Pablo the giant penguin

Christian conferences are great. They are such a great opportunity to learn, to relax, to spend time in God’s presence, to build relationships and just surround yourself with like-minded Christians in a very Christian environment. But what about when you come home?

This year I spent a week at New Wine’s conference, United; held in Shepton Mallet. It was a brilliant week and I was very sad for it to be over. I felt that I had changed so much, so it was a real shock to remember that the rest of the world had not changed with me. I went back to work on the Monday, and everything was exactly the same as I had left it, with just more emails in my inbox. This can easily become discouraging but we need to find a way to allow the changes we’ve experienced to impact our daily life too. These conferences are not worth going to if they’re not going to mean anything for the other 51 weeks of the year.

So, I felt it was hugely important to reflect back upon my experience and work out what this meant for me. I found it helpful to ask myself questions and write down the answers. Here are the 6 questions I asked myself, and that I think you should use after any Christian conference!

What did you learn?

What new stuff did you learn at the conference? What seminars did you attend? Did a speaker share something new? Did you discover something new about a bible passage or a great tip for living as a Christian? This can include the academic, the theological and the practical. Things that you didn’t know before you went away.

How did you experience God?

Was your experience of God different to normal? If so, why? Did you encounter him more in the worship? Feel him moving during prayer ministry? See his healing and speaking whilst ministering to others? What about this different environment allowed you to see and feel God more clearly?

What parts of the week do you want to bring home?

Reflecting upon the first two questions, what is it that you want to keep hold of now that you’re home? Do you want to experience more of the fellowship you had with members of your church? Do you want to continue learning more about a certain topic? Do you want be able to keep worshipping so passionately that you lose your voice mid-week (it happens, it’s taken over a week to come back)?

How do you want this experience to impact your daily life?

So, now you’re back at home. What impact do you want this experience to have on your life? Do you want to apply those teachings you learnt to your own ministry? Do you want it to have deepened your desire to study the Bible? How do you want to be living differently now compared to before the conference?

How are you going to do this?

This question is the practical one. What changes are you going to make in your daily life? Are you going to get up half an hour earlier to study the Bible more deeply? Are you going to let go of the shame you’ve felt for that thing you did years ago? Are you going to organise a meeting to get the ball rolling on a new idea God has given you? Plan out that very first step – that one thing you know you can do it the next few days or weeks so that you don’t forget what it is you want to do and why. It can be super simple, but just have a first step ready to tick off your to-do list.

And, finally…

When can you book to go back next year?

If this was an experience that helped you to deepen your faith, that fed a thirst for knowledge in you, that blessed you with a chance to relax or allowed you time to re-focus upon God, are you coming back again?

Of course, it is vital that we remember that the God we encountered at our conference, is the same God we pray to the rest of the year. He has the same power, and he can achieve the same things. Christian conferences cannot be our only input for the year, we need personal Bible study, we need prayer constantly, we need fellowship and community, we need to worship. But these conferences are a great source of encouragement and family and reflection so I would definitely recommend giving one a go if you haven’t already.

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