Convention: Speaker’s list never specifies time slots for each speaker – typically 3 or 4 workers are listed for the AM meeting, the PM meeting, and the evening meeting. But protocol dictates that the first speaker take about 5 to 10 minutes, the second speaker about 15 to 20 minutes, and the main speaker about 45 minutes to an hour. Years in the work influence the time allotment. But this is never stated – workers are expected to know these rules. It can be quite disconcerting when a young worker starts out, not from a professing background, only professed a year or two ago, and takes 15 or 20 minutes as the first, very junior, speaker! His ‘parents in the Lord’ (the workers he professed through) will be VERY NERVOUS and wishing they had clued him in ahead of time – ‘Speak no more than 5 minutes your first time on the platform!”
The worker ‘with responsibility’ for the meeting (the last speaker) will generally ask the other speakers if they have a hymn selection. They are expected to select a hymn that generally follows the theme of their message, although this is never stated.
The evening meeting at convention is a ‘gospel meeting’ and as such, workers are expected to have a gospel message. In other words, no dry, historical exposition from Numbers or Deuteronomy or Esther… unless one can draw a gospel message out of those scriptures (which certainly is not impossible). But better to stick to the New Testament or safer yet, the gospels. And the hymn one selects should come from the front part of the hymn book – the gospel meeting hymns. But no one will tell you these rules explicitly in advance…but if you’re astute, you’ll figure it out.
During convention preparations, workers relax and live more like ‘regular saints’ than during any other time of year. They’re down on their knees praying first thing in the morning, and again last thing before going to bed. You’ll NEVER find them on their knees during the day – if they were to do so, they would be under suspicion of ‘struggling’ with something, and who needs that kind of attention. Exception: If there’s a gospel meeting or some other kind of meeting during preps and a worker is ‘on the list’ to speak, they’d BETTER be on their knees preparing for the meeting… or they’ll be under suspicion of not taking the responsibility seriously… even on the verge of going renegade.
Gospel Meetings: Younger worker should speak 10 to 15 minutes, depending on tenure in the work. Older worker will fill the remaining time.
If workers are close to the same tenure, they may take turns speaking last; they will split the time equally.
Some workers keep a log of every meeting they’ve spoken in, the theme of their message, and key scriptures. This is helpful for two reasons: 1) avoid giving the same sermon to the same audience, and 2) recycle old sermons that seemed to go over well!
Preaching the gospel, or a special meeting, or a convention is much like any other speaking engagement: 1) know your material, 2) know your audience, and 3) believe passionately in what you’re preaching. If those three are in place, you’ll feel good afterwards. If not, you won’t.
Home Visits: Respect the schedule of the home – bedtime, breakfast time, shower time (don’t hog the bathroom while the family is getting ready for the day), evening conversation time.
Typical schedule: Up early to shower before the family and join the family for breakfast before they go off to work or school.
Back to the bedroom; read, pray, prepare for a gospel meeting that evening; write letters, do some calisthenics, go for a walk, get a haircut.
Late morning: Head out for a nursing home visit, a hospital visit, a shut-in visit, lunch with a retired widow or lunch at McDonald’s.
Afternoon: Drive to the home where you get your mail. Relax a bit, go to your dedicated bedroom there, get something out of your storage closet, chat with the stay-at-home mother or older couple.
Late afternoon: Another hospital or nursing home visit; call on a kid at a college dormitory (shock them with your unannounced arrival and leave them trying to explain who those two strange dudes that dressed like FBI agents really are); drive to your supper and overnight host’s home.
Prepare for gospel meeting. Lots of time on your knees, reading and meditating on your message.
Dinner with the family, then off to set up the hall for gospel meeting.
Gospel Meetings: Back to the overnight host home – unwind and relax; gospel meetings are stressful – but in a good way – but still require unwinding. Eat some popcorn with the family. Tell stories, laugh a lot, go to bed.
Wash, rinse, repeat.