In 1990 I hosted the East Coast Miracle Prayer Conference at the Cherry Hill Hyatt Hotel. My speakers were Carlton Pearson, Myles Munroe, Benjamin Smith, O.T. Jones, Sr. and George E. Hilton II. Music ministry was provided by Archie Dennis and also by Hersey L Coles Sr., & Chosen, and Deliverance Evangelistic Church Choir.
The budget was $8,000 per night and I had no money in the bank account to offset any expenses. I had spent everything to get to the day that the meetings were to be presented. This was in the early days of conferences. Hardly anyone was presenting conferences and the Lord gave me supernatural wisdom on how to pull the conference together almost single-handedly. The meetings were to be that Thursday night, all day Friday and Saturday to include a luncheon.
We had a few volunteers to assist like Victoria Blount and others, but on a whole, God was just supernaturally moving within me to accomplish His purpose in the region. With such a budget and no money, and I was not charging registration fees what would happen if the budget didn’t get met?
I remember Carlton Pearson stood up to preach and He looked at the banner behind him that said Living Faith Ministries International (that was the name of the ministry at the time), and he said, “Either this brother (me) has heard from God or he’s got crazy faith. Well I like to believe its both. I hear from God and I’ve got crazy faith. Now here is the interesting thing. I learned in hosting conferences that you can’t count on people to come, you can’t count on them to give, and had I charged a registration fee a lot of people who needed to be in the meetings could not have been there. The Lord taught me that early on. I tried to charge a registration fee of $50 per person and He wouldn’t allow me to do it. We did however, sell tickets for the luncheon and we gave many of those seats away…..and today all these years later I see that what we really did was made an investment in divine destiny. What I also learned is that the most people attending a meeting don’t always give the most money, and yet there are times that the fewest people gathered will give more money than the many who could have given more just by shear numbers in attendance.
By now you know that I am going somewhere with this right? All of these years later we’ve observed what seems to be a proliferation of conferences being hosted everywhere. I remember Dr. Myles Munroe telling me way back then…..I think we were in Greenville, North Carolina, that I should write the book on presenting conferences. He said that you would be amazed how many people sponsor conferences but don’t really know what they are doing. Well I didn’t write the book, maybe now I will get around to it, but today the Lord wants you to know that if you are a conference host, guard for the subtle spirit of extortion that is dominating many of these meetings. Extortion is when you hold back from someone what is either their’s or is what they need until they’ve paid the price you are charging for them to receive whatever it is that you have. The spirit of extortion is driving many of these conference meetings where the conference host call the meeting but really their mind is on the budget and the people are a key to the budget being met.
There are certain things you need to consider now when choosing to attend a conference. What is the purpose of the conference? Does the conference purpose line up with God’s Kingdom agenda to train me to advance His Kingdom or is the conference aimed at me learning how to get from God what I need? The latter may not be a bad thing but you must not neglect the former. Every leader that is hosting a conference, if they are serving in the capacity of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher their aim in the conference must be to train you, equip you, and give you the knowledge necessary to serve in the word and ministry of reconciliation. This is Jesus mandate in releasing the 5-fold ministry to equip the Body of Christ.
And those of you who honestly can’t afford to go to a conference that you believe God wants you to attend, you should call that ministry and let them know your financial situation and ask them if they would scholarship you to be able to attend. If that ministry rejects your request they may be laboring under a spirit of extortion and not even know it. The Holy Spirit is speaking to me today and telling me to tell you that these things need to be said and that spirit of extortion identified. The spirit of extortion can keep you out of heaven.
1 Corinthians 6 states who will make it into the eternal Kingdom and who will not. 1 Corinthians 6:10 says “…….Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
When you study the word “extortion” in the Greek text with its meanings you find that one of the meanings is to withhold from others what is rightfully their’s until you’ve exacted a price from the person entitled to receive. This word “extortion” also means to withhold until you can extract from the person the price, whatever it is, that you require of another until you give them what is due them.
So today’s post is identifying “that” spirit of “extortion” that has permeated the body of Christ as more and more ministries are holding conferences often times perhaps driven more by budgets than budging people from being “need oriented” to being laborers in the Lord’s harvest.
The third thing you need to do when considering attending a conference is look up the speakers on video searches like youtube, vimeo and other video servers. It is one thing to read someone’s bio, and/or hear the accolades that are bestowed on the speaker from the conference host, but it is something else to go watch any published videos. What you are looking for is to see whether the proposed speaker is just another religious preacher who is going to tell you about your season of breakthrough and you coming into your divine destiny or are they truly preaching and teaching the Kingdom of God that you would attend the conference and come away not just with an experience but you will come away from that conference with a Kingdom destiny. Is this conference, workshop, seminar or other meeting aimed at equipping me to do the work of the ministry or is it only aimed at me learning how to get more from God when I haven’t really given God more of me so that He can use me right where I am. In other words you have to also ask yourself what is your own motive for attending the meeting?
