Christian Conferences – Why?
I have attended dozens of Christian Conferences in the last 15-20 years.
I have spoken at a few, been a part of “ministry teams” at some, chaired a couple and as I look back, I ask myself “what results came from them?”
Why do churches and ministries have:
“Helps Ministry” conferences?
Conferences Conferences Conferences!
Do we have to go to a conference to “Experience relevant worship” or “Experience practical teaching” how about “Experience powerful prayer?”
We’re told that “you’ll FEEL like you’ve invested your time in something that was really worth it.” I guess you can’t EXPERIENCE or FEEL these things or your time in your local fellowship isn’t really “worth it” or you can’t “align…your life with God’s heart…” unless you attend these “special” conferences.
What ever happened to being “equipped” in your local fellowship?
(Now all of these quotes are from the marketing materials used to promote the events)
Let’s look at what goes into most of these conferences.
(There’s so much involved, I know I can’t cover it all here)
Of course it starts with a Conference Committee who have meetings to determine the venue, theme, date, guest speakers, gifts for attendees, ministry teams, etc…
If it cannot be handled in-house, there are hundreds of Conference Consultants and other businesses that feed off the conference craze.
I call it a craze because over the last couple of years I have received no less that 1 invitation per day to attend somebody’s “conference” somewhere in the U.S. That’s at least 300 conferences, workshops, symposiums, events, gatherings, retreats, whatever you name it, per year.
Conferences must be good for somebody.
Who really benefits from these get togethers?
The venue benefits by having hundreds of captive audiences paying for rooms and amenities.
The Surrounding Businesses
The surrounding businesses benefit from the “spill-over” of people in an unfamiliar place needing services during the event.
The Guest Speakers & Entertainers
Most guest speakers & entertainers benefit by having their travel and rooms paid for by the hosts. Many of these speakers are part of a type of speaker’s bureau that make a career of speaking at these events. (I was a little surprised when I went to a Christian Conference Consultant’s web site & they had a list of Christian Conference Speakers if you didn’t have one) If you look at many speaker’s schedules (now I talking about pastors), there is hardly any room for their local ministry. Some have a large “posse” to rival any secular entertainer.
The Host Ministry
The host ministry benefits from the great fund raising opportunities the gathering brings. In addition to the “free-will” offerings, much can be gained from the marketing of the books, CD’s & DVD’s of the speakers as well as the opportunity to market their own products.
The attendees have a perceived benefit by FEELING they have EXPERIENCED something SPECIAL. Never mind that there may be no true spiritual growth as a result of the EXPERIENCE. They are left hanging by the thread of awaiting the next conference. I’ve even seen sign-up sheets and deposits taken to solidify your seat for the next gathering.
On the whole, today’s “Christian Conference Movement” is no more than a marketing and fund raising opportunity for the organizers, speakers, entertainers and hosts.
When asked what an attendee received as a result of attending the gathering, 80% or more will repeat what was written in the conference advertising material. Things like what I quoted before.
These events are marketed as “life changing.” My question is if they really changed lives, why repeat them with the same participants coming back with the same problems with most no closer to God than they were 5 conferences ago.
Now, don’t think that I am totally against the occasional gathering of like minded groups of people for a common cause. and I stress the “OCCASIONAL” gathering to share ideas and the like. What I am trying to point out is that many host ministries “guilt” their congregations into attending at least three “conferences” per year if they are married, the Annual, the Men’s & the Women’s conferences. They are told many times during the promotions that their spiritual well being or marriages will be compromised if they don’t attend. Many attend causing great financial burden on their families.
I just wonder what the feeling of déjà vu Jesus would have while attending a modern conference as quoted in this scripture: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Mat. 21:12-13)
People, we are supposed to be an influence unto the world.
Instead, we are the world.