This past week, almost 900 people gathered for our first ever WorshipGod West conference, held June 27-29 at Calvary Church of Santa Ana, CA. They came from as far away as Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Ireland, Canada, and Mexico. Some drove 18 hours to be there, others simply drove down the street.
Although this was a new location for a WorshipGod conference, we enjoyed many of the evidences of God’s grace we’ve seen in previous years. Ultimately, that was due to God’s kindness and the prayers of his people. Humanly speaking, it was due in large part to Sheri Goodrich and the generous staff of Calvary Church, the members of Sovereign Grace Church of Orange County (led by Eric Turbedsky), Paul Medler (Sovereign Grace Ministries conference coordinator), and my daughter/assistant, Brittany. I never tire of thanking God for the people I get to serve with.
Here’s an outline of what we experienced, with a few highlights.
The conference started Thursday morning with music led by my son, Devon, and his band, Norton Hall. Craig Cabaniss spoke from John 4 on the topic of being Faithful to Receive. He reminded us that true worship emerges from the Father’s pursuit of us not our pursuit of him and that we come to God by acceptance of a gift, not performance of deeds. I gave away a bunch of books and let everyone know they could nominate someone to receive a free iPad at the end of the conference by writing on a note card how that person exemplified faithfulness.
People could attend two seminars on Thursday, including one I called Rehearsals for the Real World, and Leading in Prayer with Kevin DeYoung. Just the day before I had received this text from Kevin: “I don’t want to alarm you, but I have an excruciatingly painful case of strep throat right now. I am on meds, but have not turned the corner yet…I can’t speak right now the pain is so intense. I have fever and sweats too.” Praise God for antibiotics and answered prayer.
Thursday night we gave away a bunch of books and CDs as well as an MBox recording set up and a $300 gift certificate to Guitar Center. John Martin and Enfield did a fantastic job leading us in song that night, and Kevin DeYoung spoke from 2 Cor. 4:1-6 on being Faithful to Proclaim. He asked if people in our church could hear and understand the gospel from our songs alone. He also encouraged us to pursue clarity in our meetings because, “You don’t want someone leaving your worship service saying, ‘Man, what was that all about?'”
Friday morning began with more giveaways, including an AKG microphone and a guitar amp/JHS pedals combo. Penitent Thieves, made up of Josh and Joel Sczebel and members of their church in Surrey, BC, led us in a gospel shaped group of songs that featured the sounds of violin, harmonica, and glockenspiel. Jon Payne gave a moving message from John 13 on being Faithful to Serve. He called us to watch Jesus, remember grace, and pursue humility and reminded us that if we’ve been given any kind of authority whatsoever, it is to wash feet.
Friday seminars included Don Whitney teaching on Praying from Scripture, Jon Payne on Cultivating the Gift of Encouragement, and Marty Machowski on Leading a Christ-Exalting Children’s Ministry. It was encouraging to see so many attendees hanging around to engage in conversation. One of the best parts of WorshipGod conferences.
Friday night began with more giveaways, including a Novation MiniNova keyboard and a Breedlove guitar. We also announced the 40 winners of a Battlefield snare drum, generously provided by Roger Kowalewski. We had the joy of having Matt Papa lead us in two songs, Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery and It Is Finished. I was glad to be able to introduce more people to Matt’s songwriting and passion for Jesus Christ. We were led in song by a band that included Ryan, Jonathan, and Meghan Baird and members from two California Sovereign Grace churches. I had the privilege of speaking on being Faithful to Grow, encouraging people to pursue excellence rooted in God’s grace.
On Saturday morning we announced the winner of the iPad that we chose from over 300 entries. Just reading through the testimonies of faithful people was a moving experience. God uses very ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We ended up giving the iPad to a woman who has served for 20 years on her tech team, whose husband had been diagnosed with cancer, and who recently donated her iPad to the church. I led the conference in song with a band that included members from three of the previous bands. Kevin DeYoung closed out the conference with a message on being Faithful to Prepare. It was a sobering and hopeful message from 2 Cor. 4:16-18, reminding us that “a lot of churches prepare people to live well; not many are preparing people to die well.” His message was filled with biblical wisdom for giving people hope in the midst of suffering, encouraging us to draw their attention to the greater glory yet to come. “We will not think, when we see Jesus, that we made too much of him.”
