Johnny Hunt has a claim to fame that’s rare in the faith-based events industry. He has been facilitating the same event for nearly 30 years.
His 27th men’s conference was held Jan. 25 and 26 at Woodstock First Baptist Church (Georgia), where he has pastored for 34 years.
The event has evolved over the decades and is now available in three formats. An average of 5,000 men attend the live gathering in Woodstock; nearly 15,000 participate online via live simulcast; and thousands more participate at a later date using a digital pass.
Lifeway partners with Hunt’s team to produce the simulcast and the digital pass, which is available a month after the live event. The pass includes downloads of all conference content.
Over the years, the planning team has learned that more practical content yields better reception and higher participation. The theme for the 2019 conference was “Game Plan: Beating Man’s Worst Enemy—Himself.”
Event producer Chris Lee describes it as “solutions-focused.” “Guys aren’t looking for a pep rally or big show,” Lee says. “They are getting plenty of hype elsewhere in the world. They want to be prepared and equipped to be godly men, and we want to give them tools.”
Continues Lee: “It’s easy to talk about how we need to live, but it’s another thing to say, ‘Here’s what we are going to do about it.’ You don’t become a godly man by accident—it takes work. We want to give participants a framework so they can make their own plan.”
Lee says the team has also discovered what format works best for the group. The conference begins Friday night and finishes by Saturday at noon to ensure attendees have time at home before the workweek resumes.
Three main sessions and two breakout opportunities fit within the conference agenda. Some subjects—such as marriage, protecting family and pornography addiction—are discussed each year, but Lee says the team is constantly evaluating new topics to include.
“We always ask ourselves, ‘How will this content help the average man sitting in a church pew?’” he says.
They want to cover what’s most relevant. They have added a breakout session directed at students as their audience has grown younger. The event also includes a session for dads and their teenage sons to attend together.
Those who purchase the digital pass have the option of selecting which breakout sessions to show and how they want to structure their presentation. Lee says however the show is consumed, Hunt’s goal is to get the content in as many hands as possible.
“This is an opportunity for men to get together and talk in a safe environment,” Lee says. “We want to share practical, applicable content.”