In April, I had the chance to attend Together for the Gospel 2016. I have wanted to attend a Together for the Gospel gathering for a few years, since I first learned of the conference when my parents attended in 2012. I figured that 2016 would be the perfect time to go, since I was alreading living in Louisville, and I am so glad that I went!! Having the chance to join over 10,000 brothers and sisters to encourage one another, to sing together, and to hear from God’s Word was absolutely incredible. I just want to share a few general thoughts and reflections about the conference with you.
My favorite part of Together for the Gospel was the rich, gospel-centered singing. This part of the gathering was led by Bob Kauflin, director of Sovereign Grace Music. All of the songs that we sang came from the Hymns of Grace hymnal that conference attendees received. This is a new hymnal from The Master’s Seminary that incorporates rich, old hymns that have encouraged Christians for hundreds of years, with rich, new hymns including songs from Matt Boswell, Sovereign Grace Music, Sojourn, and Keith and Kristyn Getty. It was so encouraging to be able to look around the room and see over ten thousand others passionately worshiping their Creator. Nothing I have ever heard compares to the sound of hearing ten thousand voices praise our great God; it was a small glimmer into what heaven will be like.
If you want to learn more about what songs we sang, you can check out the article Bob Kauflin posted on Worship Matters here.
Together for the Gospel was a time of learning: lots of learning! Over the course of three days (Tuesday-Thursday) there were ten general sessions, a breakout session, and a gathering. It was awesome to hear from so many men who loved the Lord and wanted to proclaim His glory to the world. All of the topics were related to the reformation, but looked at it in various ways that are relevant and practical today. We heard from many speakers, including: Ligon Duncan (Why the Reformation is Not Over), Albert Mohler (We Have Only One Priest: The Reformation as a Revolution in Ministry), Mark Dever (Endurance Needed: Strength for a Slow Reformation and the Dangerous Allure of Speed), CJ Mahaney (Sustained in Suffering by the Saga of Job), John Piper (The Bondage of the Will, the Sovereignty of Grace, and the Glory of God), Thabiti Anyabwile (The Reformation Began with Paul: Justification the Same Yesterday, Today and Forevermore), John MacArthur (Christ’s Call to the Reformation), Kevin DeYoung (Can We Be Glorified Without Being Sanctified? Good Works, Good News, and Christian Assurance), Matt Chandler (God’s Glory as the Base of Our Courage), and concluded with David Platt’s message (Martyrdom and the Mission: Why The Reformers Died In Their Day, How We Must Live In Ours). If I had to pick just one favorite..I couldn’t! I loved each of the messages for different reasons, but a few of my favorites were: Martyrdom and Mission, Can We Be Glorified Without Being Sanctified, Sustained in Suffering by the Saga of Job, and The Bondage of the Will, the Sovereignty of Grace, and the Glory of God. If you only have time to listen to a few messages, I would recommend looking to those ones first.
Attending the conference was also a part of a Church History class I took – Topics in the Reformation – so prior to coming to Together for the Gospel I had spent much of the day on Monday, and the morning on Tuesday in class learning about the reformation. While I started the conference already mentally exhausted, I was glad I had attended the class as it gave me a deeper understanding of the reformation, which enabled me to better understand the messages delivered at the conference.
If you were not able to attend the 2016 conference, or if you want to listen to the messages again, you can find the recordings here.
Together for the Gospel was not only a rich time of learning and singing, but it was also a sweet time of fellowship. I was incredibly thankful to be able to attend the conference with my mom and dad and a large group of Canadian friends. The fellowship we shared was incredibly sweet, and I was encouraged to be able to spend time with each of them after being away in Louisville for a few months.
It was also incredibly sweet to meet new brothers and sisters, and have the chance to hear their stories. In line at Starbucks I had the chance to introduce my dad to CJ Mahaney, who pastors Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, where I am a member. I also had the chance to meet David Platt early one morning, also in line at Starbucks, before the book store opened. In addition to getting to chat with these speakers, I also had the chance to hear stories from many attendees. Whether it was sharing about Boyce College with a lady who commented on my tee shirt, to hearing stories from a missionary who just returned from Africa when I was walking to the bookstore from Starbucks, to just chatting with people in line for food, the washroom, the bookstore, or to get into the convention center. It was really encouraging to me to meet people who are going through different things and live in different places, who have come together for the purpose of the gospel.
While it is great to come together to sing and hear from the Word of God, if you miss out on the fellowship aspects of these conferences, I think you are missing a lot. If you get the chance to attend Together for the Gospel, or CROSS Conference, or WorshipGod, or any other gathering of Christians, please make an effort to get to know someone new! It might be kinda awkward to just start talking to someone, but getting to hear their unique story is worth it!
Conference attendees were also given several books, including a commentary on Psalms, two study Bibles, a Hymns of Grace hymnal, and many other resources. This was what came home with me the first day: https://www.instagram.com/p/BEH8fBlg1Gb/?taken-by=sydneyherron and there were many more books to come in subsequent days!
If you want to see the complete list of giveaways, you can see that here.
In addition to the free resources received, there was a huge bookstore with resources hand-selected by the Together for the Gospel organizers. Not only was it helpful to know that any of the resources you picked up at the conference were going to be biblically sound, but many of these books were heavily discounted. While there were great discounts on most resources, sometimes better prices were to be had at amazon.com or christianbook.com, so it was helpful to price-check just in case there was a better deal to be had somewhere else.
As a single, college-aged girl, I was definitely in the minority – most of the attendees were men who were involved in pastoral ministry, and women who were at the conference with their husbands. Even though I wasn’t quite the intended audience, I was learned, grew, and was encouraged by every message that was delivered. If you, like me, are not a pastor and are concerend that you would be out of place attending a pastors conference, I want to assure you that this is not the case with Together for the Gospel! I’m sure that the deeper theological information probably went right over my head, but much of the content that was shared can be applied to personal spiritual life and ministry of any capactiy. Don’t let those concerns get in the way of attending! The next conference is April 11-13, 2018. It is a sweet, sweet week, and your heart will be so encouraged by being able to spend three days in the Word, surrounded by brothers and sisters who have gathered together for a common purpose: the Gospel. I would definitely recommend that you should at least consider coming.
If you have any questions about the conference or would like to hear more about a certain aspect of it, feel free to contact me! My contact information is located on my about page.