Sorry this is late… I just now got access to wi-fi.
This week I have the grand privilege of attending The Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago! It’s this year’s mega conference with something like 70 different speakers and I can only imagine how many attendees. I’m as excited about this conference as any other normal red-blooded Texas male would be about taking a road trip to see Nascar! Over the last several years, Calvary Bible Church has generously sent me to a number of conferences, so I’ve had some opportunity to ponder why I get so psyched about conferences like this one, and how to temper my excitement with a good dose of reality.
The reality is conferences like The Gospel Coalition are not normal, everyday Christianity. Most of us aren’t members of churches that are as big as the number of people in attendance here, and most of us don’t have pastors who have attained the status of “rock star” for dorks like me who buy every edition of Desiring God that gets printed. Plus, for all of us, we do not spend each day of our lives in an Evangelical Shangri-La of corporate worship, back-to-back sessions of Bible teaching, and perusing Christian bookstores the size of most churches. No matter how hard I try, I will not be able to fully regulate my emotions while attending an event of this depth and size. But I must not make this like church camp, which has been for so many a spiritual pep-rally that precedes stumbling, depression, and moral failure upon returning to everyday normalcy. What good, then, can we take from conferences, while keeping ourselves grounded in the life and ministry of everyday life?
I try to walk away from a conference being encouraged by the magnitude of the grace of God that is flooding the hearts of people throughout the world. There will be people from all over the country and all over the world at this conference which will communicate very vividly the truth of Revelation 5:9 that God is making worshipers for Himself “from every tribe and language and people and nation”. Sometimes we can feel quite alone in this battle to make disciples and be faithful to Our King, as if we and a few others at our church are the only ones really trying… much like I imagine Obi-Wan Kenobi must of felt watching over Luke for all those years from a distance knowing that the only other Jedi in the galaxy was exiled on Dagoba (sorry to subject you to that). But this illusion is smashed to bits upon seeing the oodles of people from across the globe that are willing to sacrifice their money and vacation time to know and serve Jesus better. Next time you go to a conference or even hear about a conference, let this reality sink in: what God is doing in this world is some much bigger than your little context, but what God is doing in your little context is combined with what He is doing in millions of other little contexts to make up His amazing plan of building His global Church. God’s work in the world is bigger than you think, and you get to be a part of it! Let that inspire you to increased faithfulness and courageousness in the everyday Christianity that makes up the other 99% of your life.