A few days I ago I received a flyer in the mail for the 2016 Ligonier National Conference. It is addressed to "Pastor and Mrs. Eric Carpenter." I guess they don't realized that I resigned from professional pastoring five years ago. That's probably because I haven't attended a Ligonier conference in five years either.
As theology conferences go, Ligonier is a good one. The line up of speakers is usually excellent, and the topics are both interesting and relevant. This year's focus - the Gospel - could not be better. Part of me would really like to attend. However, since I'll be working I won't be going (when I attended Ligonier conferences in 2009 and 2010 I was employed as a salaried pastor; thus, I had all sorts of free time to travel to Orlando for a few days).
If I had the time, just how much would it cost me to attend? Let's do the math.
If I registered right now it would cost $169.00. Prices increase as the conference approaches.
The Meal Plan for four meals is $59.00.
The cheapest hotel reservation is $79.00. However, with taxes included the cost would rise to close to $100.00. The schedule calls for two nights; total hotel cost equals $200.00.
Gasoline cost from Savannah to Orlando and back would be somewhere in the vicinity of $100.00.
Meals to and from Orlando would be about $25.00.
The cost, then, for me to attend the 2016 Ligonier National Conference would be a whopping $553.00.
That is a lot of money.
Of course, when I last attended Ligonier I was a pastor; therefore, I let the church pick up the tab since it was part of my monthly expenses. That means that hard working people back home in Savannah shelled out hundreds of hard-earned dollars for me to sit and listen for three days. It was a good deal for me.
Did I forget to mention the books? Like most conferences, Ligonier has a large room full of theology texts, all for sale. These go on the pastor's expense account, too.
Something is not right with this picture.