Tag Archives: worship music

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!

——————

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 

————————
– William Chong

US Holiday/WG11 Conference – mission-focused meetings, instrument shopping, Sunday meeting

Mission-focused meetings

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The final day of WorshipGod 11 had one last session, capping off a wonderful end to a wonderful few days. Craig Cabaniss taught us from 1 Peter 2:9, and cautioned against seeing our worship gatherings as a complete break from “the real mission” out there, and showing from Scripture that there is to some extent a proclamation of the gospel even in the way we meet, so that unbelievers would see that God is among us:

“Our gospel witness is amplified when the people of God gather in the presence of God to proclaim to the excellencies of God.” – Craig Cabaniss, WorshipGod 11

(Note: You can listen to the MP3 of the message here)

Just before the conclusion of the conference, Bob sang a spontaneous song to encourage the younger attendees (here’s the video).

And at the very end, we were advised: “Please don’t try to apply everything you’ve learnt on your first week back!”

Instrument shopping

After lunch, we went shopping for musical instruments. Cheryl bought a mandolin, while I got an acoustic guitar. Instruments are much cheaper here than in NZ, so hopefully this guitar will better serve our church when I’m playing guitar in future. Lord willing we may see a mandolin being played one Sunday morning in the future!

People

We have met so many kind and generous people that it’s hard to know where to start. But here are a few we remember:

  • Joseph is a 17-year-old from Germantown who attends Covenant Life Church. He seemed to exemplify a young man who acts and talks as if Christ is his life – he is about to start university this year. I (William) had the joy of singing alongside him in the conference choir as well as the live album session. He is the sort of person that writes Galatians 2:20 on the front of his shoes so he’s always reminded whenever he looks where he’s walking that he has “been crucified with Christ”. Check out his blog here: http://next–generation.blogspot.com/
  • Randall has served as worship pastor at Cherrydale Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia for a number of years. He was very gracious to us and we enjoyed having lunch with him and talking about the Baptist denomination and other issues. We’re praying for him and his church as they are going through some contentious issues with their congregational-governed membership.
  • Amy is a young woman who recently had to quit her job because it couldn’t even pay for the petrol it takes to get there. She goes to the Sovereign Grace church led by Craig Cabaniss in Anna, Texas – and we are praying that she would be able to get a job soon as a vet assistant.

We’ve been so blessed to meet and get to know so many like-minded lovers/followers of Christ.

Next: Covenant life, tears, crepe and goodbyes, Giant groceries

——————

Update (26/08/2011): 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  

————————

– William

US Holiday/WG11 Conference – edify, songwrite, organise, gather live

Day 3 of WorshipGod 11. One general session, two more seminars, and an evening of singing for a live album recording. We worship a generous King, showering kindness on us!

Edify

For the morning session, the worship was led by Sojourn Music. Their songs have a unique indie-folk sound to their songs, and lead using a neoliturgical style, incorporating elements such as responsive reading and structuring the songs using the gospel (from adoration, to confession of sin, to the work of Christ, to assurance of peace etc.) Very fascinating and fresh take on many of Isaac Watt’s hymns. I would particularly commend the song “Absent From Flesh” from their latest album, The Water and the Blood.

This morning, Bob Kauflin taught from 1 Corinthians 14:1-33. Rather than explain a particular view of spiritual gifts, he tried to show that the Apostle Paul’s main idea through this passage is to encourage the divided, self-centred Corinthian church to ensure that what we do in our gatherings edify, or build up each other. Not only that, God is the one who edifies His church when we gather. Another helpful message with very practical implications on how we organise our church services – for example, do we provide some way for the congregation to build each other up (whether planned or spontaneous)?

(Note: You can listen to the MP3 of the message here)

After the morning session, Cheryl attended two more workshops on sound engineering topics, while William went to two others:

Songwrite

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In a seminar titled “What Makes These Songs Great?”, Steve and Vikki Cook (writers of memorable songs like “Glories of Calvary”) walked through the melodic and lyrical features that help to make a worship song that stands the test of time. I found it helpful as it was the first teaching on songwriting I’d heard that pursued musical and lyric excellence not for it’s own sake, but so that it better communicates and shares the life-giving message of Jesus. It’s also sparked a dormant interest in my own feeble attempts and songwriting.

Organise

In this seminar, Ken Boer (Music Director at Covenant Life Church) gave helpful principles and ideas for how to organise a growing ministry team – this was very practical and covered things like personal productivity and organisation, timekeeping, team organisation, and leadership of ministry teams. I hope there’s things I can learn from this to better serve our teams back at Howick Baptist.

Gather live

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Recording the live album was fantastic. We sang through fifteen songs that trace the shape of a corporate gathering. The songs went from adoration, to confession of sin, to proclaiming the work of Christ, to assurance in our struggles, to preparing for the preaching of the Word, to remembering the Lord’s Table, to a sending off/benediction.

(Here’s a video of us recording/singing one of the new songs, “Generous King”)


The music was tight, the lyrics we were singing were all gospel-focused and gave truth in fresh words and phrases. My voice became really hoarse from singing praises to God so much. I kept thinking, imagine how wonderful it will be in Heaven to have glorified bodies to not only have the desire, but also the ability to praise the Lamb upon the throne forever!

We’re looking forward to when the CD comes out, approximately in November. In addition, they recorded lots of footage on camera so there will likely be video as well. How exciting that this could help to spread gospel-rich, life-changing songs!

Next: mission-focused meetings, instrument shopping, Sunday meeting

————————–

Update (26/08/2011): 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  

————————

– William

US Holiday/WG11 Conference – rehearse, seminars, NZ connection, Enfield, Thabite

Day 2 of WorshipGod 11.

