Saturday, October 2, 2010

QUICK: After the Crowder Conference

I hate talking about a movie or a concert immediately after it is over. I always feel awkward trying to put the experience into words too quickly [READ Annie Dillard's "Total Eclipse" for a better description of why we should take our time assigning language to experience].

Just finished attending THIS event.  I normally don't look into conferences except a few. It isn't clinically diagnosable, but I choke up in large crowds and long lines. I get anxious, feel trapped and annoyed. But I decided to attend this event because David Taylor was presenting and I could get a free place to stay in his hotel room and a free admission as his guest. Further David and some of us have had this on running discussion about the state of contemporary worship music throughout the summer and the overall framework of this conference seemed like a great way to continue that discussion and the learning curve. It is intriguing that David Crowder included everyone from the Welcome Wagon (who will be at Hope College a few times this year), the Bifrost Arts, Israel Houghton, Gungor, John Mark McMillan, Matt Maher, Matt Redman, Hillsong London, along with speakers like David Dark and Rob Bell. It is apparent that Crowder put this particular group of people together because despite their various disparate musical styles and positions within the church, each impress representing something substantial in Crowder's mind about what is happening in the realm of church music.

My favorites were David Dark because he has always been such great insight and is versatile within pop and higher, historical (or canonical) arts/culture, Israel Houghton because I'm pretty high on gospel music right now with all the good, sweet things that are happening at Hope with our choir, and John Mark McMillan because I love his voice and the raw place he writes and sings from.

It was a very overwhelming experience especially since I had the backstage access and got good time with many of the artists and speakers. I went knowing that It'd be overwhelmed praying that the Spirit would keep me teachable and tender and that I'd have some good connections without having to go way out of my way to ingratiate myself. I'm a bit shy about these things. To top it off, I woke up at 4am Thursday to have time to get my 5:50am departure out of GR with a burning throat. It's been a head cold that has now moved into my chest. So it was really hard for me to feel emotionally present with the people and the worship. Maybe some how the sickness has been good, relieving me of the pressure of having to emotionally connect with the whole enterprise. In fact, this morning I put in ear plugs during the music because the subs were pumping so loud the night before that I felt dizzy.

It will indeed take me some time to fully get my head wrapped around what this all means to me and I don't want to rush that process. I want to at least say a few things.
  1. I love the church. I renounce cynicism and judgmentalism. I began renouncing cynicism a while back, but it is a discipline to practice regularly. Each portion of the last three days contained something that I can learn from. I may not agree with all they do musically or say theologically and I may not be able to replicate exactly what they are teaching or representing, but the event in all its odd eccentricities leaves me loving God and the church more. I'm tired of cynicism. Create in me a clean heart Oh God. I believe, help my unbelief.
  2. With all that I've been exposed to in the last three days, I feel even more delight with what God is doing through us at Hope College. Yes, I've just seen some world class musicianship and some powerful examples of worship leadership, but there is something lovely about the ministry and spiritual community at Hope College. I'm so grateful. We have World Communion Sunday tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to it even if I'm so sick I can't sing.
I'm still in Waco for the night and fly into GR at 1pm. If you read this before then, please pray that my flights are all on time so that I can get back for rehearsal for the Gathering tomorrow night.



Jacob Bullard said...

Josh, I will certainly pray for your return and your continued digestion of this experience. It sounds exciting and I am happy to hear your immediate reactions. Look forward to hearing more.

Peace to you

Aaron Mitchum said...

Hey Josh - thanks for your reflections. I had similar reservations about going beforehand too, mostly because the conference format rarely connects with me and I end up leaving more cynical. But I left leaving glad I went and like you I appreciated the line up and the generosity there. I found myself thinking "how can we synthesis and contextualize something between Bifrost Arts, David Dark and Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings."