A Review of the 2023 G3 National Conference: Behind a Frowning Providence God Hides a Smiling Face

Josh Buice


Over the course of the last week, we’ve seen many different reviews of the 2023 G3 National Conference by attendees. I’d like to share one with you, from a leadership and insider’s perspective. We gathered together with 8,300 people in Atlanta under the theme of “The Sovereignty of God” but we reached far higher goals than breaking attendance records.

In January of 2020, I stood on the platform at the G3 National Conference and made the announcement that we would be making some big transitions with G3 moving forward. We announced G3 Ministries, a ministry that would be more than a conference and would focus on producing content for the strengthening local churches around the world. We likewise made the announcement of a date change that would move our national conference to the fall of the year away from the month of January on a biennial rotation with regional conferences in the off-year.

That decision was blessed by our Lord. A few weeks after that announcement, COVID-19 became a real challenge that caused many conferences to cancel their events and make massive adjustments. By the grace of God, we never cancelled a conference due to the fact that we had already announced a change of dates and pattern for ministry that prevented such fallout. Since then, we have watched the Lord continue to bless G3 Ministries for his glory. The 2023 G3 National Conference is indicative of such blessing, and I’d like to share a review of the conference from an insider’s perspective.

The Aim of G3 Ministries

The main goal of G3 Ministries is not about an event or a personality. It’s about encouraging and strengthening local churches around the world with sound biblical theology for the glory of God. As the President of G3 Ministries, I have the privilege to watch our staff arrive in the office in the early hours of the morning, gather for ministry meetings, and work diligently with the main goal of helping local churches achieve goals and to see local churches strengthened through the resources produced by our team and through the fellowship of our G3 Church Network. It’s a true joy to serve alongside this very gifted team.

The main goal of G3 Ministries is not about an event or a personality. It’s about encouraging and strengthening local churches around the world with sound biblical theology for the glory of God.

As we gather for each conference, it serves as a family reunion as we gather to be encouraged and shaped by God’s Word and to be an encouragement to one another in gospel ministry. In short, the 2023 G3 National Conference served that purpose from the opening sessions of the pre-conference to the closing AMEN.

The Worship

When it comes to a conference, it provides a unique setting that’s different than a local church. While we should aim to model a proper worship methodology, we do have interruptions, announcements, presentations, sponsorships, and all sorts of other items that go alongside a conference schedule that is different than the worship in the context of a local church on the Lord’s Day.

Needless to say, when you gather with more than 8,000 people under the preaching of the gospel, it’s both encouraging and weighty. Participating in the singing of the gospel of Jesus Christ with a multitude of voices gathered from all around the world is overwhelming at times! What a joy! We will be releasing something special on the G3 app soon regarding the singing of the conference, just keep an eye out for it!

This year, we were led by Matt Sikes who serves as the Pastor of Worship and Discipleship at Pray’s Mill Baptist Church where I serve as pastor. We had the privilege to have an array of gifted musicians who accompanied us in worship including Joy Craft on the piano, Katelyn Foto Berry and Gaylyn Foto, Caleb Aniol (Scott Aniol’s son) and a number of musicians from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Leading up to the G3 National Conference, Matt and I planned every session including every song that would precede and follow each sermon based on the text and topic of the preacher. The goal was to plan with intentionality based on the text of Scripture in order to help reinforce and establish the truth of God’s Word in the hearts of the attendees. Below is a list of every song from the recent 2023 G3 National Conference. You can also find them in the conference guide hymnal linked in the G3 app (download from the app store).

Thursday, September 21:

  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Give Praise to God
  • Behold Our God
  • God Moves In a Mysterious Way
  • Complete In Thee
  • He Will Hold Me Fast
  • I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow
  • Amazing Grace
  • What Wondrous Love Is This
  • Great God
  • A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
  • All Hail the Power of Jesus Name
  • Crown Him With Many Crowns

Friday, September 22:

  • All People that On Earth Do Dwell (Psalm 100)
  • O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer
  • And Can It Be?
  • How Sad Our State By Nature Is
  • Man of Sorrows, What a Name
  • Our God, Our Help in Ages Past (Psalm 90)
  • Praise to the Lord the Almighty
  • Thy Works, Not Mine
  • Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  • I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
  • O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Saturday, September 23:

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God
  • All Creatures of Our God and King
  • This Is My Father’s World
  • The Solid Rock
  • In Christ Alone
  • The Power of the Cross
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

The Fellowship

One of the main benefits of gathering together for the G3 National Conference (or any event, like a regional conference or workshop) is the fellowship. This year was amazing. Friends from all around the world reconnecting, talking, laughing, breaking bread together, and enjoying the company of like-minded believers was refreshing. It’s almost like a foretaste of eternity future.

Each year we receive emails with stories about how God arranged it so that they could meet their spouse at the G3 conference. God orders these divine appointments and affords us delightful fellowship at the conference each year!

The Christian life is tough and life often presents twists and turns that make the journey difficult. This is why Christian fellowship is essential within the local church and Christian conferences can provide additional and supplemental opportunities as well.

