In 2003, I believe the Lord gave me two great ideas (and I am so glad I listened!).
One of them was to start this very magazine. Which about 100 issues later, I have seen God’s faithfulness over and over again.
The second idea was to look at starting a training conference where I could gather some of the columnists and writers from [WM] and blend their #BetterBySunday approach (back then a hashtag was just still the pound key) with gifted worship leaders and Christian musicians for a time of learning and inspiration.
I didn’t have to look far as in the next town over Matt Kees was serving as a long-time worship leader at his church, where he had started the Puget Sound Worship Leader Network. This group of local worship leaders from different churches and denominations would gather to discuss their various issues as well as share songs. Matt had actually done a regional conference at his church already called “Worship More…” that I came alongside and offered some help by getting a few sponsors.
We hit it off instantly and began to plan the first Christian Musician Summit conference in Tacoma, WA. Oddly enough, Washington state is the number one un-churched state in the country and our neighbor state to the south, Oregon, is the number two un-churched state. We didn’t let that stop us!
Now, after 34 conferences, 16 years, 5 states, and 10’s of thousands of musicians reached, we are looking forward to hosting our flagship CMS conference back in Tacoma, WA on November 2 and 3.
I believe one of the reasons I was born was to produce “live” events. I have had the honor of promoting over 100 Christian concerts over the years too, but for the last 10 years or so I have focused on CMS. Why? There is something really special about training and equipping lead worshippers in the Church, as well as having top drawer clinicians and artists teach workshops for vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys, tech, songwriting, evangelism and teams. When we all strive for excellence, it honors and gives glory to God. Our mission statement is to improve skill and inspire talent for God’s glory.
Each and every year at the CMS conference, the Lord shows up in new and memorable ways, and this has always created a really unique and fun atmosphere. There is a joy from hanging out and learning together!
I am the Producer of the CMS, and Matt is the Director. I asked Matt what he thought about the CMS looking back over the last 16 years and 34 conferences, “It’s humbling. When I see how God has worked and continues to work in amazing ways within the small churches with teams that scrape by week to week, it encourages me, and makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. You and I have heard countless stories from worship leaders who were ready to throw in the towel and quit, but after attending the conference and receiving an encouraging word from God through one of our artists, keynote speakers or clinicians, they decided to stick it out, using the new tools they acquired from the conference. Then they return to their congregations with new life and excitement, which improves the worship life of that community. The ripple effect is awesome… we have no idea how many people have been impacted, and that’s pretty cool.”
We both encourage you to come and be a part of it!