In my previous post I put up the music set list for STAND 2010, a bible conference we hosted at HBC. This was the first time I had been tasked with organising all the music for an event of this size. I’m certain that God really used it as an opportunity to teach all our musicians, sound and media crew on how to use our gifts to better serve the church.
For what it’s worth, here’s some of the things I learned, put into practice, or noticed this year.
1. We can stand firm on solid, Christ-centered singing. I enjoyed choosing and singing songs that proclaimed the gospel with clarity, and was easy to sing. This meant anything from a rocked up arrangement of “Crown Him With Many Crowns”, to a take on Sovereign Grace’s “Let Your Kingdom Come” complete with brass chorus, to a pared back version of the Getty’s “Behold the Lamb” with violins and a piano.
2. We can stand together with a love of Christ-exalting music, no matter what our church background. From the early days of planning the teams, we had the opportunity to pull in gifted musicians from other churches. With early planning and sufficient practice we benefited and learnt from these musicians and the strengths they brought to the team. It’s also a practical way of demonstrating our unity in the gospel – for example, when three of us, from three different churches, joined together to lead “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” on the close of Saturday night. It was a powerful moment.
3. Hymns aren’t so bad. Some of the most powerful times of worship was when the music was pared down to just a couple of voices leading the congregation in some classic hymns of the faith. On Saturday morning, we used a mens quartet and an organ to supply the hymns we sang with rich, four-part harmony – something not common in many churches today. The only complaint we had was from people that wanted to hear us sing on our own next time!
4. Committed sound crew are integral to the musicians leading well. On the first night, we had a few problems with balancing the sound for the praise band. To their credit the sound crew (led by Jared Ambrose and Craig Starrenburg) worked hard to balance the sounds from the atypically large team and did a great job in fixing the balance problems. This meant that Saturday night’s music was wholly focused on the singing and the words, and the instruments added colour but didn’t “steal the show” as much.
5. No one worship style is sovereign over our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the whole weekend we deliberately chose a variety of music styles. It’s no problem to have personal preferences – I have my own too! But if we’re uniting on the gospel of first importance (1 Cor 15), then deferring to our brothers and sisters on secondary issues like musical preferences becomes easier. It was heartening to see (and hear) conference attendees sing through a range of Christ-centred songs, whatever the style. No one style can fully capture God’s majesty and glory, and I for one am looking forward to hearing what musical genre our refrains of “Holy Holy Holy” will be in Heaven….
As always the more you do something, the more you’ll learn: that’s certainly true when it comes to leading worship. By God’s grace He’ll continue to refine our ministry and work, so it better glorifies Him – and I’m grateful for that!