Over six thousand Christian ministry and media representatives have flooded the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., to participate in the world's largest gathering of Christian broadcasters.
For four days, top faith media professionals and Christian leaders will be on the lookout for new tools, services, and relationships to expand their ministries while joining in educational sessions, a special Tech Lab, and general sessions featuring internationally known speakers and artists.
Every year, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention & Exposition draws a wide range of participants – from A-list Hollywood producers and award-winning talk show hosts to overseas broadcasters and small-town pastors.
Last year, there were over 6,000 attendees.
"It's the embodiment of the body of Christ that we see at the convention," says David Keith, NRB's vice president of operations, in a promotional video for the association of over 1,400 organizations.
"It's a time for encouragement. It's a time for challenges. And, all around, when most people come they just have a lot of fun," he adds.
The highlight of the annual convention is its exclusive Exposition, the largest marketplace dedicated to Christian media professionals seeking to harness the power of media to spread the Gospel. Over 300 companies and ministries will showcase their wares on 135,000 square feet of exhibit space, including equipment providers, non-profits, educational institutions, publishers, and broadcasting ministries.
Also present are secular companies such as Adobe Systems, Sony Electronics, and Canon U.S.A., whose products Christian groups have increasingly come to utilize to more effectively reach today's world.
"Here in North America, we've climbed this incredibly steep learning curve to get where we are today. And in many respects there are a lot Christian broadcasters around the world that are still climbing up that very steep learning curve," says NRB president and CEO Dr. Frank Wright. "One of our goals is to help them shorten that."
As in previous years, the NRB convention this year will offer more than a hundred educational sessions led by professionals at the top of their field, which take place simultaneously with the exhibit and guide attendees on topics such as raising funds, marketing, copyright laws, and transforming church worship with technology.
General session speakers this year include respected preachers Anne Graham Lotz, Charles Stanley and John McArthur; media experts Phil Cooke and Dan Merchant; and Christian film director Alex Kendrick, whose faith-based film "Fireproof" grossed over $33 million in the United States.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of attending the convention is the chance to meet with and speak directly to top management in Christian communications. The convention is touted as a "must attend" on the broadcast industry's calendar and is the largest internationally recognized event of its kind.
"We come together for a lot of reasons, but we've stayed together these sixty-plus years as an organization because we're men and women of vision," says Wright. "We see that maybe for the first time, because of the technology available to us today, we can say, 'This may be the generation in which we reach the entire world for Christ.'"
This year marks the NRB's 66th annual convention, and the second consecutive time it's been held in Nashville.
While the convention itself kicked off Saturday, the Exposition officially opened its doors Sunday afternoon.
The event concludes Tuesday.