My Experience at the Engage Worship day conference 2015
I have known of Engage Worship for a few years now, I have even used some of their fabulous free resources on their website as part of a service or two. However I had never ventured forth to one of their events . . .until now!
The theme of the day conference really stuck out for me - 'Slow Down'. This was a worship conference quite different to the myriad of others out there. It was not about how to write the next mega-hit worship song, nor was it about how to play your guitar even better or which computer program to use to achieve even better screen images. No, it was simply about God and me.
It gave time and space for us to just 'be' with God. To relax, unwind and de-stress. To identify those things that should be vehicles towards God, or pointing us towards Him, but yet they have somehow taken our focus an attention of God and have drawn it onto themselves. It's not about the lighting or the sound desk or the guitar riff. These are meant to simply be vehicles towards God, helping us connect, but if they are starting to get in the way perhaps we need to just stop for a moment. Re-calibrate. Or as my SatNav says 'recalculating' the route, to make an adjustment to the direction I was travelling in, so that I can still get to where I want to go.
Coming from a contemporary worship background where we try to use modern technology as best as we can, it was actually quite peaceful take some time-out, to unplug! Perhaps every now and then we need to help those we lead in our congregations and band to simply unplug from the gadgets and gizmos and help them to connect with God in a different way.
This could be a rediscovery of a more ancient form or worship.
Perhaps it might be discovering God in the silence and listening to the still small voice - and creating a comfortable space where silence and thought are encouraged?
Perhaps it might be using a combination of the 4 Spiritual Styles that we looked at in one of the workshops I attended on the day:
Just because music and songs help me to connect with God in a real way (as a musician) this does not mean it does the same thing for everyone else in the church. We are wired differently and connect with God more effectively in different ways, just as we learn things in different ways too.
As Worship Leaders we need to be thinking about how we can facilitate this connection with God for others, even if it is not our own preferred style.
Prayer stations, or introducing one of the spiritual disciplines may be a way forward in helping our congregations to connect with God in a real and meaningful way - yes this is without the use of the band! However you could be creative and still use other elements such as visuals on the screen, background 'soaking' music etc. You don't have to completely empty the church or the service of technology - unless God is asking you to?
This conference certainly gave me a lot to think about and lots of good, practical ideas I may try back at church.
If you have never checked them out before, head over to the engageworship.org website to find out more about them and to access some of their great resources.