I like Carl Trueman's work a lot, and there's a lot to like in this post, the latest in a recent series of shots fired across the megaconference bow. But then he writes this:
First, market conferences on the basis of content not speakers. Send a clear signal - from the design of the webpage to the wording of the fliers - that it is what is to be said, not who is saying it, that is important. Indeed, maybe one could be really radical: do not even let people know who is speaking; just tell them the titles of the talks. "Ah, but then no-one will come!", you say. Well, if that is true, then the case for saying that conferences are all about idolising celebrities would seem to be irrefutable.Really? These are my choices? Either I would gladly go to a conference whose speakers were not advertised or I'm an idolater of celebrity preachers? I think not.
It's possible I would want to go to a conference because Tim Keller or John Piper are speaking because I am an idolater of those fine men. But it's equally possible that I would go to a conference where they are speaking because I know, if I'm going to shell out hard-earned money for what a conference is meant to provide, that I want to make sure the speakers are reliable. I have prior exposure to them. I know they are solid teachers and the Spirit has used them to refresh, enrich, and edify me.
Gracious, we might as well argue for taking authors' names off books. (I notice Carl Trueman signs all his blog posts.) All we should be interested in is the subject matter, yes? Who cares if the author is an unreliable, unaccomplished nutcase. We have plenty of time to figure that out halfway through. ;-)
Actually, some folks just tried something like this. I don't know how it went.
Let us not be extreme either way; let us be sensible.
On the other hand, I think Trueman's suggestion "bring in at least 50% of your speakers from churches of, say, 300 people or less" a fine idea. I nominate Bill Streger.