WorshipGod11: The Gathering

Even though it’s still eight months away, I’m in the middle of planning for WorshipGod11, to be held Aug. 10-13, 2011 at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD.

This year’s theme will be “The Gathering.” The idea crystalized while I was reading Bryan Chapell’s excellent book, Christ-Centered Worship. When most of us plan our meetings we tend to think in separate categories – the songs, the announcements, creative elements, the message, communion, ministry time, etc. Chapell makes a strong case for having a gospel mindedness that affects not only what we do but how we put it all together.

In other words, every time we meet a clear gospel structure should be evident. Why? Because both Scripture and history point to the centrality of God’s redemptive work as the focal point of all we do when we meet. We’re meant to rehearse it, sing about it, pray in light of it, respond to it, work out its implications, and revel in it. The conference will hopefully help us think more clearly and cohesively about how God’s saving work in Christ should both inform and fuel our meetings.

The speakers are going to be Ray Ortlund, Jr., Bryan Chapell, Thabiti Anybwile, Craig Cabaniss, and myself.

In the past we’ve used musicians from Sovereign Grace churches to lead the music for the main sessions. We’ll do that again this year. But I’ve also invited John Martin & Enfield (from Resolved) and Mike Cosper & his band from Sojourn Community Church in Louisville to join us as guest musicians. I’ve appreciated the friendships and ministries of both for years.

This year will mark a first for the WorshipGod conference. We’ll be recording a live album (as opposed to a dead album?). My original thought was to record the album in the studio and have it ready for the conference, but when I looked at my schedule and the conference theme, it seemed like a no-brainer to record it at the conference. So that’s the plan for Friday night.

If you’ve attended a WorshipGod conference in the past, you know we raise the roof when we sing, and that’s what we hope to do Friday night. We’ll be sending out MP3s in advance of the conference to everyone who registers so they’ll already know the songs when they arrive. Should be a great time.

Finally, I’m planning workshops for the conference and would like to hear from you. What themes, topics, or speakers would you like to see at WorshipGod11? The more specific, the better.

We plan to open up registration mid-February. We’d appreciate your prayers in the mean time!

44 Responses to WorshipGod11: The Gathering

  1. Matt Blick January 19, 2011 at 3:20 AM #

    You’re right, those dead albums are awful.

    It’s a GREAT idea about sending the mp3s to delegates. I used to be so sick of going to a conference and having to learn so many new songs there just because the leader was intending to release an album off the back of it. Worship was more difficult when I was stumbling over unfamiliar melodies and lyrics and if they indroduced a great new song we usually couldn’t get hold of the sheet music or audio till a couple of months later.

    Praise God for the internet I say.

    (And I’m looking forward to hearing your live album. Does that mean you’ll be using SG musos rather than session guys? Just asking..)

    • Bob Kauflin January 19, 2011 at 8:52 AM #

      Matt, the plan now is to use some folks from Enfield with some of our musicians. Or musos, as you Brits call them.

  2. Drew Scott January 19, 2011 at 8:26 AM #


    The only other thing I need to know is: when can I register? I’m very eager to finally hear Enfield and Sojourn live. Hoping to bring some friends from the Chattanooga area along this year as well.

  3. Luke Moore January 19, 2011 at 8:27 AM #

    Anything on liturgy would be great!! Or what to do or say in between songs, especially songs that have a different emphasis, such as transitioning from a song about God’s holiness to a song about the cross, etc.

  4. Peter January 19, 2011 at 8:47 AM #

    Hey Bob,

    I attended last time and am looking forward to attending again. I went to the keyboarding track, which was very helpful. One specific area that was brought up at nearly every keyboarding workshop was key changes. No offense intended to the keyboarding presenters (because they were great!), but they didn’t have much to offer. To be even more specific, I’m refering to key changes between songs or as part of extended interludes–in other words, not just the half or whole step bump up for a final chorus!

