I love attending a good conference because I get to listen to world-class guest speakers and meet with fellow Christians. I get the buzz from a really good event too.
Inspiring speakers, great worship, what more can a person want?
My church recently held its annual three-day conference, Summit, and this year's line-up included American pastors Samuel Rodriguez and Benny Perez.
Rodriguez was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people, and I was brimming with excitement when my church announced last year he was to be at this year's conference.
Alas, I was unable to attend this year's conference due to work commitments, and I felt like I have missed out on something big.
My FOMO (fear of missing out) went into overdrive, as if God had descended and I had missed Him.
After all, I had gotten so much out of last year's conference, with Ps Jantzen Franklin and Ps Chris Hill.
But I also realised that if we are just reliant on conferences to find God and rejuvenate our faith, then we are probably heading for trouble.
Don't get me wrong, conferences are a great because they do change lives. The only reason I am still writing today is because I was convicted after hearing Ps John Bevere speak on the Parable of the Talents at my church's leadership weekend last year.
But the thing is: what good is a great conference if we don't put into action the sermons preached?
There is also the danger of thinking God shows up only in mega-conferences, rather than in the confines of our humble home, or in the supermarket car park.
God is found in...the Bible
As much as I love a good conference, I also love stories of people finding God in the most surprising of places.
Years ago, I read the book Son of Hamas, written by Mosab Hassan Youssef, who is the eldest son of the founding father of Hamas.
Growing up, Youssef saw first-hand abject poverty, abuse of power, torture and death. Youssef didn't find God in a big evangelical conference.
If I recall correctly, Mosab found God when he was reading a Bible gifted to him by a Bible study group. I know, I know, this sounds a bit obvious and a lot less exciting than if I had said Mosab found God in a Joyce Meyer-like evangelical meeting.
For Mosab, it was Matthew chapter 5, verses 43–45 that changed his life. 'Then I read this: 'You have heard that it was said, 'love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.' That's it! I was thunderstruck,' he said.
If he was thunderstruck, so was I. Fancy finding God in the Bible! Who knew?
But there is also former American Olympian and prisoner of war Louis Zamperini who found God in... a Billy Graham meeting!
While that meeting was catalyst for Zamperini's conversion to Christianity, once again it was the Bible that transformed his life.
In his book Devil At My Heels, Zamperini wrote how he sat at Barnsdale Park to read the Bible, a book he 'had tried to read before but threw it aside, not understanding.'
'I sat under a tree, said a prayer, opened up the Bible to John chapter 1, verse 1, and started reading: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God. For the first time in my life, the beautiful story made clear sense. For many years the Bible had been a mystery to me, but now it was an open book. This was the clincher: how could I suddenly understand the Bible when I never could before?... but with the Holy Spirit as my interpreter, the meanings were obvious.'
You see, at the end of it all, it is the Bible that has the power to change our lives, not conferences with flashy lights and impressive speakers.
Michele Ong is a former regional news journalist with a passion to be a voice for the marginalised and disenfranchised. Writing is as essential to her as breathing and she believes words contain life which is to be used to inspire, inform, and influence readers. Michele attends Auckland's City Impact Church with her family on the North Shore.
Michele Ong's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michele-ong.html