After Kevin finished, the band made its way up to the stage to lead two final songs. I was going to make a few transitional comments but found out my microphone didn’t work. Dave Wilcox, our tech director for the conference, ran down to bring me another mic. That didn’t work either. Finally we found one that worked. I told everyone we had actually planned the whole thing so it would feel more like what they experience in their church. Of course, I was lying. But it was kind of the Lord to remind us that our ultimate focus isn’t perfect services but a perfect Savior, whose glory sometimes comes through more clearly in our failures than our successes.
Looking back on the meaningful conversations, massively loud singing, laughter, and encounters with the living God we experienced at the conference, I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness. We’ve already started talking about hosting a WorshipGod West event next June, and will keep you posted.
In the mean time, we’re turning our eyes to WorshipGod East, taking place Aug. 1-3 (with pre-conference intensives on July 31) at Highview Baptist Church East in Louisville, KY. I’m excited that my church, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, gets to host it. Online registration closes July 19, but the sooner you register the better opportunity you’ll have to attend the seminars of your choice.
Hope to see you there!
Will the audio from main sessions and breakout sessions be made available online?
Steven, you can click on the titles in the post and either listen to or download the main sessions. The seminars will be available in a few weeks. Thanks for asking!
Thanks Bob for your leadership- and of course to everyone involved. Me and my team were so blessed (aside from he fact that i won the mbox :-). ) beyond words. Thanks for serving small churches like us and encouraging / reminding us to be faithful. Thanks for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit – for the “prophecy” you sang, it was really a big encouragement and actually an answered prayer as I was asking The Lord for one. Thanks (Sov grace people) for your generosity and humility (absence of celebrity complex). To God be the glory for all this and more. Can’t wait for the next one
Will the worship sets from the main sessions be available online or just the messages?
I’ll post the songs we sang in the next day or two. Thanks for asking.
I’m glad you guys will be releasing stuff from WG West. I was curious if there will be anything released from the THINK conference you just did recently?
Thanks a lot!
Rick, I believe Southern has already posted the messages.
When you post the songs, will you include the titles, composer and publisher, maybe even CCLI#? Was everything you did on the Sovereign Grace Music Website? I really enjoyed it when I could hear you playing the piano.
Thanks for asking, Diana. I’ll give links for all the Sovereign Grace song charts, but can’t do that for others. Thanks for your encouraging words!
Can’t wait for WGEast. It’s going to be great!
My team and I were so blessed to be able to attend. This was the first conference that I have had the joy and pleasure of bringing my entire team (and spouses) along! We were edified and affirmed in keeping the Gospel of Christ central in all things. I also wish to say that Joel Sczebel was a huge encouragement to me. The song Grace and Peace is a jewel and I’m so thankful to see such rich songwriting coming from someone so young. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Bob, our God has graciously used you to leave a mark on so many worship guys like myself. I am thankful for your faithfulness. To God be the Glory!
It was so good seeing you at the conference, Kevin. Wish we could have gotten more time together!
Congratulations on a very successful conference for WorshipGod West! I missed it! Is going to be an annual event, I sure hope so!
Jo-Ann, we’re looking into hosting it again next year in California. Hope you can come!
Thanks for answering my question about the titles of the songs used in the praise portion of the main sessions. I will appreciate getting the links to all the Sovereign Grace songs, but is there any way we could get the titles, composers and, if possible, CCLI # for the others. I think that information was on the bottom of most of the powerpoint texts, but it was so small that I couldn’t read it. I wasn’t expecting links to everything. Thanks.
Diana, all the songwriters and songs are posted here. The CCLI number we displayed was the CCLI number for Sovereign Grace. Hope that’s helpful!
Awesome! Thanks so much.
Bob, I just wanted to say thank you. This was my 4th WorshipGod conference and I was very glad you and your team chose to do a west coast version. Every time I am at a WG conference I am always reminded of the need to discover and celebrate evidences of grace in peoples lives and am very grateful for the examples of servant leadership that you and your team display to the attendees.
I also want to express to you how much it meant to my wife to have won the iPad. I had attempted to go to the conference and spent most of the conference in the hotel room because of some complications from chemotherapy that I just couldn’t push through. Providentially, there could not have been a better time for my wife to have a “win”, and she expressed to me how touched she was by your sentiment towards her when she went down to receive the iPad.
As of a few weeks ago, my scans are clear and I am back leading worship. Thanks again for your service to us.
Scott, thanks so much for your encouragement and for giving me an update on how you’re doing. Praise God for his faithfulness! Giving your wife the iPad was one of the highlights of the conference!
Anymore developments regarding another WorshipGod West event this June? We’d really like to bring a bigger part of our team down there this year.
Julian, thanks for asking! It will be July 16-19 at the same place. Details will be out in a few weeks.