Our master of the blog has asked us to post some insights gleaned from a worship conference. I thought about this, and realized that I could not do this because I don’t go to worship conferences. I attend the Kentucky Baptist Church Music Conference, but it’s more for the conversations than the content. So when Dennis made this request, I had to ask myself–why don’t I go to worship conferences?
It’s not because I think I know everything. The longer I live, the more I realize how much I don’t know.
It’s not because I can’t afford it. Early in my ministry, this would have been a factor, but I have some flexibility now in time and resources that would make a conference accessible if I was interested.
So there’s the answer–I guess I’m not interested.
In fact, I am tired of worship.
Actually, what I am tired of is worship as a subject for lecture, discussion, dissection, examination, comparison, evaluation, argument, reinventing, summarizing, selling media, announcing the next big thing, and transforming through technology. I’m tired of talking about it.
So you can call me the Andy Rooney of this blog–cynical Mr. Conference Curmudgeon.
But worship itself–authentic worship–no, I’m not tired of that. I long for that. And maybe I could find that at a conference. Maybe I should give that a try.
But I must confess that most authentic worship occurs for me in contexts outside the corporate experiences we usually and unbiblically define as worship.
I have walked down a country lane, pouring out my soul to God in confusion and confession, and experienced a sense of His listening and forgiving presence that caused me to cry out in sweet release.
I have been surprised and overwhelmed with the creative majesty of God by music that had no faith connection or by vistas on a mountain road when my mind was a thousand miles from ecclesiastical realms.
I have read an article in which a fellow struggler revealed his failure and his redemption, and been moved to tears again by grace.
I have set aside the typical male resistance to emotional intimacy, and shared with someone those thoughts and feelings that make me uncomfortable–and in doing so felt the presence of the Spirit in tranforming power.
I have felt the physical depletion of a long day on mission, exhausted from the unfamiliar swings of a pickaxe, gathering with my fellow laborers and sharing conversation on subjects mundane and important. And in the laughter and reflection of those moments I have offered thanksgiving as profound as any doxology.
Come to think of it, I have been to a lot of worship conferences. They happen when I let God confer with me through the experiences of life and the revelation of His truth. They happen when I least expect it. They happen when it isn’t about me. They happen in my most self-forgetful moments.
Maybe that is what we should be learning and teaching about worship: that it’s about opening our minds, eyes, ears, and hearts to God every day–and then gathering together in the overflow of those worshiping lives.
That would be a worship conference that requires no registration fee, hotel rooms, or airplane tickets.
Sign me up.