In September, I had the opportunity to go to a conference in Nashville, TN. Sing! is presented annually by Keith and Kristyn Getty for pastors and worship leaders, and thankfully this year I was able to attend. This year's focus was on the Psalms.
Honestly, I cannot remember every aspect of the conference because there were so many parts, but I enjoyed myself and wanted to take just a moment to share three things I learned from this experience.
The Word of God (in this case the Psalms) is a vital part of our Christian walk.
First, I was reminded of 2 Timothy 3:16, that “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In the area of worship, the Psalms are such an awesome resource for our daily lives because they are songs and prayers themselves. Through study and reflection, we find prayers of exaltation, lament, and confession, to name a few. Within this book, there are prayers and songs which help point our attention to God, directing us to bless the Lord, lift high His name, and point our gaze to the Author and Creator of all in every situation. There are Psalms which were written as responses to hearts broken over hidden sins brought to the surface. There are also Psalms written in very low times, when the writers, especially David, were walking through dark valleys and called out for God's provision, protection, and salvation. These Psalms teach us how to pray, worship, and even sing in every season of our lives. In times when we ourselves don't have the words, we can turn to God's Word to direct our hearts to pray in certain ways.
As worship leaders, we should strive to make better quality music for worship.
Two of my breakout sessions really encouraged and convicted me to make (and lead) better quality music. I don't claim to be a songwriter, but I have attempted to write some songs in the past. (If I depended on my songwriting to make ends meet, most likely I'd be a starving artist) I enjoy it, but usually I don't feel that it is good, therefore I put my music to the side, and leave it for others to write.
The two breakout sessions dealt with songwriting in general and with writing songs closely from Psalms and scripture, in order to learn and teach scripture to your congregation. I was encouraged because my choices for the songs we use in worship are tied to the scripture we study in our worship services. It is a good start for us, as we use these songs to point us to the scripture. I was convicted because all of the presenters urge us to take it a step further to write and sing songs directly written from scripture. This helps the congregation, from young to old, to hide God's Word in their hearts. I need to do a better job of searching for and writing songs to use strictly for the purpose of scripture memorization. Lastly, I was convicted to write more music, even when I don't think my songs are good enough. How will I ever get better if I don't write and sharpen my craft?
Community is important to every believer, especially ministers. Also, it is good to reconnect with friends.
I have been to several conferences during my time as a minister. Sometimes I have gone to conferences where I knew no one, and other times I have known a handful of people. This conference was different because I saw several people who I knew, from former classmates and friends, to professors, and so on. Though some of these folks were close friends and colleagues in the past, we have moved to various cities; still, we are serving in similar ministries. I am so thankful for the conversations that I had with my friends while at the conference. It was awesome to see how the Lord is using them in their individual ministries and how he is blessing and growing their families. Conferences also cultivate a space to have real conversations that let us know that what we are experiencing in ministry is not unique to us alone, but we have brothers and sisters in Christ who are fighting the good fight along with us. It makes me think of Philippians 1:3-6, because just like Paul, I give thanks for my brothers and sisters that have surrendered their lives to follow Christ, and continue to make every effort to serve the Lord daily in ministry.
I know this is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my experience with the Sing! Conference, but it is at least a start to my processing and reflection of this wonderful week. I hope the Lord will give you opportunities in the coming days to experience Him through His Word, through the singing of musical prayers, and through community. I hope you will be refreshed in your walk, and in turn, allow Jesus Christ to make an impact for His kingdom through your willingness to serve.