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Two Sets Of Reflections On A US Worship Leaders Conference

2 Comments

Bruce Benedict of Cardiphonia and Zac Hicks of Cherry Creek Presbyterian attended The National Worship Leader Conference (NWLC).
They each provide a post at their respective blogs which contain some of their impressions, critiques and constructive analysis.
Both are worth a read.
Benedict’s head points. (Read the full post here):

A Newly Discovered 4th Member of the Trinity?
The High Priests of Modern Christian Worship
Three Pop Songs and a Hymn
Songwriting from Suffering & The Lord’s Supper

Here’s one of his sections in full:

The High Priests of Modern Christian Worship
Being at the National Worship Leaders Conference got me thinking a lot about how the church in america thinks about worship leaders. In other words how do musicians fit into the ecclesiology of church leadership? While the Old Testament speaks of musicians as part of the leadership of temple worship the NT is mostly silent about musicians in leadership. Are we called to be pastors, deacons? servants? teachers? Who are we accountable too? We certainly have a lot of influence over the spiritual diet and formation of God’s people!
I was very excited to see/hear all of the artists that were present. They are all unbelievable musicians, songwriters, and performers. They are all people who have an earnest desire to see God’s people encouraged and edified. And after listening to them lead all week and reflecting on the language they used (it was incredibly consistent) I think that most of them lead function as High Priests. As they led (Aaron Keyes was especially poignant in this regard) they presented an experience of worship that most of us could never hope to attain this side of glory. It was of an intensely personal nature…like we had been invited into their own private worship time. Since I wasn’t able to quite match the pitch and intensity of their worshipping on the stage I disconnected and was content to watch them. They were worshipping for me..making exquisite offerings of word, and body, and music. But honestly I was left a bit confused and exhausted!
I’ve always thought of worship leaders like Bus Drivers. Where you’re the one driving and providing direction but everyone is going more or less the same speed! Worshipping at the conference often felt like getting hurled from 0 to Jesus in under 4 seconds (Spiritual whiplash anyone?) The services could be likened to a Formula One race where we were all chasing the worship leader driving the new Maserati. I need to get a new car for sure!

And from Hicks (Read the full post here):
Scholarship is finally emerging which takes contemporary worship seriously enough to analyze it.
The industry is attempting to be conversant with this thoughtful scholarship.

Modern worship is, perhaps, witnessing a turning point toward eclectic styles.
Modern worship has a great heart and has captured an important aspect of what whole-self worship looks like in the corporate setting.
Modern worship has a healthy self-awareness of its quirks.
Regardless of their denomination, many modern worship leaders are oblivious to how beholden their practices and worship planning habits are to pentecostal theology.
Modern worship continues very much to struggle with ageism and the worship of young, beautiful people.

And one of his points in full:

Regardless of their denomination, many modern worship leaders are oblivious to how beholden their practices and worship planning habits are to pentecostal theology.
In almost every instance, if there was a breakout session with an artist or practitioner, their language and reflection were loaded with pentecostal presuppositions: comments about the human’s relationship to the causality of God’s manifest presence and the power of the Spirit; quips about the role of the worship leader; hints at internally-oriented, very individualized piety; and on and on. Whether Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Lutheran, or non-denominational, it’s still a bit discouraging to see that many worship leaders see no tension between the theology upheld by their tradition and the praxis of much of modern worship.
The CWM industry/movement still lacks adequate reflection on technology.

2 thoughts on “Two Sets Of Reflections On A US Worship Leaders Conference

  1. Thank you for finding these 2 colorful commentaries about the NWLC in Kansas.

    May I take this opportunity to invite you to NWLC in California this October 9-11 http://worshipleader.com/nwlcca/ ? I see that you’re based in Australia, so it’d be quite a considerable effort and investment; we do have an international registration fee that is as low as possible. We’d welcome your personal feedback as you experience NWLC for yourself.

    Regards,

    DJ Chuang
    Worship Leader Magazine

    • Thanks for the comment and the invite, but my church are sending me to Zimbabwe in September to visit a church there.
      I’ll be experiencing their worship, something to which I’m really looking forward.

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