July 05, 2010

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Porn for Pastors: How to Survive Church Conferences Conferences can be like porn for pastors. True, conferences can be a wonderful time to refresh as a team, to hear God's Spirit renewing our call and refining our vision. But after enough conversations with pastors, worship leaders, and youth pastors, I've learned that conferences can also lead to discouragement and even destruction in our churches. Why? Because conferences don't present a true picture of local church ministry. (In their defense, they don't claim to; it's we, the attendee, who sometimes gets church and conference confused.) When you attend a typical church conference, the "worship" is led by famous folks in skinny jeans with cool haircuts and that far-away look in their eyes. As sincere as they are, they are nothing like the folks who volunteer on your church's worship team-- people who are also sincere, but hardly as talented or rock-star-like. The lighting rig at a conference costs more than you pay to rent your facility each year, the announcement videos are like award-winning short films, and the volunteers are always smiling. The speakers give talks that are as well-crafted and inspiring as a televised political speech. And it should be. After all, they reached in their "conference talks" folder and pulled out one of the same two or three talks they've given a dozen times. (I know; I've done it!) On top of all that, the conferences we love are in large arenas with thousands of adoring fans...um, I mean followers of Christ. All these things and more are what led Eugene Peterson in the mid-90's to call church conferences "ecclesiastical pornography." It's not that these conference elements are bad in themselves; it's just that when you compare them to your ministry environments at home it can easily stir up "ministry lust." They present an airbrushed image of...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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