Questapalooza isn't just a big Christian rock concert anymore, and never really was supposed to be one, Quest Community Church assistant pastor Justin McCarty says.
Since 2006, the concert and family festival have served as a centerpiece of fall kickoff events at the church off Reynolds Road, near Fayette Mall. Marquee Christian rock acts such as TobyMac, Kirk Franklin and Third Day have headlined the event, which has attracted thousands of church members and visitors.
But big changes are in store for this year's edition of Questapalooza.
It will still feature a Christian rock concert on Sept. 14, this year inside the 2,200-seat Quest sanctuary. But the event overall will expand to eight days of activities getting the church geared up for fall and trying to attract new people to the congregation.
"We have loved the responses to Questapalooza," McCarty said in an interview Friday morning. "What we did is tweaked it a little bit and reimagined it. We asked, 'What if Questapalooza wasn't just one day? What if it was a whole week?'
"One thing we really wanted to do was add a strong component that's been there but not as loud as the concerts and that's serving the people of this city."
To that end, McCarty says the church is setting up opportunities to work with organizations in town that reach out to disadvantaged communities. Among them is the Chrysalis House, which works with expectant and new mothers dealing with substance abuse.
"We often hear, 'Why isn't the church doing more good in the world?'" McCarty says. "So we want to show that yes, we are doing good, and you can be a part of it."
In addition to the service opportunities, Questapalooza will feature events and activities aimed at kids and youth at both its Lexington and Frankfort campuses.
And yes, there is that rock concert.
Thus far, the Friday night show is the God's Not Dead Fall 2012 Tour with Building 429, Abandon, Grace Campbell and a headliner to be named Aug. 21, though I have to say that some intelligent Googling of the tour will give you the name of the headliner in a matter of seconds. McCarty acknowledges that while the church is contractually obligated to not name the headliner, it is already a very poorly kept secret.
McCarty says that some recent concerts by acts such as Third Day in the sanctuary had helped church leaders realize they could present acts in there very well without having to put up the stage and lights in the lot adjacent to the church.
But there will be a big outdoor event, a fall fair-type of festival that will take place after services on Sept. 16.
Services will feature the return of Quest pastor Pete Hise, who has been on sabbatical; McCarty says the focus of services and teaching during Questapalooza will be on reaching out to the larger community, which he says has been the point of the festival all along.
"The heart of this event was always to serve and love the city," McCarty says. "Hopefully we have given more opportunities to engage in that.
"While it's fun to have a big concert, we realized there was a desire among people to not just be an observer but be a participant."