The Calvin Symposium simply has to be named among the best worship conferences out there. The challenge of getting so many different voices and perspectives in one place engaging in convicted yet loving dialogue is difficult, but the folks at Calvin have done a remarkable job of creating that space and setting the tone. My own experience as a conference attender, worshiper, panelist, and breakout session leader was shaped therefore not only by the content of the conference but the actual people in the room. I will share my impressions of the panels and breakouts I was a part of, for what they’re worth to others.
I participated in four events and sat in on a host of others. Some of my highlights were being led by Bruce Benedict and his Hope College crew, deftly blending their band with the organ in a pipe rock extravaganza. It was also great conversing with worship scholars like Wen Reagan and Monique Ingalls about the national and global contemporary worship movement (check out this book that they both contributed to for fascinating historical and ethnomusicological insights into contemporary/modern worship). Another fabulous highlight was sitting in on Sandra Van Opstal’s pretty remarkable exposition of her new book, The Next Worship, which I look forward to reading and reviewing in more detail—there is a lot for me to learn under her tutelage.
Worship Leaders are Eager For This
The big surprise for me was to find how many people packed the lecture hall for my repeated workshop on “The Worship Pastor.” The room was electric, and people were resonating with what we were talking about. I was talking with individuals for long after the breakout ended, and I was hearing similar stories: “I’ve been feeling like what I’m doing has pastoral impact on people, and what you’re saying really helped define and awaken those thoughts.” I talked to lead pastors, as well, whose eyes were being opened to what the vocation of their counterpart worship leader really is.
Worship leaders are ripe and ready to take on the pastoral mantle. I’m not talking about formal ordination and formal “pastor” in their title. I’m talking about ownership…ownership of the reality of what they are already doing, shepherding souls, impacting faith-walks, and making disciples.
And Finally…My Hero
Most people didn’t know that a quiet legend was walking among us at the conference. His name is Dr. William Lock, who faithfully taught voice and church music for over 40 years at Biola University. And Dr. Lock has left an indelible mark on my life. He taught me to think critically about worship, church, and culture, and he was one of the first people to really encourage me as a writer. He gave me space to grow and wings to fly, and it’s high time I give this great mentor of mine a major shout out on this blog, which owes way too much to this man.