Seeds 2013 Impressions

Today we’re back from Seeds 2013. In case you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, Seeds is a church conference put on by Church on the Move in scenic Tulsa, OK. It’s hard to classify what type of conference it is; they have breakouts for many of the ministry areas in church, and the main sessions are geared toward anyone who works in a church, with perhaps a bent on senior leaders. But that doesn’t really do it justice.

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I found the conference both inspiring and challenging—which is an accomplishment for a jaded conference-goer like myself. At the end of the week, Van, Jason and I all agreed it was easily the best conference we’ve ever attended. And it may sound like we’re just blowing smoke because COTM was so generous and hospitable to us; but that’s not it. Seeds really is a great conference.

From the moment we drove onto the grounds and were greeted with the cheers of volunteers (who stood out in the cold Oklahoma wind all day) to the hospitality suite, to the crew, to the volunteers helping direct people in the hallways, everyone made us feel welcome and special. From what I understand, this is normal (and a big reason for the tremendous growth they’ve experienced).

I had high expectations for the production, and I was not disappointed. Their production manager, Andrew Stone, has become a good friend over the last year or so, and I had been looking forward to hearing his mixes. I’ve seen enough stills to know the lighting (by Daniel Connell) was going to be top-notch. And it was.

We got in a little early for the first session and saw the final bits of rehearsal. I was impressed that the band spent a good 10 minutes running the transition from one song to the next. Some might think this was a waste of time, but I’m telling you, the attention to detail like that is one of the keys to the powerful, seamless and completely non-distracting services they put together. More church bands should spend more time on transitions. 

We got to hang out at audio world for the last session, and I will say, it’s cool standing behind two 56 channel Midas Heritage 3000s. The sound was pretty great, and while it was big and loud, the way they have the system tuned it’s completely listenable. So many churches just go for loud; they go for big, powerful and smooth. There was a distinct lack of high-end harshness that characterizes so many big Ver-Tec rigs. 

It would be impossible to sum up the conference in a single post; so I’m not going to try. Instead, I’ll be going through my notes the next few days and condensing a few of the themes that came up over and over. I’m still processing some of the concepts that were challenging to me, and I came home with some things I know I need to work on. 

Seeds was also incredibly inspiring, but not for the reasons you might expect. Of course it was great to see a church use production technology to create an amazing atmosphere of worship, and everything from sound to lights to video to the band worked together to create that. They do a great job to be sure, but so do other churches. 

What was truly inspiring was hearing the story a church that was sort of stuck in the past and transformed itself into a movement doing an incredible job of reaching the next generation. With courage and conviction, they completely transformed their culture, and reached an entire community for Christ. That is what makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I think about it. 

Stay tuned over the next few posts and we’ll unpack some of the concepts that I found challenging and inspiring. And a big thanks to the folks at COTM—especially Andrew—who made us feel so at home. If you’re looking for a conference to go to next year, Seeds should be on your list. It’s scheduled for March 5-7, 2014; I’d block out the time on the calendar now.

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