I was personally thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time and some that I haven’t connected with in-person since the last G3 National Conference. The richness of Christian fellowship cannot be achieved through a livestream. The Christian life is tough and life often presents twists and turns that make the journey difficult. This is why Christian fellowship is essential within the local church and Christian conferences can provide additional and supplemental opportunities as well.

Ministry Networking and Resources

The labor that our team put into the buildout and design of the conference center for the 2023 G3 National Conference spans over the course of two years. The entire facility was mapped out and organized for the purpose of efficiency and intentionality in serving the attendees. This entire process is led by our Executive Director of Operations—Virgil Walker. The bookstore provides free resources and greatly discounted books and commentaries from an array of publishers (12 different Christian publishers). The bookstore was designed with the goal of helping fellow Christians build their theological libraries for the purpose of personal sanctification and Christian education. This process was organized by Laramie Minga, who serves as our Managing Editor and Director of Media.

The exhibit hall was designed in a way to maximize time and efficiency of the attendee in the space. One entire row was designed for podcasters and those who would be doing live shows. We had another row dedicated to Christian education. As people made their way through the exhibit hall, they were able to make connections that could prove beneficial and helpful in the life of their local church for discipleship, missions, and other ministry needs. We hear stories every year about how churches were strengthened by ministry partners they discovered in our exhibit hall.

Challenges and Blessings

Some of the unique challenges we experienced were simply related to the space of the venue itself. This conference stretched the capacity of the Georgia International Convention Center. The breakout sessions were standing (and sitting room) only with people gathered in the hallway to listen. We will be publishing these sessions on the G3 app in the days to come, so look for those to drop soon.

As I watched hundreds of volunteers led by our executive leadership team work throughout the conference with efficiency and according to our plan, it was a true joy. As our evening came to a close on Friday, I was gathered together with a group of ministry partners and our speakers for a meal. We had live music on the cello in the room, great food, laughter filled the air when  one of our security team members entered the room and told me that he had to immediately clear the room and the entire conference center. At that moment, another security team member entered and informed me that we don’t have time to discuss it—it’s an immediate threat.

I took a microphone and announced to the room that we had to immediately depart the facility by following the security team due to an immediate threat. Once we exited, I gathered everyone on the sidewalk and informed them that it was a bomb threat. We then prayed and made our way as a group to the lobby of the Marriott where hundreds of conference attendees were gathered. As we stood there processing the moment, Mike Riccardi said, “I think we need to sing.” I said, “You’re right.” I stood on a piece of furniture to get everyone’s attention and directed everyone to Scott Aniol who led us in three hymns.

It was one of those moments that you will never forget. Hundreds of Christians in a Marriott in Atlanta singing praises to our God. The bar stopped serving and every other guest in the lobby or surrounding area paused to take it all in. All praise to our sovereign God who rules over heaven and earth.

When the bomb threat caused us to exit the building resulting in immediate confusion and chaos, my heart was filled with all sorts of emotions. As we worked to get everyone in our group out and to the Marriott, I was complaining about the unfolding of the events in my heart. Yet, just the day before I had quoted William Cowper in my sermon:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

It was at that moment of singing praises to the Lord in the Marriott that I realized that there is something special about the Christian community that binds us together in his love in a unique way. The response to the drama filled evening resulted in singing praises to God. Certainly a smiling face was hidden behind this frowning providence.

Our team worked through the night with eight different law enforcement agencies to clear the building. We got word that after robotics and other technology was used, in the early hours of the morning, we were granted access to the building. Our executive team and security team was sitting in their conference room at the conference center for a security briefing at 6:00am. Within 30-minutes, we had developed a plan which was well executed in order to open the conference center and welcome the G3 attendees.

Within the next two hours, the entire facility filled once again in preparation for the singing and preaching of the gospel. What seemed like a far-reaching goal to reopen on Saturday morning was ordained by our God in such a way that minimal changes had to be made. The evening before people were rushing out of a conference center under a fearful threat and the next morning we were all gathered together again to celebrate the gospel of King Jesus and the sovereignty of our great God.

The 2023 G3 National Conference was by far the best conference in the history of G3. I was greatly encouraged and edified. I was challenged and left trusting in our God. My faith was strengthened and spirt uplifted. The fellowship was wonderful and the worship a delight to my soul. Just when I couldn’t think it would get any better, this dear sister in Christ replied to a post I made on X with the following statement:

My 3sisters &I came from different states 2 attend G3 for the 1st time. We are making plans 2 attend the next one as soon as information is posted. Thank you! It was life changing for 1 of my sisters who was unregenerate. Her blind eyes R now open, God has given her a new heart

It doesn’t get much better than that! What a unique privilege it was to gather together this year. I’m grateful for our team including Scott Aniol, our Vice President and Editor-in-chief who worked diligently and served faithfully alongside Virgil Walker who led the staff and volunteers at the conference. I’m extremely thankful for our local church and all of the many volunteers who served faithfully.

As always, we leave with renewed strength and commitment to go back into the context of our local churches and labor faithfully for God’s glory Look for the sessions, singing, and G3 live show to appear in the G3 app soon.

I hope you can join us next time.

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Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.