I’m so grateful for all God did at WorshipGod East this past weekend. Over 1000 church leaders and musicians gathered for 2 1/2 days around the theme Called to be Faithful.
We started Wednesday night with a pre-release event featuring songs from our new album, Grace Has Come: Songs from the Book of Romans. We hope to release some of the songs from that night as audio and/or video tracks. My son, Devon, led a band of very fine musicians from 5 churches, 4 of them local. I was freshly grateful for the gospel partnerships the Lord is enabling us to form in Louisville.
The conference took place at Highview Baptist Church, East Campus. I can’t say enough about the kindness, generosity, servant hearts, and joy of the folks we worked with. It was like they were putting the conference on. I was also encouraged by the number of people from my church, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, who made food, greeted, set up, provided rides, and attended to the host of other tasks involved in putting on a conference.
Here are a few thoughts and highlights:
It’s impossible to fully plumb the glories of God and the gospel. One attendee thanked me that we didn’t have anything “new” to offer at this WorshipGod conference. I happily agreed. It’s not that we don’t address new topics, talk about new gear, or introduce new songs. It’s just that the reason we do what we do never changes. We are passionate about using music and the Word to proclaim God’s glory in Christ in the power of His Spirit, and motivating others to do the same. While there are lots of ways someone can benefit from the conference, the most meaningful comments I receive relate to how Christ became more amazing, how the gospel became bigger, and how Scripture became precious. It’s why we do what we do. We have no secret weapon. Only the gospel of God’s gospel, God’s Word, and God’s Spirit, working through redeemed sinners. And that’s enough.
It really is better to give than receive. One of my favorite parts of WorshipGod conferences is giving stuff away. This year the “stuff’ included a Breedlove guitar, a MiniNova keyboard, an AKG mic, an MBox Mini, a Guitar Center gift card, JHS pedals and a Vox amp, along with books, CDs, and other musical items. We do it as an expression of the gospel. 2 Cor. 8:9 says that though Christ was rich, he became poor for our sake. 2 Cor. 9:8 adds that God is able to make all grace abound to us so that we may abound in every good work. God is lavishly generous and wants us to be like him. During the conference, people could nominate another attendee to win an iPad by telling us how they demonstrated faithfulness. While there were many worthy winners, the iPad went to a woman who has faithfully brought her 3 children to WorshipGod conferences for a number of years. Two of them battle Muscular Dystrophy, and while caring for them she also serves heroically in her church. We ended up giving an iPad to her children as well. It was a sweet moment, accompanied by many tears.
Every meeting has eternal significance. Kevin Twit served us well in the last message by reminding us that our meetings are meant to prepare people for suffering, death, and heaven. A couple choice quotes:
Corporate worship is not just corporate emoting, but spiritual formation.
Worship should stir our longing for heaven, not just pacify our pain.
In his message he shared that one of the students in his college ministry had died just that week in a hiking accident. What he didn’t know is that one of the WorshipGod attendees was going to return home to find that his 20 year old son had died in a tragic car accident. Suffering and death are always closer than we think. Let’s plan our meetings with that in mind. And please pray for Dean and his family as they grieve the loss of their son.
Faithfulness is a little celebrated and much needed commodity. Carl Trueman wrote, “the church has survived throughout the ages not just—or even primarily—because of the high-profile fireworks displays of the great and the good, but because of the day-to-day faithfulness of the mundane, anonymous, nondescript people who constitute most of the church, and who do the grunt work and the tedious jobs that need to be done.” The majority of WorshipGod attendees fit that description. But so do the members of our churches. While our culture constantly tempts us to pursue numbers, success, and fame, God seeks out the foolish and the weak so that he might display his wisdom and power. I was grateful for the folks at WorshipGod who are seeking with all their hearts to be faithful.
Conferences can serve the church, but they aren’t the church. This was my 11th WorshipGod event, andI have to say that I really enjoy putting on conferences. Yes, they’re a ton of work, but I’m surrounded by people who love to serve (including my wife and kids), and the fruit can be rich and rewarding. We get to serve people from all over the country, and even from other countries. But the day after WorshipGod, I got to lead in my local church. We had some difficulty with high end feedback during rehearsal and the sermon was recorded on a room mic rather than a direct line. In other words, we experienced unexpected glitches and problems like most churches. But nothing kept us from teaching and encouraging one another in song, feasting on the gospel, receiving God’s word from Psalm 88, enjoying sweet fellowship, and encountering the Spirit’s presence. And we were strengthened together for living lives worthy of the gospel. And although I look forward to future WorshipGod events, I have an even greater anticipation for meeting with my church next Sunday. I hope you do, too.