In my history of presenting conferences I’ve found that you have some people who are just conference junkies and the conference presenters are the “hope dealers”. One of the elders in our ministry said to me just the other day that whoever offers the most hope controls the people….and I thought, he is right! This is why you have Joel Osteen packing out arenas all across the country at $10 per person. He offers the most hope and therefore has the greatest control over the people. Again, is the meeting that you want to attend aimed at equipping you to do the work of the ministry or is the meeting aimed at you learning how to get from God the breakthrough that you think you need. Most likely you would be better served if you just humbled yourself and obeyed every word Jesus preached concerning the Kingdom rather than to continue to think from such a low opinion of yourself that you need to find a meeting that is going to give you hope and stir you up. Don’t get me wrong….there is nothing wrong with encouragement, but don’t forget how to encourage yourself and know that whatever God promised He would do for you, and do within you comes with a price. Are you willing to forsake all and follow Jesus. Until you make that decision for real you are going to be looking for the next “hope dealer” so that you can get your praise on.
Back to my story of the early days of doing conferences, as I said the budget was $8,000 per day. I had to pay for unbooked hotel rooms that were reserved on a block and had to pay for the 3 ballrooms that were used, sound, lights, camera people (I wish I had those videos), and the luncheon per person, and no money in the account. Like Carlton Pearson said….either I heard from God or I had crazy faith. Well the Lord met the budget.
The greatest number of attendees gave the least amount of money and the least amount of attendees gave the greatest amount of money and combined the budget was met and we didn’t leave the hotel owing them anything.
On the last night of the conference Dr. Myles Munroe took up the offering and said that God always pays His bills. People came forward and gave me checks for $250, $500, even the late Pastor Lamont McLean gave me a check for $1,000, and there were many more people who gave from their hearts to the budget of the meeting.
When Benjamin Smith preached the previous night, after the meeting I went to give him an envelope with what I believed God wanted me to give him, and he looked in my eyes, and pushed the envelope back refusing to accept it. There was $1,000 in the envelope. It could of been $10,000 dollars in there but Pastor Smith wasn’t there for the money, he was there to fulfill the mandate on his life which was to preach and teach the people about the importance of prayer. Little did he know, or maybe he did, I needed that money to go towards other expenses of the daily budget. What I learned from Benjamin Smith is never preach for money. I have kept that lesson in my heart to this very day. Alright long story made short…..THE BUDGET WAS MET! The Lord taught me that what He calls for He provides for. If He is the one calling the meeting He will meet the budget, glory to God.
I’ve presented many conferences since that time and the Lord has always met the budget without me requiring conference registration fees. Dr. Myles Munroe over the years has ministered in our conferences more than 20 times since 1990 and annually from 2008 to 2014. Now I may change and you may hear of me hosting a conference with a registration fee attached but you best believe, there will be scholarship funds set aside for anyone who cannot attend, and my motive won’t be to artificially meet a budget that I am not really trusting God for. Are you a conference presenter? Perhaps you are a para-church leader who is presenting workshops and conferences or maybe seminars. Keep your motive pure and if you must charge a registration fee make sure you don’t fall into the subtle trap of “spirit of extortion” and risk being kept out of heaven because you had your mind on the money and the money on your mind I hear the Lord saying. I guess He knows Snoop Dogg. Some of you will get that joke later.
Okay I pray I’ve helped somebody today understand the value and responsibility of planning your conferences responsibly being willing to scale back if necessary, and make sure the conference isn’t another “bless me meeting” but produce events where people will learn how to go forth and do the work of the ministry. Pray the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth laborers into the harvest and then don’t charge them up, depriving them of the knowledge they need to become soul winners. In other words…..don’t be a “hope dealer”, but instead be true Kingdom leaders.
Focus on the Kingdom message so that you are qualified to preach and teach it and so that you recognize when leaders don’t. And guard against the “spirit of extortion” because if it comes on you and manipulates you, that spirit will control you and taint your motive for ministry, and yet the aim of the enemy is to keep you out of the eternal Kingdom.
Today we reach many nations of the world. More than 500 people have downloaded our radio broadcast in the last 30 days, and 44,000 people listen to our 5:00 AM Rebirthing of A Kingdom Nation International Teleconferences. More than 125,000 people have listened to our radio broadcast overall and from Great Britain on Voice of Life I am told that more than 1 million people listen to my broadcast….so many that the servers crashed.
Here is my major point…..God anoints some of us with wisdom that can help people go to the next level of ministry on God’s terms but then there are those who already believe they’ve arrived. God is moving us all from busy-ness to effectiveness.
So my assignment here this morning is simply to present as one who has been blessed to have had tremendous experience, that we all must guard against the subtle spirit of extortion that moves us to withhold from others what they need because they can’t afford the price.
The harvest is plenteous and the laborers are few, pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest and God forbid, let us not be deceived to believe that we are supposed to charge them to learn how to labor for Him. In there is the real problem….too many conferences are about how to get from God rather than being about training to be laborers in the harvest preaching the gospel of the Kingdom Jesus preached.
I am for supporting missions but every missionary is not preaching the message God has released as the mission for every man and woman who are called to be those that labor in the Lord’s harvest. As we prepare to go on the Word Network I will be reaching back to many of you for your financial support too that this gospel of the Kingdom will be advanced throughout the world as a witness to every nation that the end will come. Wherever iron sharpens iron we no longer have a dull blade against the real enemy. Wherever iron does not sharpen iron someone has a dull blade for a weapon of truth against the real enemy.
Ambassador, Dr. Leonard Robinson,
Kingdom Vision Ministries International-
The Kingdom Church at Cheltenham Mall-
Kingdom Vision Radio via Blogtalk and Spreaker
School of The Kingdom-