Friday, May 14, 2021

3 Ways to Encounter God at Your Next Writing Conference

by Joshua J. Masters @JoshuaJMasters

The hurried pace of a writing conference can rattle the most seasoned author—after all, we want to get the most out of the experience. But with so much to do and learn, it’s easy for the Christian Writer to leave God on a shelf at home.

You can’t actually do that, of course. God is going to be at the conference whether you want Him there or not. The real question isn’t whether He’s present but how present you’re willing to be with Him. 

Here are three ways we can be intentional about having an encounter with God at our next writing conference.


Every time I attend the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I spend weeks preparing for the encounters I hope to have with agents, publishers, and editors. My conference binder is a glorious ark of research and planning. The one-sheets, pitches, and sample pages I’ve labored over are nestled in their color-coded folders, while pages of workshop schedules and the profiles of industry experts attending the conference lovingly nest in laminate sleeves. 

I don’t think I’m alone in this kind of preparation, but how much time do we spend preparing to encounter God at our writing conference? In our mad rush to seek out the people we want to meet, we can forget Christ is the most important industry expert there.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and busyness of the moment, so we need to create a plan for when and how we’ll meet with God before we get there.
  • When will I spend quiet time with God every day?
  • What Bible passages or devotionals will I meditate on?
  • What do I need God to remind me about each day?
Put your answer to those questions in your miracle binder or in your phone, because if we put as much excitement and preparation in meeting with God during the conference as we do an agent, it will transform the way we view the event, our calling, and every meeting we have. 


Writers are excellent at dashing through a crowded meeting hall to find the one table where an acquisitions editor from Zondervan is sitting, but we’re not always good about breathing. In fact, we may be completely out of breath by the time we get to the sign-up sheet. But the more frantic we are, the less connected to God we are.

That’s why it’s important to look for ongoing opportunities to seek God and worship Him—even if it’s just for a moment as we walk between workshops.

Scripture says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech…” (Psalm 19:1-2 NIV). Everything around you whispers the sovereignty of God.  

Conferences usually bring you to a new location. Look for His glory in the flowers, trees, or sky throughout the day and breathe. Breathe with God as you look at the mountains in the distance or feel the breeze. You can have a private worship service as you walk between every appointment. 

This will not only keep you connected to God throughout the day, but it will help keep you calm and prepare you for your next appointment.

The more aware we are of God’s presence, the less pressure we feel when we do get to sit down with Mr. Zondervan, Ms. Tyndale, or Dreamy McAgent.


I can tell you from experience it’s easy for a Christian writer to become self-focused rather than Christ-focused at a writing conference (or so I’ve heard).

God has a purpose for you at that conference beyond what He wants to do in your writing career. We all have things we want to accomplish at a conference, and we shouldn’t abandon those goals. But if you want to guarantee an encounter with God at the conference, be courageous enough to pray this every morning:

“Father, I don’t know what you have in store for me today, but wherever we go, interrupt my plan. Give me a mission beyond my own desires and give me the eyes to see the opportunities to build someone else up.”

That’s a brave prayer. It requires us to completely trust God with the outcome of our own goals and actively look for ways He wants us to help others fulfill theirs.

Here’s some other questions you might ask God throughout the day:
  • Who do you want me to encourage in this room?
  • Who can I advocate for?
  • When do You want me to stop talking so someone else can talk?
  • What appointment do You want me to give up so someone else can have it?
  • Which people do You want me to introduce to one another?
  • Who can I help equip for what You want to do in their lives?
  • Whose heart are You preparing for me to share what you showed me in our quiet time this morning?
One of the best ways to remain Christ-focused is to be others-focused. Sometimes the greatest work God does at a writing conference doesn’t happen in a 15-minute industry appointment inside the main hall, but in a divine appointment on the rocking chairs outside the dining hall.


So many Christians leave a writing conference discouraged, questioning their calling, and doubting their talent. If we’re honest, some even leave doubting God. It’s okay to be disappointed about a situation, but discouragement is a question of identity and purpose. 

When we’re intentional about encountering God at the conference, it answers all our questions of self-doubt because we see God working through us the entire trip.

Maybe I didn’t get the contract I wanted, but it’s hard to believe God doesn’t have a plan for me when He puts me in just the right place to encourage someone who was about to give up. 

It’s impossible to believe He’s distant when I’ve seen Him between every workshop. 

It’s difficult to believe He’s not in control when I’ve had 5 divine appointments with people who weren’t in my binder.

And maybe this is the conference you come home from knowing there’s a handful of new people praying for your walk with Christ and your career rather than the same stack of business cards you’ll lose in a drawer.

Let’s make sure we put our name on God’s appointment sheet.


Joshua J. Masters is a pastor, author, and speaker with a heart for encouraging others. His book on prayer, AMERICAN PSALMS, was a Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade finalist. He’s been featured on CBN Television, HIS Radio, the Light Radio Network, and worked in the film industry as a member of SAG-AFTRA performer. He is a regular teacher and speaker for large groups. A self-proclaimed sci-fi and comic book geek, Josh loves film, pop culture and is known in some circles as THE BAT PASTOR. Joshua was raised in the White Mountains of New England and now serves as a pastor in South Carolina where he lives with his wife, Gina, and their miniature poodle, FRANKLIN THE PUP, who is the subject of his latest book. Josh would love to connect with you on his website,  JOSHUAJMASTERS.COM


  1. This is wonderful Joshua! Thank you for the encouragement. Have a blessed day! :-)

  2. This is so good, Josh!! Some of my best moments at writers conferences haven't been about me at all. It's been meeting people who have needed encouraging, advice, or just to be heard. When our heart is open, and we are not bent at making those important connections for ourselves at all costs, and choose to relax into God and His will for us in that week, He does amazing things. Aligning ourselves with His desires and purposes. There is where the greatest blessing lies.

    1. Julie, Thank you so much for sharing your experience. That is so well said. May we all be looking for the opportunities God puts in front of us.

  3. Great thoughts, Josh. And a reminder that even though we are excited to see friends, work on our craft, and maybe move ahead on our publishing journey, we don’t want to miss the joy of encountering Him and being a part of His plans. Maybe they are more important than our plans?

  4. That's exactly right, Tim. It's amazing our shifting our focus to Him can transform everything about our experience.

  5. I haven't attended a conference yet, though I had hoped to this year. Thank you for these encouraging and enlightened reminders for every day, every situation.
    My own question has become, "Lord, Who do You want to be for me in this situation (whatever it may be), that I couldn't see if I wasn't going through this?" I've learned to listen for His voice. It's often about refining me or upgrading my faith, and often about reaching out to someone in love. He's so faithful to answer. Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom.

    1. What a fantastic perspective, Elisabeth. Thank you. That's a great question to ask and you're exactly right; these tips work for every situation in our every day lives. We don't have to wait for a writing conference :)

  6. "One of the best ways to remain Christ-focused is to be others-focused." I intend to center on this thought at the conference. Thanks.

  7. Love this reminder, Josh. I try to pray for "divine encounters and holy introductions" not just for myself, but to be that for someone else-- to be their encourager or perhaps befriend the newbie that feels lost and a bit intimidated. Keeping this list!