This past week, a dream came true for me. My church hosted a conference for churches in our denomination with the same passion for the biblical call for justice and reconciliation. There were about 80 people made up of pastors, church planters, ruling elders, seminary students, and a few of us laymen. Not many musicians other than folks who wear two hats in their ministry like my old friend, Jim Payne. There were a lot of different kinds of churches represented. There were New City Fellowship churches which were planted with reconciliation and justice as their core values. Then there were mono-cultural, established ministries that are choosing to bring change to their churches vision to include rec/just. A great example of this king of ministry is Grace Church in Dover Delaware. There were also church plants that are just starting out and looking for ideas like Grace Meridian Hill.
The conference was a lot of fun for me to be involved with. I was responsible for worship music and liturgy for the week. We got to sing in English, Swahili, Hindi, and Spanish. With a room full of pastors who have a passion for multicultural ministry, it was an easy crowd to introduce so much diversity in the music styles and languages. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was pretty sick all week, I would have probably had even more fun hanging out with old friends and meeting new ministry colleagues.
There was a few ideas introduced but the most significant was the idea of a network of churches in the PCA who are all committed to these issues. These churches would support the creation of more church plants and maybe even create resources and training opportunities for established churches that are looking for ways to facilitate a transition. This is an idea that really gets me excited. My father and I have been working on creating a stronger network in our churches to share music and to equip our teams for the unique challenges of cross-cultural worship music. An established network of churches that are committed to these goals would be a natural green house to create and share new music resources.
This past summer, I attended the NCF Music Conference in Chattanooga TN. This conference was a great time for musicians from some of these same ministries to encourage each other, get ideas and build relationships. My father, James Ward, organized that conference, but he’s chosen to only host the conference ever 2 years. That leaves a nice gap for my church to host a similar conference in St Louis. So, stay tuned…this week I’m going to start making calls and getting ideas for some dates. Let me know if you are part of a ministry that is committed to reconciliation and justice and you want to get some ideas of how these values get worked out in the worship music ministry.