Should Conferences charge?

I have been thinking about the model that is used by David Yonngi Cho and some of the writings of John Wimber. It has led me to a real question about something that we commonly do in the church, especially in renewal circles. Should conferences charge or is there a better model?

I get the fact that having this political convention mentality in churches where speakers are treated as rockstars is pricy. Having people come as speakers that expect private airplanes, penthouse suites, limos and eating at world class restaurants is not cheap. However, I think that is part of the problem. Alot of ministries to remember they are spending other people’s money….that labor hard for it.

This is one reason I have always seek to be simple when I was a conference speaker. I remember taking the AmTrak and the Greyhound buses everywhere to minister around America at churches. I wanted to make it easy to have revival meetings. I would sleep on floors of churches and I lived on Ramon noodles. It was worth it to preach a campmeeting in some small town that needed a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit. I would do it again!

Conferences in light of Matthew 10:8

This verse is one that comes up more time than not when the subject is being discussed. What does it mean to “freely receive and freely give?” Is this about conferences? I do not believe it directly. It is was the afterthough of the verse before it.

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a]drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

It was talking about healing, deliverance, signs, wonders and miracles; not money. It means we are to give away out anointing to the world around us. That is the biblical context of it. It is all about being people of Pentecost.

Now, we have the indirect connection to the passage. How do you give away healing and deliverance if the people in need can’t get to the meeting to receive it? We know that faith come from hearing and hearing from the Word of God. However, if they can’t be part of the meeting for financial reasons, how can they hear to believe in order to receive the impartation of healing or deliverance?

This is where I believe that conferences are failing. They are using them as a business venture, not an opportunity to preach the gospel with power and authority to the world around us. Simply put, it has become part of a sub-culture’ not part of the counter-culture seeking to transformation the mainstream elements. I believe this is to our discredit.

I believe that ministries would be hard pressed to defend conferences as a ministry model using the New Testament. In fact, I think it is would very challenging to do so. I can not find it there and I do not believe you could either.

But Conferences cost alot to put together

Yes, they do. Partly because of the way some speakers want to roll and also, things just add up. Renting a venue, electricity, sound, lighting, etc….it all adds up and I get that. I have hosted them and know the demands that host ministries are under to make it work.

However, I do not believe there is a need to have charges over $325 for a weekend of meetings. That is just plain excessive. If you need to charge that for to break even; you need to re-think what is causing your expenses to rise. It might be time for some slashing and going more lean. Just saying.

We do need to re-think the cost of the conferences and if they are hindering people from receiving what the Lord wants to do in people’s lives; especially in lower income nations like the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico and India. Charging $300 in the Philippines is the average salary for a month of work.

I guess what I am saying is conferences are becoming cash cows and they are not as much about ministry as we would like to think they are. It is a business venture and I think that is not a postive thing when you are putting a price tag on someone’s healing, deliverance and especially their salvation.

It is the to re-think what I call the conference ghetto.

Conferences have alternatives

Let’s assume that the cost is fixed. I believe a better option would be to relocate the meetings to a more missionally location. Have the healing conference in Mexico; people would spend the same money to go but they would be introduce to healing ministry on the mission field. They would in a place to practice what they have received quickly and effective.

While this would not drive the cost down for the poor, it might be a better options for practicing the supernatural in a more transformational and transparent way.

One thing I do know is we need to re-think our mentalities about conferences and how we do them. This ghetto of charging hundreds of dollars and pricing impartation right out of the hands of the lower class is not from the Holy Spirit and I believe that is actually grieves Him. He loves the poor too.

“The same Lord who gives sight to the blind and creates miracles through our hands is the very One who feeds the hungry through our hands and watches over the immigrant. We must never ignore the poor & needy. We must never spend any outpouring of Gods Spirit on ourselves.” (John Wimber) 

“Revival moves vertically touching all socioeconomic levels. When revivals go throughout the social order they bring radical social reform. Priority may be given to spiritual needs, but the meeting of material needs inevitably follows true revival.” (John Wimber)