US Holiday/WG11 Conference – DC take 2, travelling back, final reflections

DC take 2

We spent another day visiting Washington DC, the capital of the US. We got to see the US Capitol Building, didn’t end up doing the visitor’s tour because of their inconvenient security requirements (no water bottles, even if they’re empty!)

A real highlight was visiting the Library of Congress (first seen in the film National Treasure 2), and the collection of wisdom located there. We expressed some sadness as we In this Library at least, we were seeing wisdom being prized and idolised for its own sake – not acknowledging that it comes through a gracious God (James 1:5, Proverbs 1:7), and is fulfilled in Christ (1 Cor 1:30).

The Library of Congress did have a perfect copy of a Gutenberg Bible on display, which was pretty neat.

At the end of the day, we still didn’t get enough time to see everything else D.C. had to offer – there was just too much do to, and not enough time!

Travelling home

It was less stressful travelling home. By now we’d gotten the hang of driving on the right side of the road, as well as using the GPS navigation system. Driving back to the airport was the most hilarious part, as the GPS kindly took us through some scenic country route which included a ride on a historic ferry crossing. Picture us driving in our car, and then hearing the voice on the GPS say, “Take a right turn. Then board ferry.” It was a brief moment of sheer panic, then sheer hilarity ensued! Grateful to God for even small memories like this.

Flying back was easier this time – no delays, our luggage was checked all the way through, and we got to bring our guitar and mandolin through customs without any problems! Our friend who had been house-sitting picked us up and we enjoyed reacquainting ourselves with NZ again.

Auckland, New Zealand

It’s good to be home!!!!

Now that we’re back…

So it’s been a few weeks now since the conference, and we’re back in our day-to-day lives. Could we sum up what we’ve learnt and experienced? I don’t know – it seems like an impossible task!

In the meantime, what we did do was share with our church family a summary of our time there. Our pastor Joe did a short interview with us, this is kind of what the exchange covered (in more detail here):

Q1. Of all the conferences out there, why this one?

The theme of this conference sold it to us, as it’s a question I’ve been seeking to learn and understand for awhile now: why do we meet together as Christians, and what should it involve? This is how the conference is described on their website:

Bryan Chapell says, “Where the gospel is honoured, it shapes worship.” That statement has proven true for as long as Christians have been meeting. Every meeting tells a story, and the story we’re supposed to be telling is clear. We gather to rehearse, celebrate, and respond to the gospel of the crucified and risen Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, we wanted to go to this conference to be better equipped to serve our church family – but also learn ways in which we as a church can better take part in serving each other when we meet together.

Q2. What was the overall format of the conference?

The Conference was 4 days.

There were 1 or 2 main sessions each day which was led by various bands from Sovereign Grace Churches, Grace Community Church, and Sojourn Community Church. we worshipped in song, Scripture reading, prayer, and hearing Gods Word preached by Ray Ortlund, Bryan Chapell, Thabiti Anyabwile, Bob Kauflin and Craig Cabaniss. They each taught about a different facet to what Christians should do when we meet together.

On some of the days we got to attend more specific training seminars. There were ones for worship leaders, singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, sound crew, choir directors… and some just for any worshipper (e.g. praying, simplifying your spiritual life). Basically anything to do with helping Christians to better worship God.

And we also got to sing in a conference choir together for one of the sessions, and sing in a live album recording, with new songs written around the different reasons why we meet together as Christians.

Q3. What’s something from the General Sessions that has left a profound effect on your heart & mind?
All of it left a profound effect!! These were messages that any worshipper of God will benefit and be encouraged by, and can be found on the Sovereign Grace Ministries website.

But I guess to sum the five messages up:

1. Our meeting together is more than just good teaching with application, but it’s a supernatural, miraculous event where Jesus is displayed as glorious and, transforms us into His likeness.
2. Our meeting together is more than just an ad hoc order of service, but a time to rehearse the gospel in everything we do.
3. Our meeting together is not about what we want to teach or accomplish, but submitting ourselves to God’s Word and what He wants to teach and accomplish in His church.
4. Our meeting together is not only about our individual relationship with God, but a time to serve one another and build each other up through Christ.
5. Our meeting together is not the pause button or escape for our mission – but part of our mission in proclaiming Christ to a dying world.

Oh, and, I loved the reminder from Thabiti during his talk: “if you have a public role, at some point you’re going to do something stupid.” – that humbles us!

Q4. William & Cheryl: You both attended different workshops; give us two principles or concepts that your found particularly helpful/practical.

Worship leading: Lots of useful tips and practical ways to magnify the gospel when we meet together. From what to say between songs, during songs, how to choose songs, how NOT to choose songs. But probably a memorable principle was from Bob at the very end – “Don’t try to do everything you’ve learnt in the first week back!”

Sound seminars: So much helpful technical stuff for me (Cheryl) personally, but one principle – the sound volunteer’s main focus is to facilitate relationship-building between the church and God, the church and each other. Any tweaks, changes we make technically are secondary to our relationship with others, and building each other up in Christ (Eph 4:29).

Q5. Any other thoughts?

Most importantly, we want to thank you (our church family) all for your prayers and encouragement – we’re so thankful to God for granting us the opportunity to go. Everything we’ve learnt has impacted and changed us, and will hopefully bear fruit in our life and service, benefit us as a church family, and glorify our Saviour for years to come.

Over the next weeks we plan to share more specific things that we’ve learnt with the musicians and the wider church body, and by God’s grace hopefully He’ll grow our church in the area of worship. Thanks for following our journey!

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Here’s the full series of our time in the USA.

Part 1: Fly, land, drive
Part 2: train, jam, steak
Part 3: sing, meet, glory
Part 4: rehearse, seminars, NZ connection, Thabiti
Part 5: edify, songwrite, organise, gather live
Part 6: mission-focused meetings, instrument shopping
Part 7: Covenant Life, tears, crepes and goodbyes, Giant groceries
Part 8: DC take 2, travelling back, final reflections 

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– William Chong

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