Sunday, October 26, 2008

Conferences and the Local Church

"Conferences and the Local Church Have an Important Place in the Life of a Believer"

by Rick Joyner

Hosting Conferences

When we first began hosting conferences, it was relatively rare in the Church. Now many groups and churches host them. I think this is great, and I am for anything that draws Christians from different streams and promotes interchange in the Church.

We began hosting conferences because we were given a mandate from the Lord that they were to be used like the feasts of Israel—calling together those from different tribes in the Body of Christ to help impart and maintain the common vision that we are all a part of the whole Body. Conferences seem to be successful at keeping this vision because they draw Christians from dozens of nations and denominations. Across these borders and boundaries, many friendships have begun at these conferences.

Most who attend conferences regularly tend to be some of the strongest and most vibrant Christians. The impact of a single conference on a Christian's life can last for a very long time, even for the rest of their life. Some become addicted to conferences, but it is an addiction that we should all have. A huge amount of encouragement comes from seeing the larger vision and purpose of the Church. This almost always translates into a more victorious personal and local church life, which is why conferences continue to grow in popularity.

The Local Church Aspect

In recent times, the local church aspect of the Christian life has weakened for many. Some of this may be because conferences, which are so dynamic with many hungry people coming together, can make the local church seem dull in comparison. These two should not be compared nor should they be compared to our personal relationships with the Lord—they are all supposed to be very different.

That is why, if you attend MorningStar Conferences, you will always hear me exhorting those attending to find and grow in their place in the local church. Conferences have an important place in the life of a believer, just as Israel was commanded by the Lord to go up to Jerusalem at least three times a year, but conferences can never replace a healthy local church life—they should enhance it.

I was once asked by a small group of pastors to not make our conferences so dynamic because they were making their local church meetings look so dull. Of course, my response was that they should resolve to make their local church meetings more dynamic, not for us to tone down our conferences. However, I was later convicted by the Lord that I should have tried to help them do this. Since then, I have been on a quest to see the local church become all that God has called it to be—the most dynamic, compelling fellowship of the true knights of the cross.

This has also led me to some ultimate questions about the Church and about our conferences. Our conferences have had a grace on them so that each one seems to go measurably higher than the previous ones. For example, our prophetic equipping conferences go higher than previous prophetic equipping conferences, and our other specialized conferences all seem to go higher than the previous one of that type. We pray earnestly for this grace, but it still amazes us how it happens.

When it is time for another conference, I still get excited like I did with the first ones because they are so rich, and at times I just can't wait for them to start. We should also feel that way about our local church meetings and our personal time with the Lord.

Though we may at times experience plateaus in each area, the ultimate goal of our lives should be our personal time with the Lord, local church life, and additional local church meetings or conferences getting better, deeper, and richer. I do feel this way about our local church life as well because I still get a thrill going to our local church services.

I think many of our local church services have exceeded anything I have experienced in a conference, but we also have our share of relatively boring services. However, when I go to the services seeking the Lord instead of just focusing on the service, I always feel that I have made contact with the Lord and have left edified, often having had my vision and understanding greatly expanded.

The river of living water is in us, not outside of us. Those who get the most out of anything are always those who come to give, not just receive. If your well is flowing within, you can be in the driest meeting and have a wonderful time with the Lord, both hearing and seeing Him. He is always there when even just two or more are gathered, so if we do not see Him then our eyes are closed.

Conferences are a part of our mandate and ministry to the Church. However, they are only successful if they help change the local churches and the personal relationships with the Lord of those who came. That is why in every conference you will hear some exhortations about finding and functioning in your place within the local church as well as getting closer to the Lord personally.

Units of the Army

Since we are addressing how the army of God is mobilizing, for any army to mobilize, it must first be broken down into small units, such as companies or regiments, who have an ultimate bonding and identity. These units, however, must bond and cooperate with the larger army. The regiments and the whole army will only be as effective as the training and conditioning of the individuals. It is not a matter of being one or the other, but more crucial is growing in our relationship with the Lord on all levels.

A regiment must learn to fight as one, but they must also know how to fight as a part of the whole army. There are many things we must learn to do as a part of the local church that will be necessary for us to know if we are to be useful to the whole army of God. As we proceed toward our ultimate purpose, our identity on all levels should be growing stronger. If any one of them is lacking, we will be far less useful than we would be otherwise.

As I am writing this, I am in the home of some friends who live high up in the Alps of Switzerland. Across the valley, I can see a road winding up the mountain that I have been on and know it to be very narrow. To keep the road from being too steep for a vehicle to drive, it has to wind back and forth many times. This is much like the Christian life.

To climb the mountain to maturity and the fulfillment of our purposes, we will have to go back and forth, making many turns—going one way, mostly emphasizing our personal relationship with the Lord, and then having to make a turn and emphasize our corporate relationships. When we turn one way to emphasize one, we should not forget the other, but know that there will be a time to give it priority. We need to do this to keep going higher.

Rick Joyner

MorningStar Ministries