-research firm reports that about 80 percent of U.S. church growth comes from transfer and biological growth, not adult conversion. Most growth, in fact, comes from church hopping."

The Churches of God are not immune to the trend. Growth in the United States for the Church of God (Seventh Day), Seventh Day Baptists, Church of God International, United Church of God, Living Church of God, Church of God a Christian Fellowship and other organizations has has been low or has even declined because of a variety of factors, said Mrs. White.

Seventh-day Adventists have posted modest gains in American membership during the past decade, in contrast with a tremendous surge in SDA membership in other countries.

"Building the Next Church" will focus on the concepts, data and theology relating to the health and future well-being of congregations and home fellowships. It will provide a forum and encouragement for Church of God members concerned about preserving their legacy and values for the next generation.

Family church

Topics will include: the church as family; toxic vs. healthy groups; the Church of God mind-set: fiction vs. historical reality; deconstructing the myths about what the church is supposed to do; a realistic perspective on church growth; personal evangelism; the role of women in the next church; conflict resolution for church groups; the coming cyberchurch; and the need for transparency and the sharing of information.

The conference will kick off with an open forum on Friday evening, June 30, to discuss the specific requests and ideas of participants and to air the results of an IBLC survey of the 20 characteristics considered most important in a congregation.

John Merritt of Oconomowoc, Wis.; George Crow of Katy, Texas; Rodger Sandsmark of Simsbury, Conn.; Dixon Cartwright of Big Sandy, Texas; Mrs. White; Wesley White of Carrollton (Mrs. White's husband); Melodee Overton of Hawkins, Texas; Alan Ruth of Detroit, Mich.; and others will also serve as speakers.

Seminars on the Sabbath will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. On Sunday they will begin at 9 a.m., with the conference concluding at 12:30.

Adult seminars are scheduled for the Texas Learning Center, a 300-seat, state-of-the-art amphitheater at Omni Park West. To offer the IBLC the Texas Learning Center at a discounted rate, the hotel requires that the conference commit to a minimum of 50 guest rooms for both Friday and Saturday nights.

Mrs. White said the IBLC will set up "special funshops" for children 4-11 years old and workshops for youths 12-18 on July 1. The two groups will meet in separate rooms on the Sabbath beginning at 10 a.m. and throughout the day.

If enough musicians attend, the conference will conclude the Sabbath with special-music presentations. After sunset Saturday evening, conference participants can participate in a family dance with live entertainment and door prizes.

Lodging details

Conference attenders are responsible for arranging their own lodging at the hotel.

Omni Park West in Dallas offers a discounted room rate of $69 (plus tax) per night for one to four adult occupants.

To qualify for this price, call the hotel at (972) 869-4300 and request a reservation during the "IBLC Building the Next Church" event. The Omni has a 48-hour cancellation notice and requires a major credit card or advance payment to hold a reservation.

The Omni is also extending conference participants a 5 p.m. checkout time Sunday afternoon as well as the discounted room rate through the July 4 Independence Day holiday (depending on availability).

"Conference participants can take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy a few extra days of vacation with their families," said Mrs. White.

"The hotel has an excellent view of fireworks displays and is only 10 minutes from the Dallas­Fort Worth airport and 15 minutes from Love Field.

Omni Park West is a full-service hotel, with an outdoor heated pool, a small private lake with jogging and bike trails, workout rooms with whirlpool and sauna, a restaurant, and free parking.

Each room comes with a small refrigerator, iron and ironing board, hair dryer and coffee maker.

(See more information at

As a family-friendly hotel, the Omni is one of the few U.S. hotel chains that have pulled adult content from its lineup of cable movies and programs.

Upon check-in, children receive colorful bracelets to identify them as "Omni Kids" and a bag containing an activity book with crayons and toys.

Young guests will also have the opportunity to check out a rolling suitcase of toys, books and games to take up to their rooms for entertainment. Each suitcase is customized for a specific age-group, either 3- to 6-year-olds or 6- to 9-year-olds.

At check-in parents can request a kit with first-aid supplies, a night light, outlet covers, a forehead thermometer and disposable swimming diapers for infants.

Depending on interest, the IBLC will also work with groups to arrange an outing to Six Flags Over Texas amusement park Sunday, July 2.

To register for "Building the Next Church," request a registration form by calling the IBLC at (877) 444-IBLC or (972) 492-3305 or by E-mailing

Send the completed form with a check or money order for the conference fees to IBLC, 4021 Randall Ln., Carrollton, Texas 75007, U.S.A.

Conference fees will increase by $10 per person after May 20, with registration closing June 9. Specific fees are listed on the form.

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