Deep inside every heart is a desire for something more.
Something bigger. Something greater.

This transcendence shows up most clearly in the local expressions of Christ's kingdom. As disciples are made and glory is given, God's very presence manifests itself.

A Vertical Church. What every heart longs for, this is what every church can be.

Vertical Church Conference is an opportunity for church leaders to grow in vertical ministry, discipleship, and shouldering weekly kingdom responsibilities. Learn about prayer, preaching, evangelism, and worship. You'll walk away feeling challenged, refreshed, refocused, and equipped to accelerate your leadership and grow in discipleship capacity.


James MacDonald

James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founder and Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel. He has led the church since its inception in 1988 with just 18 people, to the present—with seven campuses in the Chicago area and 13,000 weekly attenders. His practical teaching of God’s Word is broadcast daily around the world on radio and TV through the programWalk in the Word. In 2002, Dr. MacDonald founded Harvest Bible Fellowship, a church-planting network, which started more than 160 vertical churches on four continents. He has authored several books and Bible studies, including Act Like Men; Vertical Church; Lord, Change Me; Lord, Change My Attitude; When Life is Hard; Always True; and most recently, The Will of God IS the Word of God. He and his wife Kathy live near Chicago.


Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. He is the Executive Editor of The Gospel Project and Facts & Trends Magazine.

J.D. Greear

J.D. Greear is the pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina which has grown from 300 to nearly 10,000, and is one of Outreach magazine’s “top 25 fastest-growing churches in America”. In the last ten years, the church has sent out more than 650 people to live on church planting teams—in North Carolina, across the United States, and around the world. Pastor J.D. Greear has authored several books, including Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send (2015). Pastor J.D. completed his Ph.D. in Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Veronica live in Raleigh and have four children.

Ron Zappia

Ron Zappia is the founding and Lead Pastor of Highpoint Church a multisite church in the western suburbs of Chicago. He teaches the Bible through a daily radio broadcast, online platform, and conferences. Ron is a sought-after conference speaker with a heart for evangelism and the local church. He has a undergrad degree in accounting and finance from Bowling Green State University and a masters from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Ron and his wife, Jody, have three daughters and live in Wheaton, Illinois.

Kathryn Scott

Kathryn Scott was originally born in northern Ireland, grew up in a Christian family and moved to England to study theology at the Elim Bible College where she met her husband. They planted the Causeway Cost Vineyard Church in Ireland. In 2002, Kathryn signed to Integrity Music and recorded three solos albums, Satisfy, I Belong and We Still Believe. In 2014, she released an independent EP called "Sing on the Battlefield" and is excited about what is next. She and her husband Alan have two daughters.


VCB is a team of worship leaders serving Chicago’s multi-site Harvest Bible Chapel— crafting songs with one intention: to invite their local community and a multiplying national audience to arrive at a place that is vertical – eyes on the Lord. That goal is surely reached on the collective’s albums Live Worship From Vertical Church - featuring the Dove-nominated “Open Up The Heavens” – their sophomore album, The Rock Won’t Move, their billboard chart-topping 3rd album, Church Songs, and their latest chart topping album: Frontiers.


Dove Award-winning contemporary Christian music artist and worship leader Meredith Andrews was born and raised in Wilson, North Carolina. A singer from the age of six, Andrews released her debut solo album, Mesmerized, in 2005. She received her first Dove Award nomination in 2008 for her sophomore outing The Invitation, and took home the award for Praise & Worship Album of the Year in 2010 for As Long as It Takes. Her fourth studio album, Worth It All, followed in 2013 and cracked the Billboard 200. Later that year, she issued a reverent Christmas EP titled Behold the Savior, and her fifth full-length outing, Deeper, arrived in early 2016.


Raised in Wheaton, IL, Jon Guerra spent his developmental years learning to play guitar and admiring artists like Bob Dylan, Rich Mullins and Radiohead. Guerra, also a part of Vertical Church Band out of Harvest Bible Chapel, is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter with one of the most unique voices you’ll ever hear. Co-writers such as Matt Maher and Jason Ingram also contribute on the newcomer’s debut album Little Songs, which includes standout songs including “Stained Glass” and “Wherever You Are" and “I Will Follow.”

Sunday, August 13

5:30 pm – Registration Opens
7:00 pm – Main Session 1
9:00 pm – Late Night Option

Monday, August 14

8:00 am – Registration
9:30 am – Main Session 2
12:00 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm – Breakout 1
Vertical Worship, Vertical Prayer, Vertical Evangelism, Vertical Preaching
3:00 pm – Main Session 3
5:00 pm – Dinner
7:00 pm – Main Session 4
9:00 pm – Late Night Option

Tuesday, August 15

9:30 am – Main Session 5
12:00 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm – Breakout 2
Vertical Worship, Vertical Prayer, Vertical Evangelism, Vertical Preaching
3:00 pm – Main Session 6

WEDNESDAY, August 16

6 workshop tracks: Student Ministry, Children’s Ministry, Worship, Small Groups, Biblical Soul Care, and Preaching

8:30 am – Workshop 1
9:45 am – Workshop 2
11:00 am – Workshop 3

Full Workshop Schedule


Harvest Bible Chapel - Elgin Campus

1000 N. Randall Road, Elgin, IL 60123