In just a couple weeks I’ll be down in Orlando, FL helping to lead corporate worship at the very last NEXT. The theme of this year’s conference is You and Your Church.
I’ve been involved with the music at NEXT ever since Josh Harris started the conference back in 1999, although then it was called New Attitude. I continued to lead when Eric Simmons took over a few years ago and changed the name to NEXT. It’s a fantastic conference that I’ve been hugely privileged to be involved with. But each year I’ve expected to be told that I wouldn’t be needed any more, since NEXT is a conference aimed at singles and young couples, of which I am neither. But for some reason, they keep asking me back, and I’m happy to participate.
I’m excited that this year, as in recent years, I’ll be leading alongside my son, Devon, and the Na Band. We’re looking forward to leading some of the songs from our most recent album, From Age to Age, as well as songs and arrangements that the Na Band have been working on specifically for the conference.
But what I’m most excited about this year is the topic of the conference: You and Your Church. It’s a subject that has gripped my heart for over three decades.
Back in 1981 I was touring with the group GLAD, traversing the country in an old Greyhound bus, playing in churches, schools, concert halls, parks, and for anyone else who would have us. We had just signed a three album contract with The Benson Company and our fan base was growing. The future looked bright.
But something didn’t seem quite right to me. We would come to a town, set up, play our songs, tell people what God has done for us in Jesus, see people respond, and then move on to the next city. I wanted to be a part of something more lasting and ongoing. I wanted to see people evangelized, converted, baptized, discipled, trained, and released for fruitful ministry. Which meant I wanted to give my life to building local churches on the gospel for the glory of God.
Thirty years later my passion remains the same. If anything, it’s increased. And at NEXT I’m excited that we’ll be passing on that desire to the next generation.
Here’s the line up of topics/speakers:
The Church and the Purpose of God: The Eternal Significance of Your Local Church (Jeff Purswell)
The Church and Membership: Our Privilege and Protection (Jared Mellinger)
The Church and Sunday: A Little Taste of Heaven on Earth (Ian McConnell)
The Church and Friendship: How Not to be a Stupid Friend (Kevin DeYoung)
The Church and Holiness: Why Jesus Says We Need It and Why We Don’t Want to Talk About It (Kevin DeYoung)
The Church and Culture: Reaching Out Without Selling Out (Matt Chandler)
The Church and Disappointment: When Expectations Collide with Reality (CJ Mahaney)
If you’ve lost your vision for the church, aren’t certain about your place in the church, or want to increase your fruitfulness in your local church, then NEXT was designed for you. Online registration ends this Sunday, May 13, at midnight. Would love to see you there!
Here are a few promo videos we put together for the conference:
I for one look forward to having you there leading us in worship! I have been to several of these conferences and every year am blessed through the worship and teaching.
Question; do you know if there is any plan to record the music at Next for CD and/or mp3 purchase? That would be awesome
Thanks, Natasha! We do plan to record the conference but haven’t decided whether we’ll sell the songs or give them away. In either case, you’ll be able to hear them.
This sounds like the exact sort of encouragement I need right now…. but I’m on the other side of the world!
Just wondering why this will be the Final Next? I’m hoping to attend the next WorshipGod conference. But was thinking maybe I would attend a Next conference. But i guess i won’t be :)
Michael, Josh Harris and Grant Layman led NEXT last year, but don’t have the time to continue leading it. CJ Mahaney, me, and others are leading NEXT this year, but we’ll be planting a church this year and won’t have time to lead it in the future either! Maybe some day we’ll come back to it. Thanks for asking.
Hey there friend, we’re praying for your time down in FL. Humble beginnings in a bus…I get that : )
Grace and Peace,
Thanks for your prayers, John!
Thanks so much for serving us at NEXT. My heart was really touched. After reading several dozen bad theologians all Spring (for school), it was life-giving to worship and listen alongside all you dear brothers and sisters.
I love you guys!! =D
Thanks for your kind words, James. It was a joy to be there.