Attending a Christian conference can be an incredible blessing. The opportunities to learn, to network, to take a break from normal life, to enjoy abundant food and even to sing together with a large crowd of believers, this can all be wonderful. But there are dangers too, and since I haven’t seen anybody writing about this, here is a set of points to ponder as you head for the next big event:
1. Don’t leave God out of your conversation. This may seem bizarre when every session, every song and almost every conversation is probably going to relate to God and ministry. But I stand by the point—don’t leave God Himself out of the conversation. It is easy to neglect time with Him in order to stay busy talking about His things. It is easy to stay up late, get up groggy and rush off to breakfast, conversations and plenary sessions. What about time with God? What about letting Him have a voice in your day by reading the Bible? What about pausing to pray since He is important to you? If your spouse were with you, your frantic intensity and neglect of conversation would do nothing for marital closeness. So what about Christ?
2. Lean on God to navigate the stresses of networking. If the conference is a gathering of people involved in ministries like yours, then it is tempting to buzz around like a manic worker bee trying to connect with every significant person in attendance. In the few days you have, you may not get to everyone you think you should. Instead of handling that by your own stress, talk to God about it and walk through the days with a reliance on Him. He can orchestrate the connections that He thinks you need. I have experienced both the manic version of conference networking, and the trusting God version of it. The latter version is healthier, more faith-building and more effective.
3. Don’t feed the hype of a glory festival. Probably the worst part of some Christian events is that they feed the hype of mutual glory hunting. Jesus warned the religious leaders of his day very strongly about the danger of receiving glory from one another (see John 5:38ff), and yet we still fall into that trap so easily. Christian events where leaders are gathered are often rife with the stench of human glory. Determine not to feed it. Don’t leave a conversation mid-sentence because your favorite author just entered the room. Don’t ask for autographs (what is the point?).