A full day of 2 general sessions and 2 seminars, as well as dinner with a family with strong NZ connections. Wow, thank you Lord for such an amazing day!

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Rehearse

There was some more comedy from Mark Altrogge in the morning (it seems like a WorshipGod thing for Mark to encourage and make us laugh with the things he says!)

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Rich Gunderlock and the Bairds led us in singing this morning. This included some songs they had written, including “Completely Done”. I appreciated the way they pointed to Jesus through singing, praying, Scripture reading and words of encouragement.

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The teaching this morning was from Bryan Chapell. He’s written a book called “Christ-centered Worship” which I’ve bought, look forward to reading it soon!

Bryan Chapell taught from Isaiah 6 as a picture or rehearsal of the gospel, and how it can inform the way our services can similarly help us to rehearse the gospel progression: from glory, to grace, to mission.

(Note: You can listen to the MP3 of the message here)

Seminars

We split up and attended two seminars during the afternoon.

William
The first one (run by Bob) covered principles and suggestions when thinking through how to choose songs. There were plenty of really good ideas and things to consider – will be looking forward to see how to apply them when I’m choosing songs in the future.

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The next seminar was even more interesting – a few worship bands signed up to play a song each. Bob gave feedback, encouragement and constructive feedback. What was particularly valuable was some of the comments about band dynamics, voicing, arrangements etc that Bob gave from his accumulated experience with contemporary praise bands.

Cheryl
Two workshops by Doug Gould, a sound technician at Covenant Life Church, were very helpful. Lots of good explanations for how to reduce stage noise, how different types of microphones work and what they’re useful for, and more. These are workshops and learnings our own sound engineers at HBC would be blessed by.

Thabite

For the evening session, Thabite Anyawile – the Caribbean Spurgeon – brought the Word to us from 1 Timothy 4, emphasizing that the Word of God is to be central in our preaching. I would recommend this message in particular to both pastors and worship leaders, as there are principles and applications for both. If the Word is to be central in our gatherings, both should be on the same page!

(Note: You can listen to the MP3 of the message here)

——————–

Some miscellaneous highlights:

    • The worship in song tonight was led by Enfield – and the energy and zeal they had was AWESOME!

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  • We got to have dinner with a family who have a special love for New Zealand. Susan Perdue spent some time in Taranaki as an exchange student in NZ, and still have special connections with her adopted parents that she stayed with. Philip and Susan have three children who are all very talented musicians – their eldest son, Chris, showed me his mandolin – what a neat instrument!

 

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  • It’s a fascinating experience being in a church where there’s a traffic cop to direct traffic in, and where there’s traffic jams after each session. wow.

 

Next: More seminars, Joseph, Live album recording

——————

Update (26/08/2011): 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  

————————

– William

 

US Holiday/WG11 Conference – fly, land, drive

Reflections on our trip so far – exhausting and exhilarating! And the conference hasn’t even started yet!

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Fly

Flying in basically seemed like an extra long day (since we crossed the dateline)… it’s the furthest from home both of us have ever been. We flew on Virgin Airways, which was the cheapest option. It also meant three separate flights – Auckland to Sydney, Sydney to LA, LA to Washington. We tried to sleep on the Sydney-LA flight – not much success thanks to our body clocks. at the inflight entertainment was pretty good though. Also got some long-awaited reading done, started on Dr Edgar Andrew’s very well-written “Who Made God”, and continuing through “Worship by the Book” edited by DA Carson.

Land

We landed in Dulles International Airport (just outside Washington DC), and from there had to go pick up our rental car at 9pm, foreign country, and all the roads were back to front. Initially our idea was to pick up a US SIM card and then use my mobile phone’s GPS. Unfortunately that became out of the question once we realised that no one sells SIMs around here! After being stung with extra insurance costs and GPS hire charges (doubling our original online quote) – I (William) got behind the wheel and started our 40 minute drive from the airport to the host home.

Drive

OK. I will not lie – driving on the other side of the road is terrifying. I’m used to trying to adjust to the centre lane on my right, and looking out for the blind spot on my right before changing lanes. Now all this is on my left… it’s freaky. Still not used to it. Please pray for us when we are driving, we would love to see you all again!

The GPS was so helpful though – told us exactly which lanes to take and so on. We eventually made it to our host home in Clarksburg, Maryland, and were welcomed by Peter and Sherly Giglio (“JHEE-leeo”, not Gig-leo). They’ve been such wonderful hosts so far – they have about 6 other guests with them and are just very casual and welcoming about it all. Such hospitable people! Sherly’s testimony of coming to salvation in Jesus Christ was so wonderful to hear as well.

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Got to our rooms and finally got to lie down on a comfy, American bed after over 24 hours and crossing 17 hours’ worth of timezones!

Some miscellaneous thoughts so far:

  • Every American we have met so far has been very friendly. I wonder if it’s our Kiwi accents.
  • Speaking of accents, I can feel mine starting to slip already (I’m notoriously chameleon-like with my speaking accent, it changes very quickly to the environment I’m in. Sorry in advance when I get back and it’s all muddled up!)
  • it’s hot here. It’s almost as humid and tropical-feeling as our last trip to Kuching, Malaysia!
  • yes, the toilets flush the other way. It is very bewildering.
  • Driving in miles per hour isn’t too difficult – you can “feel” the km/h equivalent
  • While I think we were overcharged a fair bit with our car rental, at least we got a Lincoln MKZ out of it (complimentary upgrade).

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Thanks to God! We’re safe, no travelly effects (except for some jet lag), driving was OK, and everyone so far has been very friendy to us!

Next update: Whistlestop Capitol tour, Merthyr Tydfil Wales, Bolivian steaks, Es tu Gracia!

Update: 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  

————————
– William Chong