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Why the Doxology & Theology Conference is Worth Checking Out

November 13-14
Louisville, KY 

There are a handful of conferences that come around every year or two that I think are worth a worship leader's time and investment. They're not all the same, and they therefore don't serve the same purpose. I tend to think of conferences like these in two broad categories. The first are the "big tent" conferences. A great example of this would be the National Worship Leader Conference, now hosted regionally 3-4 times a year. Big tent conferences will try to bring a lot of people together, and they're usually willing to absorb a fair amount of tension in the vision, theology, philosophy, and outlook of worship. The second category of worship conference is the "niched" conference. This type of conference is there to articulate a specific vision for and outlook on worship.  The Doxology & Theology Conference (less than one month away!) is this kind of conference.

Why Go to a Worship Conference in General?

Before I advocate for D&T, the question should be asked as to whether conferences are valuable at all. I see worship conferences as having a two-fold value, neatly divisible in even halves. 50% of the value of a conference is its content and insight, and 50% is the networking. Even if I'm not much of a "student-type" or even if I'm not in a very teachable place (my life is busy, I've got other things occupying my attention), there is something refreshing to the soul about stepping outside of your world, zooming out, and getting a perspective of the forest instead of always inspecting the bark of that one tree that you live next to. EVERY time I go to a conference, something about the content will take me by surprise, illumine my life, and affect my ministry back home. But I also go simply to meet people, have conversations, hear stories, and establish more contacts. Usually, I'm frantically trying to get their name down so that I can follow them on twitter or connect with them on FB or Instagram. I can't tell you how much I've learned from and forged friendships through conferences followed up by social media. It's been remarkable, and it is a great habit to be ever widening your own circle of contacts and "influencers." And there's an ecclesiastical-theological truth here: the more of the body of Christ I know, the better I know Christ.

Why Go to This One?

So D&T is a conference with a specific theological vision. To be clear, it will talk about worship from within a theologically conservative and evangelical framework. It will view thoughtful cultural engagement as important, and it will articulate a gospel- and Christ-centered approach to worship and ministry. If you wanted a more thorough understanding, check out the book, Doxology & Theology. In the past, it has gathered the types of worship leaders who have been associated with churches connected with bigger wheelhouses like the Gospel Coalition and the Acts 29 network, so you can expect similar (though not identical) spheres of thought. You will find that the content has been influenced by pastors and theologians like D. A. Carson, John Piper, and Mark Dever, and worship thinkers like Bob Kauflin and Harold Best.

This year's conference is focused on "The Life & Labor of the Worship Leader"...a topic which is near and dear to my heart. I'll be doing a breakout on the subject of how worship leaders can think of themselves as pastors and engage their jobs more pastorally. If you're in or around Louisville, or if you can swing a last-minute trip, I'd encourage you to come!


How a High View of Worship Challenges and Affirms Missional Thinking

The missional movement is now firmly established and influencing all kinds of churches, including mine, to the glory and praise of God.  I love this re-energized focus of the church toward abandoning purely “attractional” models of evangelism and embracing the missionary-hood-of-all-believers paradigm.  I’m enthralled by the resurgence of interest in the doctrine of Christ’s incarnation and its accompanying emphasis on the humanity of Christ as just as important as His divinity.  I’m encouraged by the resulting discussions about contextualization, cultural exegesis, and externally-focused living.  And I’m cheering on and supporting the uprising of new church plants, especially in all the major urban centers of the United States.

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What is Biblical Worship?

The Difficulty of “Biblical Worship” Discussions

I’ve been in conversation with some trusted friends over the issue of “biblical worship” and how many people (including us) toss that phrase around, often meaning very different things.  The concern is that people use the Bible to talk about worship without admitting that we approach the Text with different methodologies in place that color what we pull out of it.  When well-meaning Bible thinkers exegete Scripture and come out with defenses for quite different worship practices, we need to pause and ask the meta-questions about how we’re approaching the text, which texts we’re approaching, and why some texts are informative to the topic while others are not. 

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Worship and the Physical Body: The Earthen Vessels Symposium - Part 2

This is Part 2 of a blog symposium with Matt Anderson on his book Earthen Vessels.


How We Analyze Disembodied Forms of Worship

This section puts Anderson at odds with much of the cutting edge thinking about online church, video feeds of preachers, and disembodied Christian “communities.”  I agree with his analysis (ultimately, that the aforementioned realities are inadequate, even wrong, and betray an inadequate biblical anthropology) and will only add a few things.  Anderson pokes at something very significant at the get-go when he talks about the “altar call” and the dominance of the act of evangelism in shaping evangelical worship.13  We can burrow down deeper, here.  Evangelical worship today has been shaped by the realities of the American frontier. 

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Worship and the Physical Body: The Earthen Vessels Symposium - Part 1

I have the privilege of contributing to a blog symposium, along with several other authors and bloggers, on Matt Anderson’s terrific book, Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith.1  Matt is a fellow Biola-grad, lover of Christ’s Church, and blogaholic over at Mere Orthodoxy and Evangel.  Even as I interact with the book, be sure to check Mere-O in a few days from this post to see Matt’s interaction with me.

The final chapter of the book, “The Body and the Church,” instead of focusing on ecclesiology (the study of the church), in general, zeroes in on doxology (the study of worship) in particular.  To structure the dialogue, let me first attempt to summarize the chapter in a thesis statement, along with his subsequent supporting arguments.  Anderson’s chief point is that the physical body matters to corporate worship.

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