Why invest in pastors’ conferences?

Dr. Don Fanning teaching at an ACTION conference in 2012The pastors’ conferences we organize in Cuba cost between $15 and $19 per attendee, depending on the venue and the length of the event. We normally host events for at least 200 church leaders, so this can mean a total investment of between $3000 and $8500.

Is this a good investment? Well, here are some typical results:

Pastors better understand the Gospel they preach: Some Cuban churches, including many of the smaller denominations, tend to be very legalistic. It’s as though the thinking were, “How can we keep people in line if we don’t give them a set of rules and also make them feel that every day their salvation hangs in the balance depending on their conduct?” At every conference the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus is preached in depth, and in fact permeates the entire event. This challenges the thinking of many who attend.

Pastors get saved: In response to our teaching, about a dozen pastors in attendance will truly understand the Gospel for the first time in their lives, and be born again.

Pastors are exposed to the concept of servant leadership: The Cuban church in many ways reflects the top-down leadership model. When our conference speakers explain the servant leadership model exemplified by Jesus, many pastors catch that vision for the first time and their mindset toward their role in the church changes 180 degrees.

Pastors learn Biblical principles of family life: What good is it to preach the Gospel to your neighbors when they hear your family yelling at each other and see you constantly being rude to your wife? Granted, the Gospel has power simply in its proclamation, but our conferences also teach pastors to walk out the Gospel in their families and neighborhoods so that their conduct matches what they preach. Many times the sessions on family life lead to numerous pastors asking the conference speaker for personal counseling in order to resolve issues in their lives.

Pastors see an example of what organized, systematic teaching is: I know many pastors who preach and teach in a spontaneous, often disjointed way. Maybe their messages have an initial road map, but there are so many detours along the way that it is hard to grasp even a central point of teaching. The ACTION conference speakers show by example how to present scriptural teaching in an organized, systematic, and easily-digested way.

Pastors are discipled: Only a few large denominations in Cuba have structured programs of theological training for their pastors and leaders. For many if not most evangelical denominations, pastors must simply learn “on the fly.” Those pastors find special benefit in our conferences. The majority of Christians on the island, perhaps 60% or so, are relatively new Christians, having met the Lord within the past decade. The church has grown swiftly, but is still deepening its roots. The opportunity we provide at the conferences, to sit under the teaching of seasoned pastors and seminary professors and to be able to ask them questions during breaks and at meals, is a great blessing to many.

Pastors take home a small library of books: At the close of each conference we hand out between 6 and 9 books to all in attendance. For most, these will be the only Christian books that they obtain in the entire year. In this way, the impact of the conference continues when they reach home, as they learn about many topics such as: studying the Bible in its context (from Craig Keener’s book), the true marks of spirituality (Gerry McDermott), basic Christian doctrines (Wayne Grudem), maintaining sexual purity (Randy Alcorn), how to live as a Christian in a fallen world and how to make sense of suffering in our lives (two books by Lim Kou), the importance of personal evangelism (Mark Cahill), understanding the Sermon on the Mount (Stuart Briscoe) and other edifying teachings. The cost for the books, which varies from about $12 to $21 per set, is provided by donors— many times the authors themselves— separate from the budget for the conference.

I’ve obviously made up my mind: this is an excellent investment in God’s people and His kingdom. I am so convinced of this I have rearranged my whole life around it! I therefore hope and trust you will continue to partner with me to make this all possible.

Thank you for your love and concern for Cuba! If you would like to donate to our conference ministry, please click here.