I had the tremendous opportunity last week, along with my wife Lindsey, our senior pastor Tom Douthit, and our AMP Team director Jay Conder, to attend a worship conference in Gaithersburg, MD. The conference was hosted at Covenant Life Church, the flagship church of Sovereiegn Grace Ministries, and led by Sovereiegn Grace's Director of Worship Development, Bob Kauflin. Its theme was "Rediscovering the Psalms;" there were six main teaching sessions which included a generous amount of congregational singing, Scripture recitations, and powerful messages from the Psalms from the likes of Mark Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, David Powlison, Craig Cabaniss, and Bob Kauflin. Thursday through Saturday, there were 45 seminars (each person chose five to attend) dealing with various aspects corporate worship. I'd like to share some things I gained.
I was refreshed. Throughout the conference, I was reminded of the tremendous power of the Gospel. We sang song after song celebrating God's redeeming work in Christ. We heard stirring messages from the Psalms about God's faithfulness and steadfast love. We were challenged in the seminars we attended to build our worship ministries around the central reality of the cross of Christ and its transforming power.
I was challenged. Both through the teaching and the example of other worship leaders, I was made aware of some growth opportunities (aka, weaknesses) in my own leadership. I was inspired to incorporate some spontaneity in our meetings, and to pursue emotional, as well as mental, engagement with God's truth in corporate worship. I was reminded of the tremendous need for personal purity in Christ-like character and passion in Godward emotion.
I was equipped. I was given substantial tools that I'm confident will assist me in many areas of my leadership. Some of these tools are practical things - such as how to arrange songs and use band instruments in a way that serves the song's lyrics. Some of these tools are spiritual things - such as ways to shepherd the volunteers in our worship ministry (pssst - that's you guys). Some of these tools are relational things - such as how a pastor and worship leader can (and should) successfully collaborate and serve the church together. (Tom and I attended this seminar together; we were both encouraged by the great relationship we enjoy, and challenged to nurture it.)
This is only my experience (and only a small part of it at that). Lindsey could share her own story of how she was benefitted by the conference, as I'm sure Tom and Jay could as well. I am grateful to BridgePoint for providing the support for us to attend the conference, and I pray, and trust, that the church will gain from the fruit of what we encountered in Gaithersburg.