CCEF Everyday Worship Conference Recap.
I am not typically a "conference guy." You won't find me at many of the super conferences that take place in annually in Atlanta or the one-time gatherings on the mall in Washington DC. While I love that they exist and see their benefit, my introversion usually gets the better of me and I read a book instead. That said, there are certain themes to conferences that grab my attention and beckon me to attend. The call of CCEF's Everyday Worship conference was heard and I couldn't have been rewarded any more greatly!
"They were just themselves."
There is an unaddressed insecurity to many conferences that I have attended. Regardless of size, the conference organizers and sometimes even the speakers, just tried too hard for people to like them - to really, really like them! Maybe I notice it more because it reflects my own insecurities in some way, but it always seems to distract me from what is actually being shared.
The staff of CCEF, and I mean this in the most complimentary way possible, were exactly themselves. They conducted themselves in a manner that I imagine would be how I would find them if I randomly walked into their offices and observed them working their mundane tasks. They were serious about the event, but not at the expense of their humanity. It helped us connect with them as speakers and not just expert figureheads. This was refreshing and it caused me to instantly drop my guard and ready my heart to learn.
Having never met any of the participants personally, I left feeling like I knew something about them personally - the speaker, the emcee, the bookstore staff - and not merely something about what they knew. Without this genuineness, I am not sure I would have gotten as much out of the conference as I did.
Listen to Sarah and Josh share thoughts on the Everyday Worship Conference
Making the Bible Come to Life.
The theme was Everyday worship, and as Sarah mentioned in our recap podcast, she was shocked to learn that it had nothing to do with church music! Worship, to David Powlison, the main speaker, was the interaction of the Word of God and people in the various situations where the two collide. Every avenue we strolled together dealt with the impact of the Scriptures as applied to the human heart. This indeed is worship and should be the ideal construct within all Christians should operate. Mixing the theoretical, practical, educational, and spiritual, Powlison, wove 4 separate sessions into a living tapestry. Each session, like a prism, helped us look at ourselves and God's word differently, and more completely.
It is tempted to make worship - especially in the sense of disciplined ritual - all about ourselves. How can I worship better? How will God speak to me? What does the Bible have for me? Dr. Powlison would always walk us to that edge and then quickly pull us back and remind us that we are here for each other as well. Part of worship is the responsibility that we have to apply the wisdom of the Scriptures to the situations of our neighbors as well. Christianity is not just for us personally, it is for us collectively. Keeping the treasures of everyday worship to ourselves is an affront to the incarnate God who freely gives to others the gift of grace and salvation.
What would I change?
It is hard to come up with a critique. The hosting church was overly hospitable. The bookstore staff was friendly and helpful. The emcee kept us on schedule(!) and the speakers were respectful of the audience's time. We were never more than two minutes over any scheduled stop. The church music worship team chose songs to fit the mood exquisitely. How can you possibly improve on this?
Well, a few suggestions:
- Registration is always clunky - no matter what conference you go to. It seems that many church functions still rely on printed spreadsheets and manual search for registration. In the days of iPads and integrated software, there should be a better solution. Registration is always a place that begs for efficiency.
- Better signage for information booths - There were a couple of ministry booths that I was trying to locate to get some information and it was not immediately clear the direction I was supposed to go. This could be that I am really tall and just missed the eye-level signs and this could just be a pet peeve of mine, but It shouldn't be so hard for me to figure out where I am going.
- I would have liked to see an example. Whether through a video or a live "re-telling" I would have loved to seen an example of one person directly applying the principles Dr. Powlison was talking about with another person. I'm not going so far as to say film an entire counseling session, but a 3-minute peak into a real-world conversation at a coffee shop would have been fantastic. Sometimes it is just easier to imitate something that you have seen someone else do, than to get the courage to stumble through the process on your own.
Not much to address, though, of course, this is only my perspective. Others may feel differently. I feel confident recommending any of CCEF's conferences to you. I am sure you will come away more aware of your Saviour and your responsibility as a Christian.
If you are interested in hearing the David Powlison's talks on Everyday Worship, you can purchase the conference audio from the CCEF website. While you are there, I highly recommend subscribing to the Journal of Biblical Counseling. One of the best Christian resources that I know of.