Conventions…Good or Bad (Continued)

Misconduct and misbehavior are convention evils! No sign of them is to be found in a convention of Protestant Reformed young people. It must be the aim of every conventioneer to uproot every appearance of these evils and to strive “to be holy and without blame before Him in love.” That’s a Protestant Reformed objective and to attain it, the convention of Protestant Reformed youth is but one various means. Use it, therefore, unto that end and remember in 1959 our theme is: Christ Our Life!
However, we hasten to add that the aforementioned evils are not the only things that disparage convention activity. Another evil is rooted in the error that conventions are just for fun! We do not say that there is no place for wholesome recreation during the days we are together in convention or that it isn’t and shouldn’t be fun to spend three days annually in convention with the young people of our churches from California to Michigan. A good ball game with Rev. Vos as umpire is exciting to watch and if you’re one of the participants, make sure the ump is on your side or else watch out! I remember from last summer. He called me out every time and I think he had delight in doing it. And when I made an error, he was elated! What’s more refreshing on a hot summer afternoon than a dip in the lake – at least for those who have aquatic blood. Then there’s volleyball, treasure hunting, shuffle-board and many more ways for youth to expend some of its irrepressible energy. Convention time is allowed for these things and they are properly figured in the schedule of activities.
Error creeps in when these activities are construed to be the main purpose in convention. We then lose the proper balance. The emphasis is placed upon the physical rather than the spiritual. We seem to los sight of the fact that “bodily exercise profiteth little but godliness is profitable unto all things having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (I Tim. 4:8) We commit, therefore, a serious error when enthusiastically we participate in the recreational part of the convention but manifest boredom, indifference and even absenteeism during the business meetings and the programs that are designed for our instruction and spiritual edification. Likewise we do wrong when we have no other interest in convention than to see that our bellies are filed at the banquet. Such errors are a blemish upon the convention. When we practice them we derogate the convention to a mere waste of time and expense. We do not have to travel hundreds of miles to take a swim or to play ball or to fill our belly. Although, as was said, there is and should be a place for the recreational in convention, that place is secondary. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven,” (Eccles. 3:1).
Another error that threatens the success of a good convention is the lack of proper programming. By this I do not mean that the host society if guilty of failing to provide adequate programs that are conducive to the spiritual objective of the convention. Neither do I have in mind now the failure of the selected speakers to explain the truth with concision, clarity and inspiration for the young people. These also may be termed possible errors but we have in mind the failure of all the societies represented in convention to cooperate in the preparation and presentation of assigned numbers for the various programs that are to be rendered. It is understood that arranging programs in which various societies are represented is not always easy, especially because of the uncertainty as to who is actually coming to the convention, but this necessitates, first of all, that care be exercised in the appointment of delegates so that as much as possible those members of the society are chose who: (1) are reasonably certain of attending, (2) are interested in the convention for its spiritual values, and, (3) are most capable of representing the society and contributing toward the good of the convention. A lack of society-participation in the conventions is a defect. This error is of such magnitude that it not only reflects individual laxity but what is still worse, when it is practiced, it indicates a defect in society itself. What I mean to say is that when a society has certain members who are periodically unprepared or who concoct something in haste the last minute without putting forth a serious and thorough effort so that the number given is unworthy of presentation or a mere mechanical reproduction of another’s work, and these members are delegated to the convention to reflect the same spirit there, the convention not only suffers but the impression is left that this society is capable of nothing better. And when all the members of a society are of such a caliber, it is evident that such a society is not going to make any worthy contribution to the convention. Hence, the point here is that successful conventions have their origin in good societies and these in turn are the societies whose members assume their responsibilities seriously. Convention planning must begin on the home base and where this is neglected, it is evident that errors will become manifest in the finished product.
These then are just a few more of the element that threaten to mar our conventions. Against them we must guard and this is a task, not alone for the Federation Board or hose society, but of every member in the Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies!
Will you then help to promote the good in conventions? Or will you be one who at home and abroad stimulates and encourages the practice of errors? You need not give an answer!

Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 2 March 1959