Monday, April 19, 2010

Porn and the Dark Side of Christian Conferences

The uptick in porn usage during Christian conferences is depressing. But its real.

And I think I know why. But I'm not sure we want to admit it.

Dark Side of Success
As a pastor, when you go to a conference, you are wishing and hoping your ministry would be more successful. Or if you aren't in ministry, you are hoping your life or marriage or children will be more successful.

All the cool people on Facebook or on Twitter or in your denom or your church talk up this *awesome* conference with all these big name successful speakers. You pay the big bucks to go. You get there and about halfway through the third session from a highly successful Christian, you start to feel depressed.

Why? Because your ministry or life or marriage or whatever will never be as successful as him or her.

Denying the Dark Side
Oh but you keep up appearances, rave about content, joke and chat in the hallway and buy some books you won't read when you get home. Then you go to your room and the facade can finally drop.

You paid all this money to hear the same stuff again and YOU ARE STILL A LOSER. You're a loser Christian or loser pastor that nobody knows and nobody wants to know. So you justify watching some skin on the small screen, maybe cuss. Or cry. But you are still a loser.

Why I'm Leery of Conferences
Christian conferences are like porn. They flash temptations of sexy ministry success. And no I'm not talking to prosperity preachers. I'm talking to evangelical and reformed people. Keller and Piper and Sproul and Childers and Stezer and Chan and Hybels just keep putting out the temptations and nobody ever tells you to stop lusting after successful ministry.

Christians and pastors, we worship the idol of success. It's a pagan fertility ritual wrapped sensually in acceptable Christian clothes.

And it is killing us and giving the church a black-eye. You know why? We want ministry or life success more than we want what the Sovereign God has given us.

So I don't go to conferences like I used to. Keller and Piper et al cause me to cheat on the Lord's call for me. I can't keep from being tempted.

But I'm learning that Jesus loves me - even though I cheated on Him. And being broken and a loser is better than I thought...

PS - Now please sign up for my 'Loser Pastor' conference, okay?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally. Someone admitted it. I hate Christian conferences. It's why I've stopped going. Same goes for women's retreats. Or whatever. No point pretending. I don't have anything sexy to sell. No CRAZY RADICAL STORY to promote. i'm just a broken human being. Except I don't watch porn. I watch Food Network.

Madame Rubies said...

I forwarded this to a few people. Hubby is a minister and very picky about what conferences are worth the time/money/effort. I have felt similar about women's conferences.

Anonymous said...

"Loser Pastor" conference? Good one, LOL. How about one for the loser saints + sinners?

;-)

Zach said...

i'm in for the conference... Btw, you're a success in my book, and there aren't many in the book so that's saying something.

aaron d said...

Noted. Good observation. Prayerfully the Lord will keep pastors more concerned about his work of redemption among the nations for the glory of HIS name...and not their own.

James Slater said...

Interesting. I am generally skeptical about the need for conferences, especially with so much great material online - but the same can apply here. However, I have been encouraged by many of these things and without them my faith in God and my love for His word and the church would be less.

Anonymous said...

But what if your the sort of pastor who never takes a break? Who never does any kind of training or looks for a fresh angle.
What is the pure conference that no one can condemn?

Broken Pastor said...

Anonymous,
Confession is good for the soul and admitting brokenness has a freeing effect.

Hoping that by bringing the reality out into the light that the darkness will lose it's power.

Satan loves secrets. I'm learning to hate them.

Thanks for stopping by.

Broken Pastor said...

@Madame Rubies, so are you saying that Christian women put on a happy fake face?

We really need to have that 'Loser saint + sinner conference Anonymous mentioned. But who would show up?

Broken Pastor said...

@Zach - glad I made it in your book man - assuming you are Mr. Ricecheck.

@aaron d - I'm with you. If we'll accept what the Lord calls us to, it's a lot better for all of us. But man there is pressure from within my own soul and from within the church to 'be somebody' and it's soooo easy to slip into idol worship! Pray for me. And your pastor too!

@James - thanks for dropping by from the UK. No doubt we need resources for growth. The conference atmosphere and sales pitch - both subtle and overt - is quite unhealthy and often unbiblical.

@Anonymous - if you are a pastor who never takes a break and depends on conferences for teaching, you are seriously in trouble.

1. Sabbath-keeping is a joy and to never take a break is foolish and sinful.
2. Conference speakers are putting on their best performances. There is not real context and it is second-hand ministry. The Spirit of God and the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament in context with fellow ministers and elders will teach pastors more than a conference.

I do go to conferences on occasion but always with people from my church so that we can learn together and contextualize into our church setting.

You ask, 'What is the pure conference that no one can condemn?' I'm sure the conferences are not necessarily evil in and of themselves. It is like any aspect of creation - it can be good or put in the ultimate place and worshipped wrongly.

Thanks for all the comments. I'll be sure and get that 'Loser Conference' organized soon. lol.

Speaking Truth said...

WOW!

What a great analogy - and a timely article. Although I've participated in and now rail against the proseperity conferences (insert applicable pastor and promises here), the same could be said of other conferences as well.

I agree - it's all about "here are 10 steps to make your minsitry more/less (fill in the blank)", and the stark and humbling reality that your ministry isn't/won't be as cool as the others presented - and the shame that you're not like "everybody else" in the process.

Thank God for people like you who constantly pull the mask off themselves - and challenge others to do so also.

Again, Wow!

BTW - should I hire extra security for you or are you done throwing down the gauntlet like this? :-)

Broken Pastor said...

@IST - Our hearts are idol-making factories, right?

It doesn't matter the subject or the theological slant or the speakers at a conference, the dynamic is the same. Our hearts, without Christ's grace, worship ease and success not the LORD.

Conferences just turn up the heat on fleshly desires. Maybe more than many of us are willing to admit.

Have mercy on me Lord. And feel free to send extra security!

Al Shaw said...

I've also noticed two things about conferences that most leaders appear to agree on:

1. There are too many of them

2. The number of them should be reduced, by someone else cancelling theirs.

Terribly great article. Thanks.

Pastor Jim said...

@Al
I think the number of conferences proves the point that pastors and church leaders are fooled into thinking that a quick fix by an expert will solve ministry problems. I know that is my tendency.

Thanks for the comment and for following.