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The Vision for a New Kind of Conference (2021)

In just three weeks, the seventh annual Church & Culture Conference will take place via livestream from Mecklenburg Community Church (Meck) in Charlotte, NC.

If you have not attended before, you may be wondering what the vision is for this event.

Heaven knows the Christian world doesn’t need another conference that is just like every other conference. You know the drill: the same eight or 10 speakers currently hot on the circuit, the same talks that are not-so-thinly veiled book promotions, the same “pep rally” atmosphere. Yes, they serve a purpose, but we have them in ready supply.

In its earlier years, Meck offered what we called the “New Work Conference.” It was for church planters and we served countless numbers. We stopped after a while because we had grown distant from our own church planting days and the church planting world was changing rapidly. There were simply churches better positioned for that role.

But it was rich while it lasted. Why? Because it really did fill a niche. So we waited until another very clear niche presented itself.

It did.

There are conferences that bring the latest insights into leadership, but where is the conference that brings the latest insights into culture?

And not just cultural insight, but practical applications for the local church in light of those insights? If our mission is the evangelization and transformation of culture through the centrality of the local church, then two things must follow: we must understand the times and then we must know what to do.

We must understand our culture and how best to respond to it,

… penetrate it,

… reach it,

… and transform it.

And we must understand how to do that through the local church. It is not that other means do not exist for the mission, but Jesus created and charged the Church to be in the vanguard.

So the vision for the annual Church & Culture Conference is simple: to bring the latest, best insights about culture to the surface and then, to explore how to practically respond as a church being mindful of those insights.

This year is no different.

We’ll be bringing entirely fresh content and new challenges anchored by the living laboratory of Meck that experiences more than 70% of its growth from the previously unchurched.

We’re offering the event via livestream, with the option to watch on demand for two additional weeks. So whether you’re joining from another time zone in the U.S. or from another country around the world, there is no need to worry—you can access the content whenever your schedule allows.

So what’s on the docket for the 2021 Conference?


Raising our children to have an unshakeable faith seems more challenging than ever in light of today’s culture. It is vital for the Church to come alongside parents to employ strategies to guard against their child’s faith being deconstructed by culture and the pressures that they face.


Let’s be clear. The "T" in all things LGBTQ has gone front and center on the cultural stage. Most Christians have been caught flat-footed on how to think, act and react. Further, while most think this is the end of the slippery slope, it’s not – it’s only the beginning. Wrapping our minds around the current gender discussion may prove to be one of the most important efforts of our day.


The pandemic did three things: It sped up change that was already in process, it introduced change we did not foresee, and it created expectations that did not exist before. Together, these dynamics have created a new set of realities for the post-COVID Church that must be known by church leaders.


There is a significant difference between offering “things” online and hosting an actual online campus. Meck is known for ending its multisite strategy. But in truth, we are still multisite, with one site being physical and one site being online. What is an online "campus?" What makes it different from Facebook Live or on-demand streaming? What does it take in terms of staff, content, filming, marketing and more? If the front door of the church is online, how strategic is an actual online campus to future growth? What does it offer in terms of engagement and assimilation that other online offerings don’t? A panel discussion involving the principal people involved in Meck’s Online Campus will help with answers.

Sound interesting and practical? That’s our hope.

Along with the hope that you will join us.

James Emery White


About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.


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