Reflections from WorshipGod11

WorshipGod11:The Gathering was filled with evidences of God’s grace from start to finish. Over 1800 people came to grow in their understanding of how to proclaim and celebrate the glorious story of the gospel when we gather.

Thus far over 200 people have filled out the online survey for the conference. We ask for feedback on every aspect of the conference, what most served them, and what we could change. We’ve benefited immensely over the years from the feedback we’ve received.

These are a few of my highlights and some of the things I learned from people’s responses:

Multiple generations with different music preferences can sing God’s praises together.
The age range of the people who came to WorshipGod was pretty evenly distributed. The largest group was in the 26-40 age range, and we had about an equal number on either side of that from 15 to 65. It was clear from the surveys that people sometimes preferred one band over another, but when we sang together you’d never know it.

You can’t please all the people all the time.
Here’s a sample of some of the comments we received:

The speaker’s points were so well-connected and clear. VS The speaker was unclear and seemed to ramble. (same speaker)
Too many new songs. VS Loved that we learned so many new songs!
The Scripture reading seemed a little stilted and distracting. VS  The best part was the scripture reading in-between the songs.
More of Mark Altrogge. VS Less of Mark Altrogge. (We’re planning on keeping him right where he is)

My goal in hosting the conference is to serve most of the people most of the time. We can always tweak, improve, and adjust things, but we’ll never arrive at the point where every person is completely satisfied. It’s a fallen world, God made us differently, and our ultimate aim is to glorify Jesus, not ourselves, and to please God, not people.

Use people you think will do the best job, not those who are the most well known.
Each time I host this conference, I try to get speakers and musicians who will most line up with the theme, heart, and purpose of the conference. Those don’t always turn out to be household names. Many attendees had never heard of Enfield, Sojourn Music, Bryan Chapell, Ray Ortlund, or others. But it was clear from the surveys that once they were grateful to be exposed to their ministry.

Giving gifts away takes preparation, but it’s contagious.
At the start of the conference I explained that we love to give away lots of gifts at WorshipGod as an expression of the kindness and mercy God has shown us in giving his Son to redeem us and reconcile us to himself. Gifts like books, CDs, shirts, keyboards, software, guitar amps, gift certificates, iPods, and iPads. In ’09 we came up with categories of people to give gifts to that reflected servanthood, sacrifice, or some other biblical value, e.g., someone who served on their tech team the longest, a whole family that came to the conference, a mom with 3 kids under 5. This year, I didn’t prepare as well, so I ended up giving many gifts to people who jumped up first or made the most commotion (“You have not because you ask not.”) I want to give this more attention at the next conference. But I was blessed to receive this comment:

Led by your example, we purchased cd’s and books to bring home to our church and gave them away this Lord’s day.

May the gift giving only increase for the glory of the Savior!

Raising almost $1400 for Covenant Mercies.
I was thrilled that we could sell an album at WorshipGod11 called  Hope of Africa, put out by Covenant Mercies. It was recorded inside a small mud church in rural eastern Uganda, and all the proceeds went to building Christian schools for children in Uganda and Zambia.

Let people know what you’ve already taught.
Each year at WorshipGod we try to put together teachings that focus on the areas of heart, theology, and practical skills. But there’s never enough space or time to cover everything I’d like. This year people asked us to include teachings that we’ve given at past WorshipGod conferences. I want to do a better job letting them know.

Four hours is too long to ask people to stand, especially late at night.
Pretty obvious, I know. But that’s what we asked people to do on Friday night at the conference when we recorded a live album not once, but twice, from 7-11PM. Fortunately, a number of people had this attendee’s experience:

I was uncomfortable about the idea of standing up for 3.5 hours and going over the same songs repeatedly. What ended up happening surprised me. I not only experienced and loved the gospel afresh in nearly every song but I found myself in wonder over the fact that it never gets old. I turned to my friends next to me and said that several times in amazement. “I can’t believe that this doesn’t get old.”

Nope, the good news of the gospel will never get tired. But until we get glorified bodies, we will.

Title seminars carefully.
We try to be pretty specific in the seminar descriptions for the conference. But I learned that sometimes people choose a seminar based on the title alone. So a number of people were surprised to find out the seminar on creativity they signed up for was for songwriters.

