For each of the past 4 years I have had the privilege to attend the Experience Worship Conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference is designed for worship pastors by worship pastors. So, it is basically set-up for people just like me. They bring in some of the best worship teams, teachers, preachers, and worship artists from around the world for us to experience. This year they brought in groups/artists/preachers like Hillsong United, Vertical Church Band, Chris Tomlin, and James McDonald. It was a wonderful time and with this week's blog post I wanted to share a few things I learned while there.
1. Technology in worship is always changing. Twenty years ago, if you had a hymnal, you were set for worship. Now worship involves ipads, computer programs like Ableton, multi-tracks, loops, and in-ear monitor units. I can't even imagine what worship will look like 20 years from now.
2. Rock Star worship leaders are OUT. There was a time, recently even, when the worship leader acted like a rock star trying to get everyone excited and jumping around. They never sang the same song twice and typically acted like the "show". Now churches and pastors are looking for worship leaders who have a true heart to lead others to Jesus. They want people who are "authentic" and "real".
3. Postures in worship are becoming big. What I mean by "postures" is kneeling, bowing, raising hands, clapping, laying prostrate, heads bowed, etc... They are physical expressions of worship that are listed in the Bible. It seemed like every time a worship group or leader would start a time of worship, he/she/they would have us start by getting into some type of physical posture of worship. I have to admit, it does seem to help prepare the heart to enter into a true time of worship.
4. Worship Conferences are REALLY LOUD!!! At MPBC, a really big worship song will be around 85-90 decibels. At this conference, the really big worship songs ran around 115-120 decibels. That's the equivalent of being underneath an airplane as it takes off. After 45 minutes of this, your ears would definitely get a little bit tired. I went outside one time while the music was playing and could still hear it. It was just LOUD.
5. If your Pastor is not a worshiper, your church will not be a worshiping church. It doesn't matter how good your music is, if your Pastor (Senior, Lead, Teaching, or whatever you call him) isn't a worshiper, your church won't be a worshiping church. He will set the example even more than your worship team or worship pastor. I'm thankful that MPBC has a Pastor who worships!
6. MPBC has a LOT of talented people! In fact, for a church of our size, we have way more than we should. I talked with a number of worship pastors at the conference who were desperate for musicians, singers, and tech team members. And these guys worked at very large churches (well over 1,000 people in attendance). Most churches our size don't have half as many musicians, singers, and tech team people as we do. We are very blessed!
7. Our tech team is AWESOME!!! The conference had a lot of cool lights and effects (apparently money is no object for them), but they consistently had the wrong lyrics on the screens and would struggle with playing videos and sometimes even getting mics on. I'm grateful that our tech team works hard each week to avoid these types of issues. That's not to say that they never make a mistake, but the amount of mistakes at the conference, by professionals, was scary.