    In the context in which I minister we tend to sing more songs in a service than the average church represented at WG, and so we are constantly connecting songs together musically. I’m fairly competent at executing these transitions, but I’m always looking to get better, hence my request for this topic to be addressed. I’m also looking for better ways to teach this skill to other pianists in my church.

    Thanks for your work in putting the conference together!

  5. cburge January 19, 2011 at 9:18 AM #

    How about a session based on Isaiah 58 concerning God’s directive for worship and serving the poor?

  6. Craig Shuff January 19, 2011 at 9:52 AM #

    I would find helpful a discussion on creative ways to incorporate Scripture readings into the worship gathering.

  7. Asher Griffin January 19, 2011 at 10:26 AM #

    Workshop idea – how to lead a congregation in worship that desires various types of worship (traditional, contemporary, high church/low church, etc.)

  8. Kyle January 19, 2011 at 10:55 AM #

    Creative and engaging ways to incorporate classic liturgies, including some resources.

  9. Paul Clark January 19, 2011 at 11:18 AM #

    One of the earliest awakenings for me during study at the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies was grasping the Gospel structure in historic liturgies. As a good little Baptist boy raised in the revivalist free church tradition I had missed out on ways the very shape (form) of worship can declare Gospel. The Word is filled with examples. As you have noted, gathering itself is His act first to which we respond.

  10. kate green January 19, 2011 at 11:32 AM #

    Cannot wait! How about a breakout session for leading worship in a small church setting? I lead for a church of about 200 and we don’t plan to grow beyond 300 before planting a church so, we’ll stay small. At this point its just me on vocals and guitar. A session that talks about the practical aspects of leading with one leader and also about transitioning to having a group/band, etc… That would be so helpful. Thank you!!

  11. Chris Edwards January 19, 2011 at 11:53 AM #

    How about something on using sequenced tracks / loops in worship?
    Some music styles pretty much depend on a pre-prepared backing of one sort or another. It would be great to hear wisdom on:
    1) the principles: is this a good or a bad thing in church? a barrier to spontaneity? a distraction? or simply another great tool?
    2) the practicalities: how to do it (well!)

  12. Carmello Chiara January 19, 2011 at 2:08 PM #

    I would love to see John Piper at the conference again. Personally, his message and the enthusiasm with which he BROUGHT it, changed my whole perception on my walk with Jesus. So, since I plan on having many more people from my worship team attend, I’d love them to hear him as well! That being said, I know God uses other speakers than John Piper to speak His truths! John’s just very good at it! Hahaha

    I love the theme this year of “The Gathering”. I hope a lot of emphasis is put on how exciting it is to gather together on a Sunday, Wednesday, or whatever and just worship God! I can’t wait!

  13. Carmello Chiara January 19, 2011 at 2:09 PM #

    P.S. Love the MP3 idea. That’s brilliant.

  14. David Bae January 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM #

    I’d love to see either Matt at WorshipGod, Matt Chandler or Matt Redman.

    Matt Chandler I’d love to hear seminar/workshop on the centrality/overwhelming importance of the Gospel in our lives and our worship. I think it’d be awesome to get a seminar on applying the Gospel as the focus of our lives, rather than thinking of how to apply the gospel to our worship services only.

    Matt Redman, the importance of strong biblical theology in our worship, how important is it to have good theology? How does an application of good theology in worship look? Some practical advice on that. How do we better improve our theology, in a way that would be conducive and relevant to us?

    OR a seminar on, Fame and Name, what steps can we take as worship leaders to help direct the glory to God? By nature of our positions people tend to glorify people up front, the pastor, the worship leader, etc. Especially big name worship leaders like Matt Redman, how can we cope with people’s tendency to do things like that, and what are some important/good steps that we can take to help avoid that kind of mentality?

    I also think a seminar/workshop through equipment would be great. Just general audio equipment that would be the best bang-for-bucks in your opinion. I think alot of churches can’t afford thousands of dollars for a monitor system, etc. So a seminar in which different kinds of equipment are run through and in the experience/knowledge of the presenters what they feel like are some of the best bang-for-your-buck pieces of equipment, things like microphones, monitors, mixers, PAs, etc.