Pastors need a conference like WorshipGod as much as, if not more than, musicians.
We had over 175 pastors at WorshipGod this year, including 50 senior pastors. But over 775 worship leaders came. That means at least 600 worship leaders are going back to churches with senior pastors who haven’t heard any of the teaching they received at the conference. Can you say “potential conflict?”  A Sovereign Grace senior pastor came to WorshipGod for the first time this year. This is what he wrote me:

I regretted not attending sooner. My whole vision of what should be happening on Sunday was transformed by the conference. I believe we had been missing great opportunities to build up the congregation during our “worship” times. I felt as though we were strategically using only 60% of our Sunday service. I believe every Sr. Pastor should attend or at least listen to all the teaching material from the conference. My team was so grateful that I had come with them because many times they felt my direction and requests were actually going against the effectiveness of the worship effort.

Not sure how we’re going to do it, but I want to target pastors and senior pastors much more strategically at future WorshipGod conferences.

With the right people, you can record a live album at a conference.
I had absolutely no faith for recording a live album at a WorshipGod conference until Steve Cook moved back to Gaithersburg to help me oversee songwriting and producing our albums. He carried the lion’s share of the load for the recording, leaving me free to focus on other things. I’m continuing to learn how important teams and delegation are.

God always does more than we can ask or think.
In the weeks leading up to the conference, I prayed that God would glorify his Son, equip people to serve more effectively, and reveal his gracious presence in our midst. He seemed to do that and more. The weather was perfect on Thursday and Friday, which was important given the outdoor seminars under tents.  Relationships that will have a lasting impact were formed and renewed. The recording actually went according to plan, even if the plan wasn’t as good as it might have been. And I encountered God’s glory, truth, and love at different times during the singing and preaching in ways I didn’t expect.

All this to say, while there are ways the conference could have been better, I’m one happy man. I have 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord.

And if you know the saving grace of Jesus Christ, you do, too.

21 Responses to Reflections from WorshipGod11

  1. Aaron Turner August 26, 2011 at 2:35 PM #

    I am a senior pastor who attended the conference. I think in the promotion of the conference it should be emphasized that it has much to offer a senior pastor, rather than creating another conference for senior pastors.

  2. Tyler Margeson August 26, 2011 at 2:44 PM #

    Thanks for your thoughts, Bob. WG11 was a spiritually refreshing and engaging time. Christ was magnified in my heart and my soul was uplifted. After WG09 I was really looking forward to this year and I was not dissapointed. Can’t wait till WG13!

  3. Gayle Hughes August 26, 2011 at 3:08 PM #

    Thank you for your daily dedication to the Gospel, pleasing the Father and serving the Bride. She is purer because of the work of the Spirit done during WG11.

  4. Andrew Crossgrove August 26, 2011 at 6:58 PM #

    Like Aaron, I am a Sr. Pastor. I have attended two Worship God conferences and have found them to be of great benefit to me as a Sr. Pastor. This conference was very timely for me. I came to WG11 completely defeated – I wrote my resignation letter earlier that Wednesday. I deleted it later that day. The conference was used by God in a powerful way for me. Thank you!

    • Bob Kauflin August 26, 2011 at 7:08 PM #

      Andrew, your story is very moving. Would you mind emailing me through the contact tab above and filling me in on more details? Praise to Jesus, our great high priest, who knows how to meet us in our needs and weaknesses.

  5. Carmello August 26, 2011 at 7:40 PM #

    During WG11 my wife was very sick and, honestly, it was hard for me to stay focused on the conference while I knew she was either next to me sniffling away, or she was in a tent outside battling the heat and her sickness! It was a very bizarre time for me, but I can still say that I encountered God in ways much different than I had at WG09. Where at WG09 God was wanting to free me from a pattern of major sin in my life (and he DID!!!!!!!!), this time around it was more of a confirming of calling and a willingness on my part to be used for His Kingdom. My favorite “worship” memory was singing out “TO THE PRAISE OF YOUR GLORY! TO THE PRAISE OF YOUR MERCY AND GRACE!” over and over while we tried to get a good take. But OH MAN was it GREAT GREAT GREAT to sing that song four or five times. It truly never got old because the Gospel DOES NOT GET OLD!

