I’ve been absence from my blog for a while due to the fact that I’ve been preparing and participating in the New City Fellowship Worship Conference in Chattanooga Tennessee this past week. It was a blast! We had a great time making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, and worshiping Jesus with every once of strength we had left. My church brought a group of 11 people made up of leaders, prospective leaders, and neophytes. It was an exciting experience for everyone to be given a fresh vision, encouragement to persevere, and practical advise on the tools of cross-cultural worship music. Here’s a few of the specific highlights:
The conference was infused with constant singing, dancing, and beats. NCF Glenwood (the mother church of all NCFs) started the conference worship session with loud, vibrant praise that set the tone for the event. Each seminar and talk included spontaneous worship that would break out at the mention of a lyric or title that we all knew. It was encouraging for all of us vocational worship contractors to be led in worship together. I love to praise his holy name!
Seminars and Keynotes
My dad, James Ward, gave a very encouraging talk on Thursday that was realistic about the battlefield of cross-cultural worship while also giving us hope based in faith in the kingship of Jesus. Pastor Randy Nabors shared the vision and history of worship at NCF as well as the pastors perspective of worship leadership. Pastor Jim Pickett from NCF East Lake brought a passionate message from Micah about nations streaming to Mount Zion where they are given freedom to participate in worship without being excluded by ethnocentric power struggles.
Networking and Fellowship
Every good conference has the effect of knitting together ministries from far off places into relationships that are encouraging and supportive. I met so many other musicians at various stages in life who are excited and gifted. It was especially encouraging to meet musicians from ministries that I had never been exposed to before this week. God is working all over the world in amazing ways! Meals, breaks, and spontaneous jam sessions provided times for us to tune in to the work of the Spirit in other ministries. My favorite moment was on Thursday afternoon when several of us began to worship together instrumentally; making a joyful noise with confidence and joy in our Savior. Cantad a Jehovah cantico nuevo! Alegria!
What’s in store for next year? I know that the NCF ministries in Chattanooga are not going to host a 2011 conference. Maybe the ministries in St Louis should take up the conference planning in the alternate years. hmmmm…