Pastors’ conference (n.) – a gathering of mostly middle aged men gathering together to hear hours of sermons and breakout sessions.
I don’t think you’re going to find that definition in Webster’s Dictionary, but if you were to ask the average person to describe a pastors’ conference that is likely the answer you will get. Doesn’t sound terribly exciting. So how does a pastors’ conference do anyone any good? It can seem to be a gathering to celebrate “rock star” pastors and guys who took churches of a 100 people and saw attendance rocket to 10,000. In fact, I was able to attend a conference this past week called Advance 13.
Many of the speakers were popular pastors & authors and if you’re not careful a conference like this certainly can turn into hero worship. Yet, conferences can be a great time of refreshing for your pastor and a time where the Spirit can move in their life. So here are some of the ways that God can use a conference for His glory and purpose.
1) The pastor goes from teacher to student
Many pastors in churches today are expected to be teaching or leading at any time the church doors open. So unless your pastor is taking time during his week to listen to podcasts, he doesn’t have a time at any point of the week where he sits underneath another person’s teaching. It is so beneficial from time to time for a minister of the gospel to have the gospel preached in his own life.
2) A chance to be refreshed
Time at a pastor’s conference can be so refreshing for a pastor. They can spend time in open & free worship at a conference where worship on a Sunday can be crowded with thoughts of an impending sermon to deliver as well as other pastoral concerns. It is a simple chance to be unburdened in worship before the Father who has called you.
A conference is also a great chance to network with other pastors. It can be so encouraging to hear from other pastors and what they have experienced in their ministry and to be encouraged by the work of God in their daily lives. Paul & Timothy’s relationship reflect the need for biblical community and encouragement from one pastor to another.
3) Blind spots are exposed
Pastors can be so busy teaching, going, doing, planning, serving that they have little time to reflect on what they may be missing in their own ministry. Having time to sit under others teaching, get away from the busyness of ministry and to be still before the Spirit can expose the hardness of their hearts and the areas of their own life & ministry that are being neglected.
4) Passion rekindled
Ministry can be a grind at times. The constant ebb and flow can wear a man down emotionally, physically and spiritually. Yet, it can be so invigorating and convicting to see other ministers who are passionate about their faith and ministry. There can be a great amount of encouragement that can come from seeing others striving in their calling in Christ. As Paul says in Philippians 2:2, “fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.”
5) Put us in our proper place
At times, I find myself people watching at pastors’ conferences. I often find myself saying, “THAT guy is a pastor? No way.” Maybe they don’t “look” the part. Maybe they don’t “act” the part. That’s the beauty of the body of Christ. He will use the weak things of the world to shame the strong and the foolish things to shame the wise. God can use any redeemed, obedient person for His glory. I am not indispensable. As 2 Corinthians 4 reminds us is that we are just fragile clay jars that carry the true treasure of Christ in us. Ministry is not about us but it has everything to do with Him.
So if you are a pastor, I encourage you to take some time every once and a while to get away to have God mold and shape you. If you are just a church member, encourage your pastor to go to a conference once in a while. Maybe even offer to keep their kids or dog while they’re away. Your small gesture may go a long way in encouraging them in their ministry.