Conventions…Good or Bad

There are things in life concerning which it may be axiomatically said that they are either true or false, good or bad. For example, this may always be said with respect to the truth of God as revealed in Christ Jesus in contrast to the heresies of men and the doctrines of devils. The former is good because it is right. There are no ifs or ands about it. When we are told or admonished to be holy in all things, there is no room for argumentation. God says, “Be ye holy.” He speaks the truth. His word is good. All of this is indisputable
Likewise the lie and vain babble of men, always contradicting the truth, is bad. It is per se bad. Thus, for example, no amount of reasoning with all the “yes buts” and/or abominable lie that “man is not be nature totally corrupt” and that “salvations is graciously offered by God to all men without distinction.” Such lies are inherently evil as the truth is good.
There are, however, other things in life concerning which it cannot be axiomatically stated that they are either true or false, good or bad. One of these things which is of concern and interest to us at present is the matter of conventions, particularly, our annual Young People’s Conventions.
Are they good? Or are they bad?
Perhaps one will say that it is too early to talk about conventions. We are still in the heart of winter (20 degrees below zero here in the suburbs of Chicago a couple days ago) and conventions are things we think and talk about when we begin to swelter in the summer heat. That this is not true will be readily admitted by those who have sweat and toiled even in the cold of winter in making preparations for those mid-summer events. That it is true will probably be claimed by those who belong to a society that from August to July forgets about conventions and then suddenly find themselves faced with the assessment-bill, conveniently ignored but now realistically overdue. But, then, they would also admit how wrong this omission of convention-thinking has been.
Yet it is not our purpose now merely to arouse in you a convention-consciousness but we are rather trying to stimulate in you some serious thinking about a deeper matter, – the good and/or bad of conventions! Merely to be convention-conscious may be good but it also may be very bad! That depends! Now the matter for us to determine is: “which is it for me?” Let us not be too hasty in answering this but remembering that a proper answer can be found only in the way of truthfully ascertaining what our individual attitude toward and conception of a convention is, we had better do a little convention-thinking first.
Right now, I am going to do a little thinking on paper. I’m going to think of the bad as well as the good even though the former hurts while the latter leaves me with a wonderful feeling of gratitude as I look in retrospect to some of our conventions. To be able to write only of the good in conventions would afford great pleasure but then justice would not be done to our Beacon Light’s department. We must see TRUTH vs. Error.
Error there is and I think that one of the first errors in convention that ought to be corrected before August 1959 is one in which both the parents and the young people must share the guilt. Young people sometimes like to use the generally accepted good-convention as a pretense for their own wrong doing. They really don’t care about the Convention but what they have in mind is to get away for a few days from parental control and supervision. They have in mind a good time in their own way. The convention only serves as a wonderful excuse for this purpose. Why, they may even prevail upon dad to let them have the family car since they are pursuing such worthy aims as attending the convention of the young people of the church. When then these adroits make their appearance, they spoil the whole thing. They are restless, fidgety and sometimes even disturbing during the speeches. Business meetings they seldom attend but you see them literally flying helter-skelter in their cars. When the day
S activity if finished, do they retire at a reasonable hour for their assigned places of lodging? No, for the curbs of parental restraint (if any) are now lifted and they apparently have no regard for those who have kindly opened to them their homes. And nothing is said yet of some of the conduct that by its being mentioned would only disgrace these pages. We are confident that those who practice such convention errors comprise a small minority but “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” and, consequently, it must be uprooted.
In 1959 the convention is to be in Oak Lawn and it may be said that if any (with hope that there none) have such evil convention-intentions, you are NOT extended a cordial welcome. We rather you did not come if you are going to bring these evils with you. You do not help us to achieve a successful convention, a goal toward which we are striving for months. You only mutilate our plans and mar our work and make our convention a disgrace to those round about us. We don’t want this and so we politely ask you, “Please stay away if you want to act like that. If you may do those things at home, then stay there, and if not, then don’t do them while you are at convention.”
And as to the parents!
Probably in many instances they are not aware of the behavior and mis-behaviour of their children at convention. They may assume that it is good for young people to attend the convention. They erroneously take this as an axiomatic truth and it may even gratify them no little bit that these children show such enthusiasm and interest. This is a serious error. They forget that if the child is not prepared for the convention, (and not only in years) the convention obviously is not prepared for the child. We must remember that top really attend a convention involves preparation, training and maturity. We cannot simply ship our young people to the convention site as cattle-men ship their live-stock to the market. If we do, the task of leading them falls upon the leaders of the convention but in directing so many at once, it is inevitable that some of impetuous ones will break the pen and run wild. Training begins at home. There our young people must be thoroughly instructed in the “whys, hows, wherefores, etc.” of conventions. Do you, parents, know why John or Mary want to go to the convention? Do you discuss with them the purposes of convention so that it may become evident before they go whether they really have an interest? When they return, do you inquire into the fruits and benefits they have derived during these days away from home? Do you impress upon them the truth that the same authority of God which is evidenced in your parental authority over them remains upon them while they are away and that under that authority their conduct must be ordered? If not, there are errors preceding convention, the effect of which inevitably becomes manifest in convention days!
But there is much more!
We want to write yet about the good in conventions and we will attempt later to offer some suggestions as to how the evil-errors may be dispelled and the true-good cultivated but this will have to wait for our space is already taken for this issue.
We hope we have succeeded in stimulating your convention-thinking and we’d like to hear, especially from you young people, as to what your thinking is about convention. Write us! Our address is: 9402 South 53rd Court, Oak Lawn Illinois.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 1 February 1959