Back in the 1970s the expression PTL (Praise the Lord) became vogue. It is still used to attribute something wonderful that the Lord has done or is doing. The staff and board members of Influencers said a lot of PTLs during and following our National Summit at Shepherd of the Ozarks a little over a week ago. We saw and experienced something wonderful that the Lord did, and all we can say is “PTL!” I’d like to share a few things we have learned about our conferences, and how we plan them and value them.

First our leadership has a strong conviction that if something will be extraordinary, it must require the Master’s touch on it. Although there are many well intended efforts to “produce” an experience by many conference leaders, we have found that even our best efforts fall short of producing something extraordinary that has the Master’s touch on it, if it is only what man can produce. We could produce elaborate productions that entertain and create emotional highs, which seems to be some efforts. But we have observed that the emotional commitments that come from these “productions” rarely sustain once a man returns home and to the challenges faced before the conference. To create a sustaining life changing experience, requires the Master’s touch on that person. They can’t get it through what a man or men can do. The question is then, “What can we do to have the Master’s touch on our conference?”

I think it is important to note that it is not what we do, but more about what we do not do that prepares a conference for this extraordinary touch the Holy Spirit gives us. Let me speak to that. We must begin with our agenda. If our agenda is tightly focused on the person of Jesus Christ, then our agenda will be blessed by Him. Our speakers and music leaders understand that our mission is to make Jesus famous. If we in any way try to compete for His glory, we will not have the Master’s touch on our ministry efforts. This has to be established up front and carried out all through the conference.

Next we as leaders must understand that what we are asking for with the Holy Spirit making Himself known and felt requires a battle with a spiritual enemy that would want to disrupt God’s work in our lives and the conference. As a leadership team this requires unified prayer, humility, and acts of service on our part to counter his efforts. I have discovered that the enemy will try to disrupt a leadership team by attempting to create division, or diversion. If there is a personal agenda rather than a Jesus agenda, or a team agenda, we will see his focused effort at this target. As a leadership team we understand this attack area, and we are always surrendering ourselves and our agenda to Jesus and the team. This keeps unity of hearts, minds and souls in a good place, and is why we are alert to how this would keep the Master’s touch off our conferences if we do not fight against it.

The next challenge speaks to another challenge we regularly face as a ministry. It is no difference with planning our retreats. This challenge is “diversion.” What do I mean by this? This ministry has been given a clear message from God that He wants us to proclaim, to persevere with, and to protect. Our mission is to make disciples, and to make disciple makers. Our method is to walk a man or woman into close proximity with Christ. Our mission is not to host successful events. It is not to create a man depending on these conferences to sustain a spiritual experience. Our mission is not to be social activists, or even to be well known as a ministry. We avoid celebrity. It is a seductive mistress that will prevent the Master’s touch. Our mission is to help a man, woman and family to walk with Christ. It is about Him and the mission He has entrusted to us. Why is it important that we hold true to this course?

I have seen many ministries and ministers that have changed to accommodate their success. I have seen their passionate expression of humility and dependence on God to be replaced with self-assured systems and programs that offer a “form of godliness but denying its power. ” (2nd Timothy 3:5) They don’t start out to become this. They are ignorantly seduced by their success and the applause they hear. If there is any root of pride or an agenda other than making Jesus famous, the enemy will exploit it at this place in a leader. As a ministry we have to be on guard with this, if we want the Master’s touch.

How do I describe the Master’s touch?  Words that come to mind are “anointed, favored and empowered.” However it is still hard to describe it, for it is mysterious movement of His. We never know if the Holy Spirit will show Himself in a special way. We humble ourselves before Him. We pray in unity for His power and presence. We pray a lot before and during these conferences. We plan with a lot of dependence needed on Him. We leave a lot of space for His interaction with the men, and ourselves. Because He keeps us in suspense if He will show up or not, we take very serious those things that may keep His touch away. So far we have seen Him year after year show Himself better and more clearly than the year before. This past conference was no exception. He really showed up and showed off. PTL!!!

As we go forward following the conference we are back to normal with our efforts to make disciples. But we now have additional men who are all in with their life for Christ. We have seen the Master expand our leadership base, and there are now more laborers entrusted with our King’s message to them. All I can say is PTL!!!  Way to go Jesus!!!  To Your glory!!! Amen!!!