Lifest 2009 Kicks Off with More than Music Lined Up

The 11th Annual Lifest Festival has drawn thousands to the Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis., for four days and four nights of music, messages, fellowship, and fun.

From Wednesday night until Sunday afternoon, Lifest attendees will rock to the sounds of Kutless, Skillet, Matthew West, tobyMac, Barlow Girl, Superchic[k], Leeland, David Crowder Band, Pillar, Aaron Shust, Third Day, Hawk Nelson, Stellar Kart, Bluetree, Derek Webb, Jeremy Camp, and a slew of other artists.

Also in the mix will be more than 40 speakers, including some highly popular yet controversial ones, such as "Red-Letter Christian" leader Tony Campolo and William Paul Young, author of the best-selling novel The Shack.

"Even if you don't even like music, you gotta come to Lifest," says Lifest founder Bob Lenz.

"We have 47 speakers and 700 workshops this year," he adds. "So inside of this music festival, we have this conference going on."

Aside from the music and the workshops, Lifest features dozens of other attractions, including sports, karaoke, a skatepark, a cybercafé, and marketplace with "cool stuff that you'd never see at the mall," according to organizers.

Though many of the attractions have been added to expose the gospel to youth who wouldn't normally attend a Christian music festival, Lifest also offers activities to help growing believers on their path of faith.

Each full day has been assigned a theme, starting with "inward" on Thursday, followed by "upward" on Friday, and ending with "outward" on Saturday.

According to Lenz, the hope is to lift up attendees in their personal walk with God, their worship in life, and ultimately their service for God's Kingdom.

"Lifest is great, but we're not just coming for a blessing festival," he says. "No, we're coming to get equipped. We're coming to get trained. We're coming to get challenged."

On Sunday, Lifest will conclude with a Sunday worship service that will feature music from Jeremy Camp and Peder Eide and a message from Lenz and The Shack author William Paul Young, whose book has received both strong praise and strong criticism within the Christian community.

The Shack has been on the New York Times Bestsellers List for Paperback Trade Fiction for 58 weeks and currently ranks at No. 2.

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