When I tell people I’m going to a Christian writers’ conference, they often ask, “What on earth is that?” Of course I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but I explain about meeting with editors, agents, and other writers, having sessions on improving our writing, and actively learning from people who write or hire writers.
But the Christian part of the title makes it different from other conferences I’ve attended. Last week, for example, I went to the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference in Portland, Oregon. It was delightful.
The “Christian” part of the title means several things to me.
- All the planners and leaders of the group are Christ-followers.
- The editors represent Christian magazines and publishing houses.
- The music and entertainment will be free of profanity and vulgarity.
- The speakers’ messages will be in some way connected to Jesus.
- The individual meetings will include encouragement as well as criticism.
This conference was all that and more. Aaron Doerr led the music, both old hymns and newer spiritual songs. We sang morning and night.
The first session of the day was 30 minutes of singing, speaking, and praying. Paul Smith gave wonderfully inspiring and informational talks each morning. For example, he connected I Peter 1:1 (“To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia”), with Acts 16:7, where the Spirit kept Paul from entering Bithynia. His question was, “How were there Christians in those places for Peter to write to?” Acts 2:9 (“Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia”) answers that question. Perhaps they were converted to Jesus on the Day of Pentecost when 3000 souls were baptized. Wow!
I must admit that I kind of slide over those long locational names in the Scripture, but Paul Smith brought them to my mind in a creative way.
The two keynote speakers were Kim Meeder and Robin Jones Gunn. Both of these women are powerful speakers of truth and gospel! They are both so grounded in the knowledge of Christ and the Scriptures that I went away more inspired to write in such a way that people will better know Christ.
So the biggest difference in a Christian writers’ conference and a writers’ conference (and I’ve been to both) is that people are writing to glorify God more than themselves. This is no cut-throat group, with everyone trying to push someone else out so they can get a contract. No, in this group, everyone is helping everyone else because we all want to promote Jesus Christ more than ourselves or our own agendas. We rejoiced with each other, sympathized with each other, prayed with each other.
We took classes to help with our craft and also had private meetings with agents and editors of magazines or books. Each was well done, helpful, and encouraging.
Christ was there in our midst. I appreciate so much all the hard work that made that conference so effective. I am totally motivated for my writing to show Jesus more than ever before!
Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. Isaiah 30:8