re:create 2011 in Review: From a Christian Conference Skeptic

My new friend Jeff Goins is guest-posting on my blog today. Jeff was a part of re:create this week, helping manage our social media channels and providing the daily “white paper” we sent out via email. He blogs at where you can find more of his writing. Here’s what Jeff had to say about his first time at re:create. Maybe some of you can relate:

I never expected this.

When I hear “worship and arts conference,” all kinds of angst and skepticism rises up in me. For some reason, I think of college. Of chord charts in the key of G. Of the “Four Spiritual Laws” and religious platitudes. Of plastic Christian smiles and fake, churchy attitudes.

That’s not fair, but that’s what I think of when the word “Christian” gets tagged on to the word “conference.” I think of subculture and low expectations of quality. I think of T-shirts and bumper stickers with phrases I’d rather not repeat. I think of the line between faith and consumerism that has recently been blurred in America.

So you can imagine my mixed feelings in anticipation of attending re:create 2011. Part of me thought it could be something really special (knowing Randy’s creative bent). But part of me was concerned that it would be just another Christian conference.

I was wrong. Dead wrong. (I cannot place enough emphasize on the “dead” part.)

Even the part of me that was hoping for a positive experience didn’t come close to expecting what I experienced at re:create this week.

I expected practical worship leading tips and a few technology ideas that I probably already knew. I expected some genuine spiritual moments, but nothing groundbreaking or earth-shattering. (You know, warm, fuzzy feelings for Jesus, but nothing revolutionary.) I expected, well, a Christian conference.

Despite the claims of re:create being “different”, I was doubtful. I expected the usual fanfare: exhibitor booths, overpriced food, long-winded speakers, and minimal, superficial interaction with other attendees.

Again, that’s not fair to the hundreds of Christian conferences that probably do much more than that each year, but I just haven’t experienced any of those. In my admittedly limited experience, I’ve only seen two types of faith-based conferences: big and loud or small and bad.

So believe when I tell you that I never expected this: an entire week of true refreshment, challenge, and inspiration. I never expected to be amazed at the high-quality programming and, at the same time, organic structure of re:create 2011. As I’ve been recounting the experience to friends, I’ve been using the word “orchestrate” a lot. And that’s what it felt like — an orchestra. A beautiful, well-organized symphony in tune and on key with the leading of God’s spirit.

From listening to Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy compare leadership to a slinky to experiencing a “charismatic” liturgical worship service, re:create blew me away. From the humor and wisdom of Patsy Clairmont’s storytelling to the magic and wonder of Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God”, it’s impossible to capture the experience with mere words. (“Amazing” and “incredible” and “transcendent” come to mind as attempts.)

Combined with good food, great music, and genuine community, this week was unforgettable. The experiences were so eclectic and yet so beautifully woven together that they cured me of my cynicism towards the idea of a Christian conference done well. In fact, the word “conference” doesn’t even do re:create justice. It is what it claims to be: a gathering. A community. A tribe. And one that I am now proud to be a part of.

Thank you, Randy and Chris, for making the seemingly unrealistic vision of an intimate conference done with a high level of excellence and spontaneity a reality.

By randy

Encouraging people to find out who they are so they can live their lives fully.

38 replies on “re:create 2011 in Review: From a Christian Conference Skeptic”

Thanks, Jeff. That was a great re-cap. This was my fourth time to attend Re:create. I think it was the best ever. Randy and Chris took it to a whole new level. I only wish I had pressured more people in my company to attend!

@Michael Hyatt, Thanks, Mike. It blew my expectations right out of the water. I would recommend it to anyone who considers himself a creative or works with creatives in any capacity. I really enjoyed your talk on creativity and criticism. It was quite apropos.

Great recap Jeff! As we journey toward home I find myself longing for the next opportunity to rub elbows and share moments with some of the most genuine, creative people on the planet. This is my 3rd year out of the last 4 and it just gets better every time. This year seemed to allow for even more opportunities to connect with others. Or at least I took advantage of those opportunities more – sort of a big deal for an introvert like me.

Can’t wait for 2012!

Thanks for this re-cap. It was a great week at Recreate 11, a week where I was able to refresh, refuel and renew. Through the experience that Chris and Randy produced I am ready to return to my office with new energy.

I must agree, Jeff! Randy – it was a wonderful week…better even than I expected! It will take me weeks to process it all. Hope to see you again in a few months…I’ll be in touch. Thanks for being awesome.

As I would have imagined, Jeff summed re:create up better than most could. What a joy to be in the presence of so many people flowing in their gifts. Can we do it again tomorrow?

I must concur. It’s the reason I pay money out of my own pocket to get there … when the “conference budget” isn’t enough … I dig into my own pocket. It’s that worth it. I think I already have 2 more people “referred” for next year!

you hit that out of the park Jeff. i invited two friends this year and they were completely blown away. i’m so glad that i got to share it with them. last year was my first year and i was amazed at the level of beauty that we got to experience. i thought, how could Randy and Chris top this. they did. so thankful i get to go. just pre-registered for next year and will, like Fred pay out of my pocket if the conference budget isn’t enough.

PS, thanks for using my pic of Ed. i love that shot.


You may not have intended this reaction, but this review actually challenges me to go deeper in my realtionship with the Lord. I didn’t even know this conference existed, but I definitely would have been sitting right next to you on the skepticism train. I find myself being skeptical about a lot of things lately, spiritual and otherwise. Sometimes I guise it with saying it’s just “realsim”, but I and the Lord know better. Again, thanks.

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