New Covenant Bible Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is hosting a livestream of the renowned Linger Conference, Feb 12-14, 2021. Registration information is available here.
In the lead-up to Linger Conference 2021, we asked some past Linger attendees what they loved most about the experience. Here are a collection of thoughts from Johnse Bushlack; 2021 will make his fifth conference attendance.
"2017 was our first conference, and it's been a weekend we circle every year since -- an annual retreat that we prioritize in the schedule. That year, we were in a spiritually dry season. God had opened my eyes in a completely new way to him the previous year in 2016. The concept of resting and sitting with the Lord and waiting on him and listening to him was more of a foreign concept. It's completely counterintuitive to our culture and our natural strivings to buck up and work harder and figure it out. We even almost didn't go because we had to justify spending $2,000 on conference tickets, airfare and hotel for three nights in Dallas. We asked ourselves the question: wouldn't it be smarter to stay home, save the money and just watch the recording of the talks a month later when they post them to YouTube? That's my human brain processing what is smart and wise. And it makes total sense. But thankfully we decided to go and see what this "resting and refreshing" was all about.
"Now I want to be careful that I don't portray that we "worship" the conference and how great everything is. It is the object of the conference that we worship. Shane and Shane or Phil Wickham or Lauren Daigle or Chuck Swindoll or Matt Chandler, etc aren’t the objects of our worship. They are gifted individuals God uses to speak with us. The conference is a means and a vehicle to get us to stop and rest and linger with Jesus. As Shane Barnard explains as he describes their heart behind starting the conference 8 years ago....we are so prone to wander. We are conditioned to move on to the next thing. We are efficiency minded and want to be productive and accomplish things and check tasks off of our to-do list. But God made us to rest, and come to him for our daily bread, in full dependence. We are to come like a child who has nothing to offer. The Scriptures are full of commands to rest, be still, wait on the Lord....but I think if we're honest, we tend to skip that instruction because it seems unproductive. We want to be doing things for God rather than just coming and being with him.
"So for two days a year, the Linger Conference is set up to come and just rest and sit and gaze at the beauty of Jesus. I didn’t previously view Jesus as beautiful. And if that sounds familiar to other people, I can relate. Session after session is set up, to sing praise, pray and hear a word preached....and then we sit and pray and ponder what God is speaking to us through that. That might sound boring to some....it did initially to me....but now I don’t ever want it to stop. Instead of a church service where we come in....usually rushed with the kids ...it takes me the first half of the church service to calm down, quiet my mind and condition my heart to actually hear from God....if we ever get to that point in the hour that the church service lasts. And then after church on Sunday, we rush out to get on with our day. The Linger conference is so different. It carves out space to sit and rest....something we don't do well. Jesus pulled away regularly to a quiet place, a desolate place to commune with the Father. If I'm honest, Jesus is an afterthought many days, and he gets my leftovers. The Linger conference makes us devote time to pursuing God.
"What the Linger conference also does is that it brings other believers who are serious about pursuing Christ and dedicating time to grow their relationship with the Lord. I underestimated the power of gathering together with other believers for two solid days focusing our gaze on Jesus. The passage in Col 3:16, Shane recites a lot. We are to encourage one another and build one another up in love through the singing of songs, hymns and spiritual songs. When you hear a multitude of other voices all singing praise with joy and loudly....it is encouraging. It was an experience unlike anything I'd ever had before. God revealed his goodness to me in totally new ways. When you experience others praying for one another and complete strangers praying for you and celebrating the freedom they’ve found in Christ, it refreshes my soul.
"We need refreshment after this year. We are all weary and dragging. We need to be encouraged.
For me, the Linger Conference does just that."
Register here for Linger Conference 2021 in Cedar Rapids