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Wednesday, March 14, 2007


My friend Dan Edelen, at Cerulean Sanctum blog, has come out fighting and written a very thought provoking post on attending Christian Conferences. I totally agree with him! It’s about time that someone had the courage to speak out about this subject, which costs a lot of money for people who can ill-afford it, and it makes a lot of money for the organiser’s, both for the attendances, and the spin-off’s from Books, Tapes, CD’s, DVD’s etc, yet does little to advance the Kingdom.

Although Dan has written about this about North American Conferences, the same disease prevails here, only on a smaller scale. Read Dan’s post for yourself, and make your own mind up…

Each week in North America, thousands of Christians gather together in hundreds of different Christian conferences scattered across the continent. In the course of a year, millions will attend thousands of these conferences to hear celebrity preachers preach, learn from massively credentialed Christian teachers, and enjoy fellowship with likeminded believers.

Yet we have no revival.

Pastors, worship leaders, and Sunday School teachers will attend conferences for pastors, worship leaders, and Sunday School teachers. Men, women, couples, singles, seniors, and youth all have conferences geared to their unique needs. We have countless denominations conferencing to handle policy and chart the future of their group.

Yet we have no revival.

We sponsor conferences on theology, ecclesiology, purity, pastoral care, eschatology, hermeneutics, biblical archeology, and any topic within Christendom we can imagine. We even have conferences on evangelism.

Yet we have no revival.

We drop millions of dollars on airfare, trainfare, boatfare, and gasoline to get to conferences. We line the pockets of innumerable conference speakers, teachers, facilitators, and facility owners. We have the monetary equivalent of the GDP of a small African nation to spend on lodging, dining, and even sightseeing within conference host cities.

Yet we have no revival.

On the other hand, in China, where the flames of revival burn white-hot, the Communist Chinese police hope against hope that the Chinese house churches will start arranging conferences. What better way to round up renegade Christian leaders by the conference-full, bind them in shackles, and toss them into some prison hell-hole—some never to be heard from again.

But born-again Chinese Christians know better, so they don’t hold conferences.

Chinese Church:
No Christian conferences. No one attending conferences. No money spent attending conferences.

Yet revival gloriously blazes on.

North American Church: Thousands of Christian conferences yearly. Millions of people attending conferences. Untold millions of dollars spent attending conferences. Yet we have no revival.
Concerning the status of the North American Church and its love for conferences, the Bible supplies us an apt phrase:
Chasing after wind.

I make no pretense toward the prophetic, but I have a word for us all:

One day, you and I will stand before the Lord at His Judgment Seat and He will ask us if we told the lost about Him, discipled others to spiritual maturity, fed the poor, clothed the naked, attended the sick, and visited the prisoner.

But He won’t be asking how many Christian conferences we attended.

Some will object to this post. I simply ask this: Are our churches so weak that we can’t disciple anyone to any reasonable level of maturity, so we have to send everyone running off to a plethora of conferences to take up the slack? If so, we should instead be staying home and fixing our churches with prayer, fasting, and faces-in-the-dust repentance. But do we do this? No. We pack people off to conferences. And as we’ve seen, we have thousands of conferences and yet we have no revival.

Do we understand how seriously we’re squandering the Lord’s resources? If we did, we’d get serious about this Faith we supposedly hold dear and stop treating it like a hobby (with fancy conferences that make us feel good about ourselves—yet accomplish next to nothing eternal).

What if each of us took the money we had allocated to yet another conference on our calendars and instead used that money to pay for medical care for the uninsured single mother with four kids who lives down the street? What if we took the weekend we would have spent with our posteriors planted in some padded theater seat soaking up a message we already know from yet another “gifted” speaker we’ve heard a bazillion times already and instead spent that time fixing up the house of one of the elderly in our congregation? What if we actually took all the things we’ve already learned about Jesus and put them to use telling others about Him and doing good works in His name so that when we have to stand before Him we look like sheep, not goats?

Perhaps if we raised the bar for those who get to attend conferences. Perhaps if we set a standard so that before we’re allowed to attend another conference we must help lead five people to Christ and disciple them to some semblance of Christian maturity.

Funny thing is, if we did that, I suspect that many of us would be asking what the point of conferences is anyway. Maybe then, our love for Christian conferences would be replaced by a love for the lost and for the brethren.

And then we would have revival.

I watch my friends and other Christians I know, attend conferences in Australia every year, and they come back pumped. But, after a few weeks this dies down, and they are back to normal, waiting for the next big conference.

Loving Father, help me by the power of the Holy Spirit to be a mighty warrior for you, and for the extension of your Kingdom, help me to realise that revival begins in me, fuelled by the teachings of Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. I ask this in the wonderful Name of Jesus. Amen.

Be encouraged!

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