ForgeCon11 Overview ( #forgecon11 )

I've spent a couple of days now, trying to get my head around the massive information dump I affectionately call ForgeCon 11. If you read this blog with any regularity, you may remember ForgeCon 10, the inagural event. ForgeCon is a worship conference designed for the small church. Not as big and fancy as Catalyst or Re:Create or the NWLC, because it's not meant to be. ForgeCon is aimed at small-church worship leaders and pastors, part-timers, volunteers - basically the majority of church leaders in America.

Held again in beautiful Ocean Grove, NJ, this year's conference benefitted from better weather than ForgeCon 10. Turnout was fairly similar, even with the fact that there were no "big name" worship leaders like we had last year. Many ForgeCon 10 alumni were present, along with some new people. One thing that was almost universally commented on by those who had been to both events was that while the first conference had kind of a "Let's check this out and meet some people." atmosphere, this year's event had more of a "I need you to help me." vibe. Worship leaders were hungry for information, advice, training, and encouragement. We had people attend from as far away as Hawaii and Uganda.

One of the hallmarks of ForgeCon is that the artists and speakers are required to mix with the attendees pretty much all the time. There's no green room, there's no backstage, there's no staff entrances. There's people sitting at tables, on couches, on park benches, pouring their hearts out, sharing their struggles, hoping for something to take home and be a catalyst for change.

I led a session called "How to Generate Passion and Creativity in a Small Team with Limited Resources." That's a mouthful. I was honored by the size of the group who attended, given the fact that my session was running concurently with six others. In that session, I met a small church worship leader who struggles with how to make the songs his congregation wants work with his small team's talent level; a woman who's team is insecure when it come to the leading of the Holy Spirit during worship; a young man who has to try and balance finding music that is both attractive to his flock, and theologically sound; a couple who contend with an "us against them" generational gap in thier congregation that at a tipping point. And more - incredible stories from people in the trenches, doing the job week after week for little or no pay, and little or no appreciation.

Over the next week or so, I am going to craft out some blog post hitting at different aspects of the conference. In the meantime, if you are on Twitter (and you should be) search for the hashtag #forgecon11 and read some of the as-it-happened reactions to the week.


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