I am done with conferences : When meetings become counter-productive
I am done with conferences. I am not done with solemn assemblies. We have made into ourselves an economical ecosystem that is more worldly than we realize. The early church never had a conference on church growth.
In the 1980’s, John Wimber and others made having a few days of church meetings popular. It was a great time to set aside to train for different things. In fact, it become so popular that we do them thinking they will somehow bring revival. It is like the youth summer camp for adults.
As time went on and some ministries saw the profit from them, camp meetings, church “revivals,” and solemn assemblies were done away with to make way for these “shot in the arm” days that turned a financial profit. It was no longer about the glory of the Lord but our favorite celebrity preacher.
Sadly, I was part of way too many of these that I care to admit. I have been a speaker at some and done other things for them. I knew it was not going to bring lasting transformation but I did it turning the other way because it is “how we do ministry” these days.
Goodbye conferences; Welcome back Camp meetings
God has been dealing with us about it for years. This is one reason that I believe Mike Bickle ended OneThing. Having thousands of people gather without any purpose besides to get a “spiritual fix” outside of extended revival just is not a wise investment. Most just go back to their dead, lifeless church the week after.
In the old days of Pentecostalism, we use to set aside a week or even more to come together for camp meeting. It was just Holy Ghost moves of God that did not have any marketing to it. Many of these ended up becoming revivals that lasted for months.
It happened in the context of the local Assemblies and the people were pastored as needed. The meetings happened within the context of their lives, not traveling to some far church only to return with frustration.
All through the history of Pentecostals was extended camp meetings and localized moves of God. It might have been an evangelist that visited or it could have been a traveling camp meetings under the canvas of the tent cathedrals.
It is time to repent of our conference mentality in the Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. It has caused a lot of damage and to be honest, it has quenched far more fires of revival that we will ever realize.
This might not build big ministries or make churches money (conferences are big money makers) but if we are really after revival and awakening, this is a much more clear venue to it.
Personally, I am done with trying to be someone in ministry and get a big following. I just want the presence of the Holy Spirit to come and transform lives. This normally happens more in localized revivals than huge conferences.
What about solemn assemblies?
At this writing, there was just a major event in Florida called The Send by Lou Engle and others. Is there a place for massive prayer meetings like this? The truth is there is. Having a conference is not the same as a solemn assembly to fast and pray.
Joel 2 tells about the need for solemn assemblies for the nation. The purpose of them is to turn the heart of the faithful back to their first love: Jesus. This is not the same as people thinking three days of church meetings will change things.
I have seen these events change things. As we prayed for America in 2000, the elections started to move towards what became the more Christian friendly President (Bush). I also saw things started to shift in the war in Iraq right after one of these events happened. We spend most of the day praying for the military.
It is different because these are times that are called by the leadership of the community of faith for a special cause, not just something you schedule every few months. It is not a countdown to the next solemn assembly.
If someone would say that having these are overused today, I would agree with them. I think it seems like about once a year there is a call going out to gather in a city to fast and pray for this or that. Solemn assemblies are becoming more of a family reunion than an urgent call to intercession.
and General Council?
What do we do about huge “church conferences” like the General Council of the Assemblies of God or the General Assembly of Church of God? Well, the problem here is they are not meant to be a shot in the arm or about spiritual things. We gather for church business. These are about the running of the church.
I have been part of many of these business meetings on a local, district, national and international level. I have never walked into them expecting people to laid out in the Holy Ghost and prophecy to break out. (It has happened but I didn’t plan for it!) The purpose is to vote on this and figure out our position on that touchy doctrinal issue.
This is why the typical revival preachers are not on the platform with a microphone in their hands. Little business would actually get done and it would not the needed elections. These meetings are not revivals but more political in nature.
The bottom line is there no way to get out of having these conventions that many do not want to be at but have to because of the things on the agenda. Most of us would rather be in a localized revival but it is part of being part of a movement.
It is time to get back to seeing God move in localized settings and not so focused on having small “General Councils” conferences. Running from one meeting in one city to another is not going to bring the harvest in and there will be no community around it.