  15. West B. January 19, 2011 at 4:20 PM #

    – Workshop on using Ableton Live in worship

    – Electric guitar teachers w/ different emphasis. The teacher/student ratio was big last year (1/100+). Maybe one class could focus on gear, and another on technique for worship. There’s crossover, but there may be enough interest to bring the numbers down while increasing the benefit players receive.

    – Blending music in large churches. How to use our musical resources more seamlessly & cohesively to demonstrate love for our church and build gospel unity.

    – Vicky Beeching is an excellent songwriter doing some really helpful work in the Kingdom. She seems to have a real ministry for women in worship ministry. Might be nice to have her.

    – I know there might be a little reluctance to this, but it might be beneficial to have a class with Q&A on the gifts of the Spirit, the role of the Spirit in the life of a Christian, etc. I say reluctance because I think y’all are careful to keep the focus off areas that divide. But still, I think it would be edifying. Maybe it could be a conversation between a cessationist and continuationist.

  16. Jonah January 19, 2011 at 7:48 PM #

    That is great what you said about the reason for our gathering togther in Christ. The Bible says ‘do not forsake the gathering of the saints’ but you have done what I feel it is always so important to do – shed light on His word through the revelations God sends down. for someone like yourself who is creating a large gathering for the worship and praise of God it is reassuring to read your words. I am going to be preaching in front of my home churches congregation for the first time in Feburary, I will keep your words in my heart as I meditate and pray before hand.

    If you are looking for more speakers for this conference, for church revivals or for furutre conferences my brother in christ is a powerful prophet of God and is setting his schedule for 2011 for traveling and speaking around the country and world. His name is Michael E. Johnson. You can look him up on facebook.

    God bless you. I pray that His Holy Spirit works though your gathering to accomplish His great commission!

  17. Bruce Benedict January 19, 2011 at 7:51 PM #

    – prayer and resources for contemporary worship during the Lord’s Supper

    – Resources, workshop on telling the whole gospel story in worship through the years. How do we balance Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation in our songs choices?

    – Workshop on weak spots in our sung worship and theology. Trinity, Lament, etc.

  18. Josh Calvetti January 19, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

    I’d love to see a workshop that is oriented towards the projection systems. :)

    And I’m looking forward to the album recording!

  19. Teresa Thomas January 19, 2011 at 10:52 PM #

    I don’t lead worship often (I dont really even consider myself a worship leader) but when I do it’s usually for a women’s retreat for a day event or weekend, and most of the time its for a group of women I barely know (so I’m unfamiliar with the songs they know) and there aren’t other musicians available to join me. So, it’s me, and a keyboard. A *lot* of current upbeat worship music is guitar based, and to play them on keyboard or piano without any sort of percussion doesn’t always translate well. I’d love a workshop that can give insight on how to restructure ‘big instrumentation’ songs for situations like that. Also, I’ve seen people work with midi loops & percussion, etc. I just have no idea how to do that, and would it even be a solution for adding percussion to faster songs played on just a keyboard?

    Secondly, I feel a bit sad that so many worship leaders depend *only* on commercial worship music for their congregations. I just returned in Nov. from a trip to NZ, and they were singing in their churches Matt Redmond, Chris Tomlin, etc. etc. etc. There seems something SO disheartening about that. There was a part of me wishing that the worship leaders in NZ were declaring from the ends of the earth (literally!) God’s glory through Kiwi written worship…not JUST through Matt Redmond or Chris Tomlin, or whatever the latest and greatest song on the radio might be. I am not sure I’m making any sense. I guess, in short, if the Lord can inspire a pastor to share on a specific scripture with a congregation because it’s something he feels the Lord wants THOSE people in that church to hear, certainly He can inspire the worship leaders in the same church to write songs inspired by the scriptures He would have them hear. Then, when visitors come from somewhere else, they can leave with a sense of what God is actively doing in the lives of the congregation in that part of the world…and rejoice! So, I guess I’d love a workshop on worship leaders “Expressing and Keeping their identity in Christ…and not just the most popular song on the radio.”

