08 August 2006

Conferences & the Local Church

How important is it for pastors to attend the mega conferences like Shepherds Conference, Bethlehem Pastor's Conference, Together for the Gospel, and a host of others (Banner of Truth, Bunyan, Philadelphia Reformed, etc.)?


The positives are that pastors enjoy fellowship and encouragement from other pastors and speakers. There are lots of new book acquisitions, too. For the most part, these conferences are generally viewed as 'all-positive', and the more you can attend the better.

However, the negatives are important as well. For example, the celebrity orientation that conferences can have makes a pastor tempted to get into an 'inner circle' or feel slighted to be left out. Unhealthy desires for duplication of speakers' ministries can lead men of lesser gifts and different situations to develop artificial approaches, goals and standards.

Are there any options for adjustment if adjustment is needed in our view of conference-going? Would smaller, more regional conferences be better? Are the mega-conferences important to the cohesion of the reformational sector of Evangelicalism, and should thereby be supported in earnest? Do the mega-conferences and their speakers end up being a default Episcopate and confederation of Cardinals? Maybe this is inescapable and practically helpful.

One last thought---do the mega-conferences serve as a sort of go-between for the local church and the seminaries? By this I mean, are conferences the place where current issues are addressed or teaching is expounded that is accessible to the local church in a way that seminaries don't provide.

Has the rise of mega-conferences come from the lack of church-based theological education?

And finally, if I go to a conference this year, which one should it be and why?



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