Where do I begin? 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.