    And lastly, contemplative worship is such a huge part of my life, and so many intercessors I know depend on contemplative worship music. I know for a fact that I don’t pray NEARLY as much as I should. I think it could be transforming for a church to combine these two groups of people – intercessors and worship leaders – to create “intercessory concerts of prayer”. I dunno – Five minutes of worship, five minutes of prayer (of course with music never stopping. And then repeat this for an hour or so. Maybe a workshop on how to do something like this? It seems if you ask people to come over for an hour to pray, they are not exactly jumping at the opportunity. But, if you asked them to come over for worship and prayer, they would be there.

    I’m sorry I wrote so much…didnt intend to! Well, I’m looking forward to coming, regardless of the workshop selections! It will be a blessing!

  20. Anna January 20, 2011 at 9:27 AM #

    Workshop or Discussion Ideas:

    *addressing why congregations often don’t sing (e.g., functioning as passive observers/consumers, not knowing how to sing or follow, feeling they can’t hear, the key being pitched in high/low ranges, etc.) and how to remedy this issue

    *incorporating classical musicians into the music life of the church (even those with modern music), including corporate worship. (We’re more rare these days, but we’re there, and many churches don’t know what to do with us.)

    *a discussion of the use of commercial/consumer-based music for corporate worship (similar to Teresa’s observation above)

    *take a closer look at the propensity of leaders and participants alike to (a) consider music as the only component of worship and worship as being entirely music, and (b) to think of the music in worship being performed for the congregation (like a concert), instead of a participatory event without concert trappings. Understanding why this happens, if it is a biblical view, and how to address this in the church would be very helpful.

  21. Tom Esch January 20, 2011 at 4:12 PM #

    From a sound tech perspective…

    – Always encouraged by the messages about the sound techs and their hearts. Favorite, life changing sessions in the past include Matt Mason “Worship Team Checkup” and Mark Mitchell “Sanctification through Serving”.

    – As tech organizer for a church plant (what an incredible experience to serve!), I learned there was little info for techs … what to plan, what to expect, your role and responsibility, ‘best practices’, preparing your heart, etc. And now, how to evaluate ourselves after one year. Thanks for the many past WorshipGod sessions by Dave Wilcox and others, which allowed me to piece together what I needed. Yet wish it were all packaged up nicely. Possibly consider tech planning for church plants – tech stuff, people heart stuff – as a topic.

    – Pure sound tech stuff…it is hard to come by training on understanding frequencies, tonal quality, etc. If can keep the basics to just 10 minutes (or do that in a part 1 session), and then spend an entire session on demonstrating frequency changes through live examples, it helps my ear to be trained.

    And last…
    I came to be introduced to Sovereign Grace Music through a few songs sung by Mark Altrogge (example, I Come Running). Would love to hear him sing some of his songs “live”. Of course, love his “comedy”, too! I was there in 2008, missed 2009, looking forward to 2011.

  22. Daniel Ross January 20, 2011 at 11:07 PM #

    I’d love to learn more about working with and managing multiple BANDS as opposed to a worship TEAM.

    I’ve just helped launch our church’s second band and could use all the help I can get since I feel like there’s not a whole lot of people doing this.

    I’m pretty interested in the conference if the budget allows.

  23. Chris Villegas January 20, 2011 at 11:09 PM #

    Workshop Ideas:

    1.) Worship in the Context of Church Plants. Starting a team in the context of an urban setting

    2.) Incorporating various musical styles in the context of a multi-cultural church setting.

  24. Tim Schoap January 22, 2011 at 6:19 AM #

    How about some practical help on ways to help our musicians get better at various styles of worship music? It’s tough to do a contemporary tune well when you are used to just playing out of the hymnal. I’d really like our folks to be able to vary the playing style with conviction.

  25. David Santistevan January 22, 2011 at 1:32 PM #

    It would be great to have a workshop on growing your worship team and also ideas on how to train them throughout the calendar year.

