LifeWay Worship Resources had the same problem. Our Worship Conference at Ridgecrest had been running for decades and had always been a highlight of the year. But several years ago, we became convinced we had to stop it so we could do something totally different. This year was the year.
Over a three-year span, our events team began to create a new event we call “WorshipLife.” And two weeks ago, we took our first shot at this new approach with a fair amount of trepidation and excitement. We are still trying to assess all that happened in this first “WorshipLife Event.” But our expectations and hopes were far exceeded by what we experienced as we gathered in Gatlinburg. Here are a few take aways:
Why It Worked.
We had lots of support and help from publishers, sponsors, artists, record labels, speakers, session leaders – all interested in one thing – helping church leaders explore what God is doing and learning how God might work through their ministry where they serve. It was a beautiful picture of a family working together for the sake of all.
Most of all, there was a whole lot of praying going on.
What Was Different?
Increasingly in recent years, the Body of Christ has become segregated around styles and generations. But, this event had leaders from a broad spectrum of ages and preferences – churches with choirs and churches without choirs. Boomers and Gen Zers. And, the great thing is… no one seemed to mind when they experienced something a little outside their own style. This was something God did – and we are so thankful He blessed us in this specific way.
What Do We Do Now?
We feel like God has given us something we can build on over the next few years. We have no idea if this will be something we do for decades like our previous conference. But, for now, we’re convinced He has just started this new work. Registration is already open for next year and many have already registered! We’re even talking about where we would cap registration because the interest is so high.
Here are some early goals for next year:
- Identify strategic voices to add to the line-up of artists and speakers.
- Insure we have just as strong of a line-up in the breakouts (we heard so much about this)!
- Be as intentional with guest publishers in reading sessions and explore if we can expand this.
- Expand WorshipLife Kids to include choirs from churches, not just individuals.
- Expand our space in the convention center without losing the atmosphere.
I’ve got a lot more of these. Several commitments for next year are already in place and will be announced in the next few weeks. Our website – WorshipLifeEvent.com — will have all the information regarding registration.
Check out the closing video of our very first WorshipLife Event. And, make your plans now to come and bring your whole team.
Sometimes you have to stop doing something so you can start doing something else.
Man, this is fun.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.