Some notes from the "hits" -
Breakout #1: "A Biblical Model for Worship and the Arts" - Ross Parsley
Even though Daniel teased me about attending this class (something about already having a degree in that area) - I am glad I went to this one. I'd heard Ross Parsley at a conference last summer, and I really appreciated his approach to ministry. I think I'd also written something on previous arts conference evaluations about needing something like this; they made it a main breakout, so I felt like it would be a good one to support. I was not disappointed.
While it is not easy to cover such a big topic in one workshop, I thought his big ideas were really solid and challenging. His first big idea is that God is the initiator - and we respond. That overarching idea will shape the way we approach worship. It won't be something that we feel like we control - but rather, as worship leaders, we'll strive to be usable by God in the action that He is ultimately responsible for. (Sidenote to myself: I think that also affects the content of what we plan for corporate worship - if we present God's Word, God's action - people have something to respond to.)
He issued a challenge to evaluate how we spend our time preparing to lead worship with our teams. Rehearsal/developing skill is important, but without a biblical foundation of why we're doing what we're doing - it's not balanced.
He described a worship ministry pyramid - one that many ministries have upside down.
This was his suggested structure -
While I don't know about all the order of the middle of the pyramid, it's hard to argue with the foundation. His recommendation was to look at the team prep time for a worship service - and to spend half the time in rehearsal and half in training about biblical principles. "If we're not careful, we can communicate that skills, songs, etc. are the important thing."
He issued a challenge to teach people stories/Biblical examples of sacrificial praise.,,and to challenge ourselves and them to a sacrificial view of worship.
There was lots more here, but those were my highlights. Good stuff.
I'm going to skip the middle breakouts, and jump to...
Breakout #4: Creativity in Action - Willow Creek Community Church
This session involved viewing a handful of recent creative pieces from Willow. They had 2 programming people talk about their process. I really appreciated the combination of excellent creativity paired with spiritual content. It was refreshing.
They talked about how they have intentionally moved away from fictionalized drama to incorporate more real-life stories/testimonies. I believe their phrase was "the democratization of services." I have seen this to be really effective in our services. I appreciated someone in the class who asked them how they find stories in the congregation to tell. Their answer sounded a lot like what we've had to do: ask the people who naturally connect with people and are likely to have heard peoples' stories.
Another concept in their brainstorming process is "the third choice" (which came from improv comedy). Often the first idea that comes to your mind is the most obvious; the second will be slightly better; however, if you push yourself to pause and think a little bit more, often the next idea will be even better - and more unexpected.
One final tidbit - one of their writers shared how the more detail you put into a story, the more people resonate with it. She phrased it: "universality in specificity."
Tonight we stayed for the Film Festival - which showcased a variety of videos made by churches around the country. Hard to describe it all - but some really cool ideas. I was not surprised to see the humor videos from CCC win big. The grand prize was "Serving Back" - their spoof of a Justin Timberlake song about random acts of kindness. If you've never seen it, here's your chance.
Maybe later I'll have some time to articulate some of the other thoughts that have been brewing today.