    Also, Matt Redman would be a great guest!

  26. Matt January 24, 2011 at 1:37 PM #

    I’d like to hear some practical advice on guitar technique, tasteful effects implementation, etc.

  27. Michael Sciarra January 24, 2011 at 6:35 PM #

    really glad its not a dead album=D haha

  28. Janet Henderson January 26, 2011 at 8:31 AM #

    Seminar Idea:
    The Reality of Worship Leader Burnout
    (or am I the only one who has experienced this)

    Keeping up with the practical and spiritual demands of leadership
    Help for the derailed leader who finds themself overwhelmed, discouraged, empty, depressed, defeated, etc.
    How do you lead in the midst of conflict or division within the church?

  29. Matt Huckins January 26, 2011 at 1:22 PM #

    I would second what Chris Villegas said– putting together and building a team in a small church/church plant setting. Working with a smaller congregation that is varied (culture, age, taste, etc) and helping them to worship in unity for God’s glory.

    Thanks Bob for taking suggestions.
    God Bless!

  30. J. Aaron Sutton January 27, 2011 at 10:22 AM #


    I would greatly appreciate a seminar or at least a meeting/breakout session for those working in Spanish-language ministry. It would be of great service to Spanish-speaking Pastors both here in the US and in other areas. Thank you so much for considering and thank you all so much for producing Alli en la Cruz…it is a great album and has been such a blessing to our congregation!


    • Bob Kauflin January 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM #

      Aaron, thanks for asking about sessions for Spanish-speakers at WorshipGod11. We’re planning on translating all the main sessions and offering 4 workshops in Spanish. I’ll be noting that once the website is up.

  31. Joey January 27, 2011 at 12:51 PM #

    I am pretty excited about this conference. Do you plan on having bands run through a song to be critiqued by you again? I thought that was very at the 09 conference.

    Also, any chance of setting up a VIP type dinner, where it can be a smaller, more intimate setting, for people to ask you and your team questions on specific situations?

    Thanks for everything you guys do!

    • Bob Kauflin January 28, 2011 at 9:21 AM #

      Joey, we’ll probably do the band evaluation workshop again. Due to the size of the conference, the smaller, more intimate setting is more of a challenge. But we try to be accessible, and always feel free to get people’s email addresses for follow-up.

  32. daniel January 31, 2011 at 9:41 AM #

    No suggestions here…just excited that i have that weekend free this year…and i can finally come. Looking forward to it!

  33. Bob Priest February 1, 2011 at 3:04 PM #

    In the same vein as the comments about commercial music, how about something on incorporating original music from the team or congregations. Would love to hear thoughts on creativity, originality, and breaking out of the same chord progressions, effects and arrangements.

  34. Janice Houle February 2, 2011 at 11:17 AM #

    Hi Bob,

    We’re looking forward to WorshipGod2011. Hoping to come as a group from a few of our French speaking Churches here in Quebec Canada.

    Suggested subjects?

    Small Church Worship – Praising our Awesome God with limited resources

    Victory over inhibitions – Cultivating a Worship team that can really worship, even when the congregation’s eyes intimidate us (nothing extravagant, just real smiles and sincere looks in our eyes)

  35. walt February 3, 2011 at 1:03 PM #

    loved the 09 conference. very helpful in seeking God and seeing Him in corporate worship.

    how about a session on how to get the congregation more involved in musical worship? and i don’t mean in inviting them to join the band or what have you, but to get them involved as more than just singing prescribed songs, often half-heartedly, with little thought to what they are actually saying and why they would say such things. any thoughts on that would be very helpful.

  36. William February 3, 2011 at 3:01 PM #

    Hi Bob,

    Will there any travel or registration scholarships, or some sort of financial assistance that we could apply for? I’d be very keen to attend but travelling all the way from Kiwiland might be quite expensive for me this year..

    • Bob Kauflin February 3, 2011 at 3:15 PM #

      William, email me using the “Contact Me” tab above. Thanks for wanting to come!

