Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Willow Arts Conference

I'm a person who gets excited by traditions. It helps me to have things to look foward to and gives a sense of rhythm to life.

Right now I'm in the middle of my mid-June tradition: attending the Willow Creek Arts Conference (it's #6 in a row for me - crazy). I look forward to being able to worship not up front, see new creative ideas, to be challenged, and to spend extra time with the people I serve alongside.

We just completed day 1 of the conference. It was my goal to blog while here; I think I'm going to do bullet points today (I am sick. again. and medicated.).

  • The first session opened with a drumline - loved their high energy.
  • The opening worship & teaching session was nourishing to my soul. The worship leaders led us really well - very authentic and just a great chance to focus on Who God is and what he's done for us. I loved how expressively Scripture was incorporated. Nancy Beach walked us through Psalm 40 devotionally. Most challenging quote: "If we're not careful, we will do ministry more from memory than from imagination." She also briefly addressed the changes Willow's making to their worship services (re-vamping Wednesday nights and then making Sunday morning seeker-friendly, but a worship service for all stages of believers/seekers). It made me want to hear more about that - because that? Is a pretty big deal.
  • I had my standard Willow conference snack break of Diet Pepsi and Cheez-its. Stellar.
  • Session 2 wins the random award. Opened with a 14-year-old violinist who was incredible. Then Eric Bramlett from CCC and another guy hosted a Rock Band competition. It was entertaining, though - random. Then Nancy Beach interviewed one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil. One of our team members mentioned that they would have liked to hear more from him; it was a rather short interview. The last question asked of him was, "why are the arts important?" He responded along the lines that humans are unique from other animals in their desire to create and imagine. I couldn't help but connect that to the idea that we're made in God's image - and God is the ultimate Creator.
  • The afternoon session featured the Robbie Seay Band leading worship. It was cool to hear them live - I have both albums of theirs. I enjoyed them, though I will confess, I closed my eyes and rested for part of it.
  • As soon as I heard Brian McLaren was speaking, I was anticipating that I would be challenged/stretched/etc. I expected some challenging of traditional theological concepts and models of church. He spoke mostly from his most recent book, "Everything Must Change" - about how the church needs to address the biggest needs in the world. It ended up being less controversial than I anticipated, but rather a good reminder of the concept of holistic spirituality. There were several cool stories/creative ideas woven into that session that I appreciated. This session probably had the most information to chew on/things that challenged me. They had a few people who are involved in fair trade speak - it's pretty challenging to think about the impact of our spending choices on people around the world.
  • Our team shared a lovely evening of PF Changs, a big mall (with a Cubs store that made Josh very excited), and causing a rucus playing the telephone story game at La Quinta.

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