There are a lot of great events for Christians, and I’ve compiled a list of more than 150 taking place in Australia in 2017.
But there are some themes and topics that I think are underrepresented in this list, or not covered at all. So this is an entirely subjective list of events that I believe would be of great benefit to the church.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
1. Learning from failure
And yet, as I've spent time in a co-working space for startups recently, I've been reflecting on the value of learning from failure. “Fail early, and fail often”, “Embrace failure” and “If you haven't failed, maybe you aren't a real entrepreneur” have become cliches.
In startup world, there are conferences and events that help entrepreneurs make the most of failure. FailCon is one example:
“FailCon is a conference for startup founders to learn from and prepare for failure, so they can iterate and grow fast.”
I would like to see events where we (Christians of all ages, stages and vocations) share the lessons God has taught us through our failures. There are an almost endless number of ways that failure could be explored, but here are a few examples:
- Men (or women) who spent too much time at work (and not with their families), and the lessons other men and women can learn from that.
- Pastors who launched a new service that didn’t grow, and the lessons other pastors could learn from that.
2. Developing a prayer culture in church
When I read Daniel Henderson’s book ‘Old Paths, New Power’ last year I was deeply challenged.
“In church life, prayer is not the only thing we do but must be the first thing we do. It can become the very environment of the ministry. It must be our first resolve not our last resort if our work is to be marked by the unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit. And this will take years, even decades. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.”
And there is this challenge to leaders:
“The prayer level of a church never rises any higher than the personal example and passion of the leaders. The quantity and quality of prayer in leadership meetings is the essential indicator of the amount of prayer that will eventually arise among the congregation.”We all believe that prayer is important. We…
I would like to see more events like the Old Paths, New Power webcast in April that among other things help church leaders to “develop a strong prayer culture in your life and ministry”.
3. Parenting in a complex world
Parenting is hard. And as I spoke with a friend this morning I was reminded that parenting teenagers is particularly difficult. So when I came across the ERLC 2017 Conference I was struck by the relevance and helpfulness of the topics it is addressing:
- Raising counter-cultural kids
- Shaping children’s hearts
- Addressing the problem of pornography
- Navigating technology and media with your kids
- Discussing the birds and the bees
- Pressing on when you fail as a parent
- Championing adoption and foster care
- Making wise decisions on issues like sports and school
These are great topics that every parent would be eager to explore – I would like to see more events like this, that help parents raise their children in an increasingly complex world.
4. Intentional fatherhood
Completely unsurprisingly, a growing body of research reveals that an involved father has a massive impact on a child’s health, emotional, social and academic outcomes.
The importance of fathers is receiving more attention as an increasing number of children are raised in fatherless homes.
And while it is wonderful to see more movements and events seeking to support fathers, there aren’t many that are tackling this from an explicitly Christian worldview.
I would like to see events that give fathers a vision and skills to be godly fathers. To see fatherhood not just as paying the bills and driving kids to sport on Saturday, but as a daily, intentional discipleship. And how to do this, guilt-free, amidst the constant demands of modern life.
5. Enjoying your devotional life
As I’ve shared previously, most Christians aren’t reading the Bible. It is rare that I meet with a Christian who would describe their time with the Lord as the best part of their day. Many struggle to have it as part of their day at all. And yet, this time with God is vitally important.
The Center for Bible Engagement discovered that the number one thing you can do for yourself spiritually is read the Bible 4 times a week or more. Read is this frequently, and your life looks completely different to those who don’t read the Bible, or read it less than that.
And yet, for all of its significance, I don't think I have ever seen a conference or event with a focus on helping Christians to have a life-giving, even enjoyable devotional life.