Personally I think it went OK, though I typically don’t speak well in settings when I’m nervous, and I also wish as follow-up everyone who attended just listen to the more detailed and helpful lecture series by Kevin Twit. I hope more practice in future will help me to be a clearer and more helpful speaker.
But I had a patient and understanding audience who asked good questions, both during and after the seminar. I’m especially thankful that people were genuinely interested and there was a good group of young adults present and challenged to consider what hymns really are, why they’re worth passing on to the next generation, and some ways we could do that.
For example, I chatted with someone from a Reformed Church (she said they sing both psalms and hymnspsalms only) who commented how helpful it was to discuss this topic. In addition, I heard afterwards that it gave a few young adults good food for thought on using and singing hymns, so I thank God for that.
As usual I prepared too much to say in too little time. If I could do it over again, other things worth mentioning would be:
More specific ways of using hymns in personal and family worship
How to use tunes we know to sing hymn texts we don’t know (this can be really fun and rewarding to do)
some good examples of hymns that have been set to more accessible music
Anyways, where to from here? Probably just keep on learning and passing hymns to the next generation… like this…
It was a joy to lead the attendees in worshipping our Lord for His unsurpassed work of redemption, and standing firm in the gospel of our glorious God. Folks came from a variety of denominations and churches across New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Wales, and we had Geoff Thomas from Aberyswyth, Wales as the keynote speaker.
We hosted people from various church backgrounds and musical preferences – so our range of music was chosen to reflect that diversity. The music teams over the weekend ranged from a full praise band — complete with a brass section — to an a cappella mens groupleading in four-part harmony. Some criteria for the songs were: is it God-exalting? is it singable? is it congregational? is it edifying?
The list of songs (with lyrics and audio/video examples where applicable) and messages are below. The opening message from Geoff in particular will give you an insight into Jesus that could only have come from a man who’s known Him all his life!
It’s taken awhile but video for the general sessions of the STAND conference are now available online:
The five sessions are:
Session 1 – Standing Firm on the Sufficiency of Scripture
Session 2 – Standing Firm on the Centrality of the Gospel
Session 3 – Standing Firm: A High View of God in Evangelism
Session 4 – Standing Firm: A High View of God in Worship
Session 5 – Standing Firm: Leading a Disciplined Life
At STAND conference 2010 the keynote speaker was Conrad Mbewe, a reformed pastor from Zambia nicknamed "the African Spurgeon." The sermons for the whole conference are available here and are free to download. These are the notes that I personally took from Session 3 - it may not accurately represent Conrad's original sermon.
STAND 2010 Session 3: A high view of God in evangelism
Conrad starts with
1. Some wrong motivations for evangelism:
Is our motivation numerical? If your primary motivation for evangelism is to bulk up church numbers, without checking for true repentance, you'll fill up the church with the spiritually dead.
Is our motivation to depopulate hell?
Claim evangelism effectiveness?
No. The only true motivation for evangelism is: the glory of God. Anything less than that is idolatry.
2. A true motivation: the glory of God
In the coming ages, God will have His boast in sinners turned into saints. It is transformed lives that evidence His power and glory, not numbers.
What kept Jesus going in the garden of Gethsemane? He looked beyond His own death to see multiplied thousands upon thousands of souls.
The work of evangelism and missions is not easy. It may mean many years of barrenness and/or persecution. If your motivations are not right, it may mean repeated deaths of our inner self (leading to depression, discouragement). UNLESS: God gives you an appreciation that your work, however fruitless, is for His glory.
3. An example from the modern age - particularly convicting for dA I felt!
In the modern church we seem to forget the highness of God in evangelism and outreach. Evangelism becomes us-centred, statistically-minded, calculative.
The great Shepherd seeks the sheep. But self-centred modern churches seem to think that since sheep have 4 legs, any other 4-legged creatures are close enough - goats! camels! Come right into the fold!
On the other hand, there is also a tendency, particularly in America, to identify ourselves according to a very narrow denominational definition: "Hi, I'm Calvinistic, pre-millenial, dispensational, ... " (etc). This then extends to evangelism. Pity you if you think of church planting in denominational terms!!
Everywhere there is worship of anything other than God: music/film stars, causes and activism, expensive "toys." Is the church blind? Shouldn't it grieve us that souls are spending their precious lives on nothing - dust! - that which is here today and gone tomorrow?
4. So what to do?
We need gospel-saturated churches, challenging darkness not with our wits or clever ways but Christ's gospel.
Must be clear about the highness of God in evangelism.
So what are our motivations?
Father, glorify Yourself that You might be known.
I know where history is going, and I want to put my building block to the edifice of the church of Jesus.
To make my life to Your immortal glory!! Even if it is to be a carpet on which souls wipe their feet as they enter the kingdom.
STAND conference is "Stand for the Gospel." The one thing Christians can unite on is the gospel; the one thing Christians can claim any righteousness is the gospel; for the gospel "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16). That is that:
We are all sinners and thus necessarily punishable by a holy and just God.
God sent Jesus, a perfectly righteous Man, to suffer the punishment for sin on our behalf.
Through faith in Christ's atonement and responding in repentance, we can wear the perfect righteousness of Jesus as a free gift of grace, and thus be reconciled to a holy God.
In my previous post I put up the music set list for STAND 2010, a bible conference we hosted at HBC. This was the first time I had been tasked with organising all the music for an event of this size. I’m certain that God really used it as an opportunity to teach all our musicians, sound and media crew on how to use our gifts to better serve the church.
For what it’s worth, here’s some of the things I learned, put into practice, or noticed this year.
1. We can stand firm on solid, Christ-centered singing. I enjoyed choosing and singing songs that proclaimed the gospel with clarity, and was easy to sing. This meant anything from a rocked up arrangement of “Crown Him With Many Crowns”, to a take on Sovereign Grace’s “Let Your Kingdom Come” complete with brass chorus, to a pared back version of the Getty’s “Behold the Lamb” with violins and a piano.
3. Hymns aren’t so bad. Some of the most powerful times of worship was when the music was pared down to just a couple of voices leading the congregation in some classic hymns of the faith. On Saturday morning, we used a mens quartet and an organ to supply the hymns we sang with rich, four-part harmony – something not common in many churches today. The only complaint we had was from people that wanted to hear us sing on our own next time!
4. Committed sound crew are integral to the musicians leading well. On the first night, we had a few problems with balancing the sound for the praise band. To their credit the sound crew (led by Jared Ambrose and Craig Starrenburg) worked hard to balance the sounds from the atypically large team and did a great job in fixing the balance problems. This meant that Saturday night’s music was wholly focused on the singing and the words, and the instruments added colour but didn’t “steal the show” as much.
5. No one worship style is sovereign over our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the whole weekend we deliberately chose a variety of music styles. It’s no problem to have personal preferences – I have my own too! But if we’re uniting on the gospel of first importance (1 Cor 15), then deferring to our brothers and sisters on secondary issues like musical preferences becomes easier. It was heartening to see (and hear) conference attendees sing through a range of Christ-centred songs, whatever the style. No one style can fully capture God’s majesty and glory, and I for one am looking forward to hearing what musical genre our refrains of “Holy Holy Holy” will be in Heaven….
As always the more you do something, the more you’ll learn: that’s certainly true when it comes to leading worship. By God’s grace He’ll continue to refine our ministry and work, so it better glorifies Him – and I’m grateful for that!