  6. Dan Lyle August 27, 2011 at 5:14 PM #

    Thursday night was the best part for me! The Thabiti/Enfield combo was unreal! I’m not coming back to 2013 if they aren’t there : )

  7. Mark Altrogge August 29, 2011 at 12:43 PM #

    Bob, thank you for the hundreds of hours of thought, planning, prayer, sacrifice, and hard work you put into this conference. You are doing so much to glorify Christ and build up his church. Remember me in heaven – I’ll be the guy way in the back waving, volunteering to polish your crowns.

  8. Catherine August 29, 2011 at 3:54 PM #

    I was very blessed at the conference and I am so glad that you are committed to equipping men and women in worship leadership. It was a refreshing time for me and I can only hope that I can convince my worship team to come with me next time.

  9. Barry Joslin August 31, 2011 at 1:59 PM #

    Many many thanks for these conferences. They have been used to completely redirect my own ministry and sense of calling.

    The live recording was fantastic. After the second recording, I would have been happy to do it again. The new songs form Risen and The Gathering are some of SG’s best and personal favorites. Speaking of which, we taught “Behold Our God” this past week, and to say the least, it caught on. Families were using it that night for their family worship.

    Let me put my two cents in: More Mark Altrogge! He is a joy and delight. WG wouldn’t be the same without “Ticket Boy.”

    We are indebted to SGM, are profoundly grateful for you, and are praying for you.

    Barry Joslin

  10. David Lovelady September 1, 2011 at 8:49 AM #

    Mr. Kauflin,

    On behalf of my wife, (Melissa – she attended with me) myself and all of us at Calvary Chapel Goodyear, Az… Mucho Thank yous. Which is to say, “many thank yous” – for you easterners :-)

    Melissa and I were blessed beyond measure. I like to think of it as 10,000 x 10,000 charms. Many of which we have been blessed to pass on to our congregation, already! I’m certain we have at least two years of blessings to share… From a 3.5 day conference!

    And we are looking forward to 2013!

    I’m wondering. Will the conference classes be available for download soon?

    Prayers, Love & Adoration,
    David Lovelady
    Music Coordinator

    • Bob Kauflin September 1, 2011 at 2:57 PM #

      David, thanks for your encouragement. I’ll post on Worship Matters when the seminars are ready for download. Hopefully within a few weeks.

  11. Matt Stuebner September 3, 2011 at 2:47 AM #

    Thank you Bob and all of the people who helped and organized this wonderful conference. This was my second opportunity to attend since WorshipGOD 08. I am so thankful and refreshed for the true joy you and the teams displayed as you worshipped and guided us to see and savor Jesus. It is my daily prayer that our church would grow in joyful praise and thanksgiving. May God by His riches and glory continue the good work He is doing through the gifts of music He has given you and all of the songwriters. Thank you for truly helping us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Keep on rejoicing! Your joy in Christ encourages us press on.

  12. Geoff Gentry September 8, 2011 at 2:02 AM #

    Looking forward to the CD after hearing about it from two worship leaders from my church.

    Just did a blog post and thought you might enjoy it.

  13. Andy September 14, 2011 at 1:01 PM #

    Found this today, and in honor of Heroic Piano:

  14. Carmello Chiara September 16, 2011 at 2:47 PM #

    Just wanted to come to this blog and thank Bob and the WorshipGod11 worship teams for the songs done at the conference. Last night our worship team held a practice specifically for new songs and we did four that we heard from the Conference. Specifically “How Great is Your Faithfulness”, “Psalm 62”, “Eternal Praise”, and “Now Why This Fear”. All incredible songs with BIG choruses that are great to sing out as LOUD AS POSSIBLE haha. Thanks again.

  15. Deb Thompson September 20, 2011 at 6:24 PM #

    One of the highlights of the conference was Bryan Chappel’s sermon on Isaiah 6. I’ve told others about it and now they want to hear it too! Do you know when that will be available for us to hear online?

  16. Al Ingham October 7, 2011 at 9:51 PM #

    Nice one Bob. I totally agree with your first two points. Both of these crop up almost weekly at our church – the tension between young and old and the songs that are chosen to reflect that, plus the fact that even when you do that, it was too loud, or that it was in a bad key etc.
    I guess we need to remember that we should focus on pleasing God, not pleasing people.


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