All Christians in Singapore know this statement to be true:
“There is no shortage of conferences and seminars in our sunny island state!”
Hardly a day goes by without us receiving an email, announcement or invitation to hear the most anointed speakers, to tap into the prophetic realm, to have the most powerful encounter, to experience the biggest breakthrough, to see the most unusual miracles, or to receive the latest download from heaven!
Truth be told, as interesting and promising as these may sound, many of us are experiencing conference fatigue. After a while, we realise that much of this is marketing and advertising language (take it from an ex-adman). This is not to say that such offerings are not good or needful. However, regardless how fantastic a meeting is touted to be or reported to have been, one must question its effectiveness beyond the registration numbers and post-publicity campaigns. Yes, intellects were provoked and emotions were stirred. Then what?
For sure, it cannot be the presentation. After all, these are the world’s best, the most sought after, supported by platinum album worship leaders with extremely impressive lights and sound. Perhaps, then, it is the posture of our hearts we must examine.
Hence, as one who has also attended (and organised) more than a few of such events, this is how I personally navigate and survive the conference jungle out there:
RESIST For starters, don’t go running all over the place, attending every meeting however attractive these may sound to you. I am certain every conference that is organised and offered is good. But the truth is, you don’t have to attend each and every one. Simply, you don’t have all the time and money in the world. And even if you do, you want to be a good steward of these resources. Check your heart if you are simply going to get the next high or that you won’t feel left out when your friends tell you how good it was and what you have missed. Don’t laugh, but this actually requires prayer, discernment, focus and commitment; and for some, sheer strength and will power.
REST & RECEIVE Serial conference participants will find this difficult to achieve as these thrive on the spiritual buzz and highs that conferences offer. Yet, as much as these meetings set out to revive or reignite, don’t be overly concerned with man’s good intentions or at times, soulish methods. Don’t get too caught up with the outward but determine inwardly to rest and to receive. It is ok not to go with an expectation of “I must get something out of this!” Don’t get me wrong for there is still an expectation in your heart – to rest and receive; whenever, whatever, however. When you are truly rested in the Lord, that is when you become sensitive to His still small voice, regardless of the level of the sound system or the hype, ready to receive all He has in store for you.
REMINDERS & RHETORICS Let’s be honest. If you are a regular on the conference circuit, you would have realised that most, if not all, of the principles mentioned are the same – intimacy with God, obedience is better than sacrifice, how much God loves you, His amazing grace, God has a plan for you, etc. Even prophetic utterances are not very much different, seriously. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. Depending on the posture of your heart, these could easily become rhetoric or they could be great reminders. You could come away thinking you have heard them all and be disappointed for having wasted time and money, or you could be duly prompted by the Holy Spirit to address a certain aspect of your walk. For sure, it is not more teaching we need but we must carefully examine what we are doing with all the information we have acquired.
RHEMA & REVELATION Thankfully, there are times when a gem of an idea or concept shines through. These would be different for different people depending on the situation or season you are in. Some refer to this as a rhema word whilst others may consider it a revelation of sorts. Regardless, it is something that caught your attention enough to make you sit up. Hold on to this nugget. Write it down. Don’t let it flit in and then out too easily. Transfer your notes to your prayer journal so that it can be referred to over and over again, along with other revelations you have received in the past. God never speaks in isolation but consistently through various means and times. The rhema you received at a conference may be significant. But the greater revelationof seeing God at work in your life in totality is by far even more amazing!
REVIEW & REFLECT How easy it is to enjoy the experience and then promptly forget it the moment the conference is over. This explains why people flock from meeting to meeting, hoping to recapture that moment or feeling. After all, it is so much easier to have someone else do the hard work for you. However, the way, the truth and the life is not the conference itself; it is the Living Word of God, Jesus. As the speakers are declaring the Word, use that time to reflect. After the event is over, review and reflect. If you have received a rhema or a revelation, then even more so, review and reflect. Keep reviewing and revisiting the points by meditating upon these and praying through. What did God say? What does it really mean? What does He want you to do with it?
RESPOND This, to me, is the most important point. Whilst it does happen, it is not enough to just make your way to the front to receive a touch, to shed a tear, or to spend some time on the floor. To respond really means to put into action all that has been received at the conference after the conference is over. No point leaving only with another conference booklet with blanks filled in and another name tag to add to your collection. Don’t make the mistake of being a hearer of the Word and not become a doer, deceiving yourself. It is not the number of conferences you have been to, or how many great speakers you have heard. It is what you do with what you have received that truly matters.
As we have already established, there are just so many Christian conferences and seminars in Singapore. Add to these, Church-based training and programmes, and we Singaporean believers are, without doubt, spoilt for choice. I pray that the above points would be helpful for you as you consider what to do with that conference flyer you are holding in your hand, or those invitation emails that just arrived in your inbox. [Of course, if it’s from me, you should register immediately – haha!]
Let me close with this verse that describes the explosion of information in the end times, often taken to refer to global travel and the knowledge-based internet economy of our days:
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:4
I can’t help but wonder if this might, in actuality, be describing the running to and fro of God’s people from meeting to meeting, seminar to seminar, conference to conference, and the knowledge that is ever increasing and abounding? If so, oh Lord, by Your grace, may we have the fruit to show for it.
This article was originally published in One Day At A Time on 11 May 2015.