For some, the word conference can be a very, very important word. It’s almost like Christianity could not exist without conferences. In some places, you’ve got conferences for pastors, for leadership in general, for young adults, for youth, for missions, for children’s workers, for greeters…well, I’ve actually yet to see one for greeters, but there might be such.
I am at a place in my life where I realise church, or the ekklesia, is not solely about our main meetings (as in Sunday mornings), nor chiefly about conferences. Church is about relationship – with Christ, the Head, and with the body of Christ. It’s about mirroring the relational nature of the Trinity. Therefore, church can be expressed in the home, over a meal, outside of the church building, with a few gathered together sharing life.
And I must be honest in confessing that I am glad church is not about meetings and conferences, or at least I don’t believe it should be about those things. Some people can cram in so many meetings and conferences that it can leave them disillusioned when coming back into ‘real life’ where there are no six-person (or more) worship teams, extended times of corporate worship, great preaching, with everyone being a Christian. Not to mention they can leave you completely exhausted.
Now, I must also confess that if God is really moving, by His Spirit, in the gatherings, then there might be a season in which we gather together more frequently. But I am not sure this can be planned for, as in the church that puts out on their sign: ‘Revival coming this Monday to Friday, 7.00 – 9.00pm.’ This probably refers to a more traditional sense of presenting the gospel in some public format and giving an invitation to ‘walk down the aisle’. But I’m not sure that is revival. God’s moving usual takes on a more spontaneous nature, though not negating we can prepare the way in prayer, and even fasting. Still, revival seems to mirror Christ’s coming – we know not the day nor hour. Nevertheless, I digress.
Yet, we must also recognise that meetings and conferences are not evil in and of themselves. Our local church gathers every Sunday, as your’s does probably as well. And the family of churches we are a part of do hold a few conferences during the year for fellowship, sharing life together, training, corporate pursuit of God in worship, etc. So, meetings and conferences can be a worthwhile time of the larger body gathering together for corporate vision and celebration. Thus, I don’t think it is worth throwing out such larger gatherings in and of themselves. We just have to guard against overdoing it with a zeal that is not coupled with wisdom.
So, the young adults of our churches put together a conference this past weekend, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, we were able to have a group from our church head over to the UK for it. It was called Deeper:Life. Though, as usual, we were quite tired at the end of the weekend, probably highlighted by the fact of traveling over from Brussels, it only stood as a reminder of why I do enjoy when we gather together in a larger setting. The reason? It is very refreshing to meet up with friends from other nations with a common vision of pursuing Christ and His kingdom. That, for me, is the best about such gatherings.
No doubt, we had some great times of corporate worship in song, with quite a few sharing the heart of God in prophetic words. There was also some really good teaching and preaching from three different people, and even the food was quite good, which isn’t always expected at a larger conference centre. But, again, it was all worth it to have the opportunity of meeting up with those brothers and sisters that I have spent the last 10 years building up strong relationships with, these being people with a very similar heart for God and His kingdom rule. That is not the ‘icing on the cake’, rather that is the cornerstone for such an event.
So, while I am glad to be home to catch up on a little rest, I am so thankful for this past weekend at Deeper:Life. God was in our midst and we came out encouraged, strengthened and challenged. But more than anything, it was God’s people, His ekklesia, joining together in a shared time of conversation, worship and even good ol’ fun! And, after that, we can be ready to head back into ‘real life’.