That’s the question I ask myself every other year as I start planning for the next WorshipGod conference. And since WorshipGod2013: Called to be Faithful is on the calendar twice in 2013, my answer to the question is obviously yes. WorshipGod West is less than three months away and will be June 27-29 in Orange County, CA. WorshipGod East is a little under 5 months away and will be here in Louisville, July 31-Aug. 3.
I did a post in January describing why I chose this conference theme. Basically, I hope to accomplish two goals. First, I want to encourage, equip, and inspire the leaders and churches who will never have the resources, gifting, or gear to replicate the bands and technological marvels that characterize so many bands on YouTube and at conferences. Let’s be honest. That’s about 90% of us. I realize this more than ever as I participate in planting Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. That doesn’t mean we can’t grow (as I said in my Salute to the Average Worship Leader), but we want to grow in the right ways – being faithful. And we certainly don’t want to live in frustration or disappointment that videos of our meetings don’t look quite as spectacular as what we find on the Internet.
On the other side, I want this conference to encourage those who excel in musical excellence, communication skills, and the latest technology to do what they do even more effectively and to be sure all they’re doing is pointing to the greatness and glory of Jesus Christ. Production and musical elements can be means to an end, helpful means, good means. But at the end of the day, they are merely means. Useful in God’s hands, but not ultimately necessary. When all our comments after a meeting have to do only with tight arrangements, nailing lighting cues, the “worship atmosphere,” and what the musicians were wearing, we’ve wandered away from the purpose for our gathering and potentially into the land of idolatry.
So, in an act of shameless self-promotion, here are twelve reasons why I think you (pastor, worship leader, musician, vocalists, songwriter, techie) should come to WorshipGod2013:
1. Biblical, practical, engaging preaching. Guys who love to preach God’s Word and serve local churches will be explaining in what ways God has called us to be faithul. We’ll have the opportunity to hear from Kevin DeYoung (West), Mike Cosper (East) Craig Cabaniss (pictured), Russ Moore (East), Don Whitney, Kevin Twit (East), and more. I’ll be there, too.
2. Skilled church musicians who love God, his gospel, his Word, and his church. Everyone who leads at the conference may not be a household name (although Enfield and Sojourn Music should be), but that’s okay. They’re leading because, like you, they know what it is to serve in the church week in and week out, with volunteers who want to serve the church more faithfully. And they do it really well.
3. Senior pastors can come for $75. You might not be a senior pastor, but you most likely have one. And you can let him know about this deal. The congregational worship leader is, humanly speaking, the lead pastor, so we want to do whatever we can to get them to the conference. Too often people get home from a conference charged up with fresh ideas and perspectives only to have their thoughts minimized or ignored altogether because their leaders haven’t received the same teaching.
4. Lots of free stuff. in 2011 we gave away a midi keyboard, a $300 Sweetwater gift certificate, a copy of Sibelius, a guitar amp, some iPods, and a bunch of other stuff. Who knows what we’ll give away this year? Besides free, we also do cheap albums and books pretty well.
5. It’s probably closer than it used to be. Over the last decade we’ve held WorshipGod conferences in Maryland where Sovereign Grace Ministries was located. Since moving to Louisville last year, we decided to have one in Louisville and one on the west coast. Louisville just happens to be within a day’s drive for 2/3 of the US population. And the West Coast certainly makes it easier for those who have been crossing three time zones over the years to join us.
6. One responsibility: take it all in. Enjoy 3 whole days where you don’t have to arrange any of the songs, lead any of the rehearsals, practice any of the riffs, or show up early for any of the sessions. Of course, if you’re a conference junkie, you can come early to watch the rehearsals and stay up till 2AM hanging out.
7. Twenty-eight seminars and at WorshipGod East, four pre-conference intensives. You get to pick four seminars, and can download the rest later for free. Grow in your musical chops, become a better leader, learn how to fight trials with worship, grow as a vocalist, understand your relationships better, grow in your prayer life, etc. At East we’ll be offering four intensives on Wednesday for pianists, guitarists, sound personnel, and choir members. More info can be found here.
8. Theology, character, and skill. That’s what we focus on at each WorshipGod conference. Because all three matter.
9. There is a time to laugh (Eccl.3:4). And we make sure we find it at WorshipGod. We take worshiping the Savior very seriously. Ourselves, not so much.
10. Focused Gatherings (East). I’m working on having two informal meetings geared towards those who would like to see more gospel-centered, theologically informed songs and leading in Hispanic churches and African-American contexts.
11. It’s cheap. Right now students can come for $120, groups of 5+ are $145 each, and individuals are $170. That price includes lunch both days, a binder with all the outlines, 5 sessions, and 4 seminars. Did I mention the snacks and drinks? And the giveaways? We’re practically paying you to come!
12. Encountering God. If you’ve attended a WorshipGod conference in the past, you know that it’s about much more than receiving solid teaching, singing great songs together, and growing in your skills. God never fails to change, inspire, convict, and encourage hearts as we behold his glory together (2 Cor. 3:18).
So there’s my pitch. If you’ve been to a WorshipGod conference in the past, feel free to leave a comment as to why someone should think about coming this year. And if you want more info, visit the WorshipGod2013 website.
Hope to see you there.