The Death of the Missions Conference

The Death of the Missions Conference

I am not much of a conference guy.

Why then, am I involved in leading one?

Conferences are, for the most part, going in two different directions.  A generation ago, missions conferences held at local churches were the most common type of conference that the average evangelical would attend. These local church-based conferences are disappearing at a rapid rate.  The other direction is toward national conferences led by dynamic churches and their eloquent pastors.  The topics are usually based on that particular church's emphasis in ministry.

We have, for the most part, witnessed the death of the missions conference in our generation.

Missions conferences of the bygone era were not headlined by Christian bands or big-name US speakers.  They were organized by a local church, featured missionary speakers, potlucks, and home meetings. Most of today's churches, if they do anything at all, might host some sort of "Global Emphasis Weekend."

Particularly in contemporary mega-monster churches, missions conferences are persona non grata.  Pastors simply can't afford to give up the pulpit for a potentially weak missions speaker.  Church leaders, desperate to connect with people "where they are" don't see global missions as applicable to the common man in the pew.  Missions conferences compete for the financial resources against the mortgage, staff, and program budget.

I get this.

There is no biblical mandate for missions conferences to happen.  Our culture has changed. The world has changed. Unfortunately, it often means that the most anybody understands about missions is that it's hard and you can sponsor a child (oh, and those missionary kids are weird).

The biggest loss in not having missions conference is that we don't challenge people to go like we used to  That now has to happen in other ways if it's going to happen at all.

Thus, I am involved with Story.  Story 10 will be held this year in Orlando, over the last three days of the year.  Story (which happened in 2008 as well) is not like any other conference I know of in the US.  In addition to high quality worship, media, and other elements, Story brings to the table something other conference don't:

  • The speakers are not the "usual list of suspects" that make the national speaking circuit.  They are front-line missionaries and strategists, many of whom arrive directly from their countries of service.
  • It deals with serious issues in global Christianity.  Things like persecution, religious blocs, and strategy.
  • It is multi-generational because missions is an "all family" affair.  You can bring your kids and they, too, will have a missions directed program.
  • You will be challenged to give, send, and go.
  • We will pray for the world with a particular focus on those cultures without a Christian witness.
  • You will leave better informed about God's global drama, his STORY among the nations.

So, this non-conference guy commends you to consider Story 10.  I think it fills a missing gap in the US church.

I don't think you will be disappointed.

Here is the trailer (http://www.pioneers.org/story):

Story'10 Trailer from Pioneers-USA on Vimeo.

6 thoughts on “The Death of the Missions Conference

  1. Story was amazing in 08. It was a great experience, and I was blessed to see so many challenged to take the next step. Working with the children was even better. Rachel & I saw children with a burning passion to pray for the lost, and do all they can to see God's name glorified among ALL peoples. If you have the opportunity to go, please don't miss out on this truly unique opportunity!

  2. Some churches do not have a missions conference, but do integrate mission reports, and advocacy every week. With special luncheons with missionaries. If the goal of the "conference" was to bring the pew-warmer and the missionary together, then that function can be met in a lot of different ways. I think there are many more culturally relevant ways to challenge the pew-warmer, and for a church to facilitate interaction with the Missionary. I don't think that churches have forgotten the need for missions they just go about it a different way. In fact if a church does have a missions conference I would wonder how involved or relevant they really are with the modern missions movement. Missions today is not like the Missions of 1950's or the 1880's. That said, Story does look interesting.

    1. Hugh, I am a missionary on the front lines, I would almost bet from your comment that you are not a missionary and that you have never called a modern day pastor asking about the possibility of sharing your ministry with the local church. I have and I can tell you that the local pastor in most cases is the wall which stands between the missionary and the members so that they will never hear about what God is doing. I can tell you that even in those churches where I have been invited to speak, you would not believe how many even refuse to take even a love offering to assist us getting to the next church. The actions, of these pastors, speak so loud that their church members probably hear nothing that they actually say about missions. My question has always been, "What are they afraid of?" Is their God not big enough to supply both the needs of their church and the needs of the missionaries. But the pastor holds the keys to the missionaries support because the world the last time I checked is not supporting missionaries and neither are most churches.

  3. Hi Ted,
    I liked your blog. My wife and I do children’s missions conferences all over the USA. We just did a HUGE conference in Spokane. Luis Palau and George Verwer were the main speakers. Maybe you could look at our web site at http://www.edskowron.com and recommend us to your contacts.
    We live in Palm Bay FL and work with NTM.
    Blessings,
    Ed and Jane

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