Not too long ago, I wrote an article with this tongue-in-cheek title: “The Believer’s Conference Survival Guide”. In conference- & seminar-laden Singapore, Christians are constantly signed up and attending these events. As such, I thought it’d be good to share some pointers and reminders.
Well, I recently found myself at one of these offerings. I appreciated the topics, the speakers and what they had to offer. Nothing wrong with what was presented or shared. Everything was good, biblically sound. And yet, I came away with a feeling of frustration.
[At this point, please understand that what I am sharing is largely personal. It’s me and where I am at; so please, let not anyone be offended at all, least of all the ones who worked so hard to put everything together, or the ones who graciously made time to prepare their sessions. As a speaker and organiser myself, I greatly appreciate every effort and the desire to help others.]
As I sat there listening and processing, I became increasingly edgy. The points were not new at all. I am sure the participants (mostly ministry leaders) would have heard it all before, and possibly even preached it too. The questions posed were not new; nor were the responses ‘revelational’. I am sure those who asked were totally sincere in wanting to learn. And those who shared were happy to impart something of value and worth. Everyone was saying the right things, and yet, the Church (at large) continues to struggle with the same issues and challenges.
I kept hearing that it’s not about another programme or another activity. And yet, I wonder if each was secretly hoping to discover the programme that would fix it all?! I wonder if we have all become so clueless and helpless that we simply can’t figure out how to live life according to how the Lord would have us live. I mean … Singapore is a nation that prides itself in academic and intellectual excellence. With all our expertise and reputation in efficiency and problem-solving, why do we seem to be going around in circles?
Perhaps, that’s where the real problem lies. Are we trying too hard to fix the system that we have missed the big picture? Are we trouble-shooting in the wrong places? Have we only complicated the process even more? Have we unconsciously replaced obedience with organisation, sacrifice with seminars, discipline with dialogue, maturity with methods, purpose with programmes, assignment with activities?
Once again, I say: I am thankful for conferences and seminars, and deeply appreciative of how I have received good reminders, fresh perspectives and insights from the speakers and organisers. But at the end of the day, there are simply no shortcuts.
As leaders and ministers, we often ask, “How can we help them…”, “How can we get our members to…”, “How do we encourage more to…”, etc. Certainly, we can do our part and we must. But unless these are personally impacted and touched by the Lord, compelled and convicted to live for Him, willing to obey and to sacrifice, our efforts, well-intended no doubt, will not avail much. It will just be another conference, another seminar and another programme.