  37. Scott Hill February 20, 2011 at 1:06 AM #

    Bob, I’d love to see a session that details how the music department at Covenant Life is organized, and also goes through the process of how planning is done for the services, year, special events etc.

  38. Barry Joslin February 25, 2011 at 5:06 PM #

    I would love to see the master class/workshop again like 09, where the teams lead, and the crowd encourages and critiques.

    It would be great to have specific sessions on running sound and how to EQ specific instruments, especially drums and vocals. Also, could your tech guys generate a list of equipment that is necessary/critical? For example, it would be great to have a prioritized list for local church sound – what’s most important? What boards are good? What brands of speakers have you had good experience with? What are the best wireless mics if you have $1000? Are Monster mic cables worth it? What drum mics are good? If you have to use floor wedges, what are the best kinds to buy? Is it OK to use a rack-mounted pitch-correction unit, and how do you set it up? How do you set up in-ear monitors if you are at a church that does NOT have the luxury of a separate monitor board (like bigger churches have)? Are Avioms worth it? How do you set them up?

    Other ideas – since many of our churches still “expect” to have an adult choir on Sunday morning, how do you transform a church choir into a true worship choir? How do you make good use of a choir? How do you grow a choir both spiritually and numerically?

    How do you do the same for a children’s choir? We have three children’s choirs, and between them and the Sunday AM worship choir, I feel like there is a disproportionate amount of energy and effort expended without a lot of return. Is it worth it to maintain a small worship choir? Here’s another specific question: How do you shut down the choir when it’s been there for 80 years (but it currently is getting smaller and smaller and increasingly difficult to maintain) etc? What are some creative uses for a worship choir that might breathe new life into it such that it might even grow again?

    How do you lead your people to show biblical expression (that is biblically commanded), if they’ve never done so, and the church has never done so?

    How can you prepare the Sunday AM worship setting, so that people are preparing their hearts before the service starts? It is so very frustrating to think that the first 10 minutes of worship are in some sense “wasted” since either people are late and aren’t paying attention until 15 minutes or more into the service. For all they know, we could lead out in a Culture Club medley and they wouldn’t notice. That’s a little hyperbolic, but not much!

    Here’s another idea for a session: “How to Transition from Being ‘The Music Guy’ to ‘The Worship Pastor'” I think churches need to expect more from the worship leader, and I think the worship leader should be as theologically trained as the “senior” pastor. Given the impetus of Col 3:16 (see esp. the commentaries of Doug Moo and Peter O’Brien on this verse) and the place and purpose of corporate music, the position of worship leader should, in my view, be subject to the elder requirements of 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1. I have a BA in music and a ThM and PhD in New Testament Theology, and I don’t know how I would lead worship or craft a service without the benefit of both the musical and theological training. Our people in our churches have been trained (passively) to expect so little out of the one leading worship – the bar is set so very low. I long for the day when we will be training “worship pastors” in the truest sense of the word. Pastoring the people through congregational worship demands a certain level of training (whether at a school/seminary or on one’s own) both in music and theology. We expect so little. My prayer is that the Lord will raise up a new generation of true worship pastors, and that the days of “the music guy” or “the song leader” are long gone. From my reading of your book, Worship Matters, I sense this is your concern and prayer as well.

    Well, this is already much too long. I have other ideas for sessions, but I’ve already typed much too much!

    Dr. Barry Joslin
    Boyce College
    Southern Seminary
    Louisville, KY

    Worship Pastor
    Ninth and O Baptist Church

  39. Barry Joslin February 25, 2011 at 5:24 PM #

    Sorry – two more questions:

    1. Any idea when registration will open?

    2. Will there be any pre-conference intensives this year?

    • Bob Kauflin February 25, 2011 at 9:04 PM #

      Barry, thanks for the workshop suggestions! Glad to report that we’ll be covering a number of the ideas you suggested. Registration is now open! Just go to http://www.worshipgod11.com. I’ll be doing a piano intensive on Wednesday before the conference starts. Ken Boer will be leading a choir intensive. Those who attend that will also sing in the opening session.

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