Good thoughts! Thanks again for another great conference. We brought a few “newbies” this year but we were all refreshed and encouraged by the great worship and solid teaching.
Thankful for SGM!
(and I totally hear you about serving the next day at church, we left before the last session as we had a 12 hr drive and a 7:30am soundcheck the next day!) :-0
Mike, thanks for all the sacrifices you made to be part of the conference. So glad you and your wife could come!
Bob, I love that Car Trueman quotation. Where is that from? Is that the full quotation you read at the conference?
Andrew, the quote is from Trueman’s book Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread. You can get it on Kindler here. Here’s the full quote: ”
Thanks so much for the encouraging words. Although I’ll probably never make it to a WorshipGod conference (I’m in South Africa), I’m enormously encouraged by reading your thoughts on it.
I got my Grace has Come album last week and we’ll definitely be singing many of those in church, but for now I get to listen to gospel truth at work!
So much could be said and expressed, but alas, this will have to suffice: Thank you and everyone who was involved with this conference. The thing I am most grateful for is the example you and your team(s) set in keeping the gospel, and the Word, front and center in your planning and leading. As much as I wanted the singing to continue forever, I could not wait to hear the Word be preached – Why? Because our hearts and minds were so pointed to Christ and his Word in the songs, readings and teaching moments that we simply could not wait for the Bible to be opened – or, should I say, remain open.
When you asked, on the first day, for first-time attendees to raise their hands, I was greatly encouraged to see so many new people. And, again, I was even more encouraged that a new generation of worship leaders witnessed what sound, biblical corporate worship looks like.
Completely unrelated and besides the point: we sure missed Mark Altrogge!
Bob, I want to share about the night we did extended spontaneous singing after “Not In Me” and a pastor came by the Spirit to share a prompting regarding a highway and uncertainty about what was ahead. Well, the night before, one of the guys that came with us to the conference, struggling with some baggage from his former life (facing possible prison time in another state) prayed that someone would speak to him God’s peace about what lies ahead. We were in the second row and this pastor looked directly at him and spoke from God’s word. An amazing, powerful moment. This newlywed, whose father striped away a the college tuition that he came to Kentucky for, who is out of work and who faces the consequences of past sin experienced the peace of God in spite of circumstances. OH, WHAT AN AMAZING LOVE I SEE, THAT YOUR GRACE HAS COME TO ME. thank you for your faithfulness and I look forward to an opportunity to encourage you in some way. It is a joy to serve in His kingdom with you and your family.
Kevin, what a powerful testimony. Thanks for sharing it. And thanks for coming to the conference!
This conference was incredible. It’s amazing how God works! While at the conference, my team and I gained valuable insight and practical tools for worship, yet I left feeling rested and refreshed. We were leading worship the next day, so we had to leave early, but I was so ready to get back and begin the journey of incorporating some of the things we had learned.
Our first time at Worship God East will definitely not be our last. I am already praying for provision in 2015 to bring my entire team (about 20 or so). Thanks again for your ministry and heart! You can be confident that your work is impacting thousands and thousands of lives all over the world.
Chris, thanks for your kind words of encouragement. Feeling “rested and refreshed” after the conference is surely the grace of God!
Hmmm…did someone leave the Talkback Mic on and that’s why service was recorded through the room? ;-) That happened to us the other month – two weeks in a row! But God was still glorified and His message was still heard :-)
Daniel, we have three ways of recording the message. A computer, a handheld recorded, and the video feed. The computer and handheld recorded both maxed out on capacity and stopped recording. The video recorded was accidentally set to record from the camera rather than the “line in.” Oh well..you’re right. The word of God was still preached and God glorified!
Encouraged to here your respect for “THE CHURCH,” i.e., not being a conference etc. I read that you find it at your place of worship on Sunday. I am just curious, have you ever read about what THE CHURCH claimed it was, as it moved from apostolic times into the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th centuries and beyond? Would love to hear your answer. Thanks much!
Hey, Matt. Thanks for commenting. If I’m reading your right, you may have misunderstood me. Our meeting on Sunday is an expression of the church gathered, but the church is made up universally of all those who have been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. A third NT use of the word “church” is to describe all the Christians in a city. Is that helpful?