Getting Ready To Sing!

Our Interview With Keith Getty

As Keith and Kristyn Getty prepare for their Sing! 2019 Conference in Nashville, TN, August 19-21, they’re already sensing the excitement and also the responsibility of a mighty move of God in their midst.

This is the third year of their conference—the 2nd year doubled in attendance from the first year, and early indications point to doubling again this year. We talked with Keith, the co-writer of “In Christ Alone” with Stuart Townend (who will also be at Sing! 2019), about all the preparations and expectations.   

Keith, as “Sing! 2019” approaches and as you make final preparations, what is stirring in your heart? 

KG: There are so many things! I think for me it’s the people – it’s bringing together worship leaders and people who are so passionate with how the church sings alongside teaching pastors and theologians and some of the finest musicians and creative artists I’ve ever met. It is truly an intersection of theology, artistry and worship. 

This is the 3rd year of your Sing! conference. It doubled in size from the 1st to the 2nd year, and it sounds like you’re expecting it to double again. Your thoughts? 

 KG: I honestly don’t think a lot about the number of people who are there. It has been so encouraging to see the interest in what is happening, but at the same time all the more challenging to ensure what we are doing is making an impact and changing the church around the country and around the world.  I stay focused on the message which is helping churches sing better, sing deeper, and sing more beautifully. I am particularly excited about this year’s theme – The Life of Christ – a topic which Stuart Townend and I have spent almost 20 years writing hymns about. Much like our song, “In Christ Alone,” the flow of the conference will follow the story of Christ.  The first day looks at the Incarnation of Christ and Christmas story. The second day is all about the suffer and death of Christ during the day with a massive celebration of the resurrection in the evening at the Bridgestone arena where John Piper will preach on the power of the resurrection.  On Wednesday, we’ll look at the Great Commission and singing in light of eternity. While the primary resources are songs that sing of the beautiful and eternal Gospel of Jesus, there are so many practical resources that churches can take away this year that will really help. 

Talk about your 5 goals for the project. 

KG: The five urgent goals of this year’s conference are to: 

  • Refocus us on how the Gospel of Christ shapes our worship 
  • Point us to singing in light of God’s Eternal Kingdom 
  • Understand how the Great Commission empowers our worship ministry  
  • Reinvigorate singing and worship during the Advent season 
  • Strengthen singing and worship during the Easter season 

This is all part of the initial five-year plan to give people a deeper understanding of why we sing. Year one, in honor of the Reformation, looked at why we sing and what happens when we sing – as individuals, families, churches and communities. Year two we focused on the Psalms, the songbook of the Bible. Year three is looking at The Life of Christ and singing the Gospel, especially the areas of Incarnation, death, resurrection, the Great Commission, and the second coming of our Lord. Year four will take us on a journey through the songs of scripture, while year five looks at singing through the ages through some of the best hymns, songs, liturgies and prayers that we are privileged to have from church history. 

Can you talk specifically about how you hope to accomplish these goals through the main sessions, the breakout sessions and the concert events? 

KG: The whole conference is about encouraging and deepening worship in churches and families. To that end,  singing and giving people an inspiring sung worship experience and as you say it breaks down in three different ways.  

In the main sessions the singing prepares and responds to talks with Professor John Lennox, D.A Carson, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, John Piper, and Joni Eareckson Tada.  

In the breakouts we aim to create practical resources which range from practical seminars on music and production, to musical virtuosos and artists performing and giving away resources, to theologians leading sessions and panels where key issues are discussed.  

Thirdly, the concerts are really special! On Monday night, August 19, we will be performing a newly televised version of our Sing! An Irish Christmas Concert at the Grand Ole Opry House. In addition, that night we are also doing a full sing-through of Handel’s Messiah for those who are classically inclined.  On the Tuesday night of the conference (August 20), we go to Bridgestone Arena and fill the room with singing about the explosive resurrection power with Joni Eareckson Tada, Trip Lee,  and Shane and Shane to name a few.  

Throughout the entire conference, we’ll get to experience music and talks from artists and worship leaders such as Shane and Shane, Andrew Peterson, Bob Kauflin, Ellie Holcomb, Travis Cottrell, Sandra McCracken, Matt Papa, Stuart Townend, Matt Boswell, Trip Lee, Fernando Ortega, Jordan Kauflin, and several others.   

Looks like you have a number of close friends and ministry partners joining you again at the conference. Talk about the impact they’ve made in your life.  

KG: Each one is different, but John Lennox is Kristyn’s uncle and introduced her to me. He was a friend of CS Lewis and is famous among other things for debating with Richard Dawkins about the Christian faith. DA Carson and Mark Dever both inspired me deeply as a student and have become good friends. They founded The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel. John MacArthur got behind our hymns from the very beginning and has championed our work as well as guided us. John Piper is another inspirational thinker who we are privileged to have sharing the stage with us at a number of arena events including our first regional event in Belfast next month. He will also be doing the Bridgestone event which will be a very momentous, special occasion. Finally Joni Eareckson Tada has been an inspiration to both Kristyn and I as well as millions and we are so excited she’s coming back to the conference despite all she’s been through. It’s truly a remarkable story. She is closing the conference this year with an a capella hymn-sing which will be a moment I think no one will forget. 

Any special songs that you will introduce this year? 

KG: This year we are releasing more new songs than ever before! At the conference, we will release a collection of modern hymns from two of our songwriters – Matt Papa & Matt Boswell – entitled “His Mercy Is More.” Then, on October 1st we’re coming out with a boxed quintology set of songs (nearly 36!) recorded live at Sing!, which will follow the five main themes of the conference (Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, Great Commission). Our hope is that more and more churches will think deeply about how the Gospel shapes their worship services, and hopefully this new collection of modern hymns and songs will be an encouragement as they seek to implement this. We are very excited both to be sharing a lot of the hymns we’ve written over the years along with new songs and classic hymns we really want to re-energize the church with. 

Any final thoughts leading up to Sing! 2019? 

KG: We’d encourage anyone who is interested in what we are doing to pray for the conference and to connect with it. This year is a wonderful opportunity to bring your whole worship team and think through not just the songs you sing, but practically how to do Easter, Christmas, and how to do outreach and mission in the church as over 50% of time each year is spent preparing in these areas. We feel this year’s conference is useful in explaining and sharing the Gospel and encouraging as we hope to energize musical directors in their work of the church. At this year’s conference, we want every person — including pastors, worship leaders, choir directors, and musicians — to walk away from the event feeling inspired and encouraged to boldly proclaim the Gospel with a renewed sense of how Christ’s life, death, and resurrection radically transforms worship in families and churches. 

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Join Keith & Kristyn Getty along with 50 other speakers and artists from many traditions and walks of life for the Getty Music Worship Conference: Sing! The Life of Christ August 19 – 21 in Nashville, TN. 

Register today at www.gettymusicworshipconference.com. Use code WFSING19 to save 10% on your registration