Church Disrupt 2021: Church Leadership Conference Highlights

Pushpay promised that Church Disrupt 2021 would be an unforgettable online church leadership conference experience. Thanks to our speakers and sponsors, musical guests, and, most importantly, you, we delivered.

It was clear from the pre-event survey we sent out that the pandemic and its impact on the future of the Church is still top of mind, as well as the age-old questions every Church continues to face as you go about the important business of doing God’s work. You asked for expert guidance on the best first steps for digital attendee outreach, creative ways to solve ministry challenges, and creating plans and strategies for driving attendance in person and online. We listened, and, quite honestly, our hearts filled with joy. Because these are the questions Pushpay, pastors, and church staff know how to answer. And we did just that–while having some fun, too.

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May 12th brought together thousands of like-minded people from across the planet, all gathered together to be inspired, grow their skills, and discover new ways to connect and make their mark in 2021 and beyond. Here are some highlights from our stellar keynote speakers during the church leadership conference.

DawnCheré Wilkerson: The Discipline of Celebration

DawnCheré Wilkerson, the Lead Pastor at Vous Church, opened the church leadership conference with a message urging us to celebrate, despite the hardships we’ve faced over the last year. And in case you’re wondering, yes, she knows how hard this call to action is. But according to Wilkerson, celebrating is especially important during times of trial. “It’s in moments when you’re in the crossroads; it’s in moments when you’re in crisis, it’s moments of confusion, that friend, you need celebration the very most.”

You have a choice when it comes to how you think, how you feel, and how you respond to what life throws at you. But you also have assurance from God. In Psalms 118, the Bible says, “Give thanks to the Lord. He is good. His love endures forever.” If His love does indeed endure forever, what’s not to celebrate? As Wilkerson says,

Whatever the needs are in your life, you can trust these hands, you can trust these nail-scarred hands that empathize with everything that you feel, everything that you face. He wants to satisfy the desires of your life.

Even better, the discipline of celebration builds community, culture, and aspects of your personhood, including strength, values, and interpersonal relationships. It even builds upon itself, as Wilkerson underscores, “And the beautiful thing about celebration is that, as you choose to celebrate your joy, it multiplies, and it spreads like a tidal wave to those that around you.”

To view the full address, along with all the other fantastic content from the conference, go to

Travis Greene: Heed the Call

According to Travis Greene, Lead Pastor at Forward City Church, a mission field exists right under our noses that has yet to be addressed: Culture. “Culture is undeniable. It’s unavoidable. It is the rhythm of a generation.” The question, Greene believes, is how do we remain effective in an ever-changing culture? We can complain or conform, but neither is doing God’s work. So to Greene’s way of thinking, the only real option is to “Confront culture. We are called to be the answer.”

But what exactly does that mean? It means you must engage with culture, and there are three steps to doing so. First, get close.

``This is the power and the principle of proximity. To be in it, but not of it.``
Travis Greene

Just as Jesus did, we must put ourselves in positions to reach the most disadvantaged of people. This doesn’t mean we compromise our values, but rather the opposite. We lift others to be where we are, connected to God and serving His purpose.

Step two is engaging with culture. This means going beyond your friend group and reaching out to those who truly need God’s love. Doing so will most likely be uncomfortable, but it’s imperative to our purpose. Greene notes it’s important to remember that “We have to be willing to see through costumes. I really believe that issues are really costumes. We can’t identify somebody by an issue. It’s just a costume.” Ignore the issues and focus on the heart and soul of the individual.

And the last step is to get invited. And you do this by having influence. Note, Greene doesn’t mean “influence” in the modern sense. He’s not suggesting you wrack up your Instagram followers or build a brand. He’s calling you to create your influence by either being the first or the best. “Master the gift that God’s given you,” and the influence will come. And then you’ll have a seat at the table. “Change happens when you are heard.”

To view the full address, along with all the other amazing content from the church leadership conference, go to

Tim Timberlake: What Will Innovation Cost You?

“The cost of innovation is oftentimes disruption,” believes Tim Timberlake, Lead Pastor at Celebration Church. And disruption can be messy, as we saw in 2020 and continue to experience in 2021. But the experience of disruption – often difficult, never easy – is often what brings about some of our greatest innovations.

Moving forward, we should anticipate that life will not be the same, look the same, or operate in the same way–including our churches. Timberlake urges church leaders to learn from this disruption for the benefit of current congregations and those to come. It will not be an easy road to walk. But it’s necessary to glean all we can from this season that has taken so much and given so little.

Timberlake asserts that disruption creates opportunities.

“It’s in the painful moments of our life; it’s in the disruptions of our life, I like to call them the divine disruptions of our life, that we get resilience.”

He also sees maturity as a fruit of this nearly barren harvest–a maturity that allows us to grow stronger in the ways of God. He doesn’t want us to waste what we’ve gone through, for he’s a “firm believer that no pain should enter into your life without it propelling you into the next season that God is pushing you into.”

He urges you to think about what it is that God wants you to learn from this disruption–and how you can innovate on his behalf moving forward. “There’s something that God has placed in you that only you can do. And I just want to encourage you to not wait on other people to create what God has created you to do.”

The “most dangerous trap” Timberlake sees before us is not prioritizing innovating at this time. This is the time for the world to see us and understand what God has to offer. “Let’s be the sons and daughters that are on the front line, pushing the kingdom of God forward, even in pain and disruption.”

To view the full address, along with all the other amazing content from the conference, go to

Andy Stanley: A New Approach to Faith

North Point Community Church Senior Pastor Andy Stanley closed out Church Disrupt 2021 with a provocative topic: The internet uncovered an error in our approach to faith, and now is the time to fix it. “Somebody’s got to do something about this, but doing something about this would require talking about the Bible and our faith in a new way.” Before the digital age, it was much harder to poke holes in the Bible, and the teachings found within. And many Christians of all stripes assume the Bible is the foundation of Christianity. So it follows, if it’s easier to question the Bible, it’s easier to question the very foundation of our faith.

Stanley firmly believes “defending the Bible is the wrong place to dig our trenches and mount our defenses.” Why? Because the foundation of Christianity is not the Bible. Our foundation is Jesus Christ.

“Christianity doesn’t rise and fall on a book. It rises and falls on the person of Jesus. The question that we want this generation and every generation to wrestle to the ground is not, is the Bible true? We want people to wrestle with the question, who is Jesus?”
Andy Stanley

And how do we learn about Jesus and come to believe in him and accept him as our Savior? Is it the simple act of opening a book and comprehending information? No, Stanley asserts. It’s the powerful accounts of eye-witnesses that turn a skeptic into a believer. “Do you know why we believe he died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead? Because Matthew told us so, and Mark, who got his story from Peter, told us so, and Luke, who says, I thoroughly investigated everything, I’ve talked to everybody…And here’s what happened, told us so, and Peter, who was an eye-witness, told us so, and James.” The value to be found in the Gospels is due to their being considered reliable and valuable accounts as far back as the 4th Century.

Stanley wraps up his talk by stating that “our mission is very simple. It is to inspire people to follow Jesus.” And this is the very thing he asks Church leaders to do for the sake of future generations. “What is the faith of your children, your grandchildren, your kids next door, or the kids in your student ministry? What is that worth?”

Watch the Church Leadership Conference On-Demand

To view the full address, along with all the other amazing content from the conference, go to


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