Thursday, June 28, 2007

Saddleback Arts Conference Day 2

The day started off with a worship event with a group that I have never heard before called “Generation Unleashed.” If I close my eyes, I could swear that I hear Darlene Zschech and the Hillsong worship team. What a great resource for youth music leaders today. (Jason, you might want to check these guys out. Very engaging with the young folks in the crowd.)

The opening speaker was Erwin McManus with the “Scribble’ team from Mosaic Church in L.A. I had the chance to see them at the Willow Arts Conference a few weeks ago, but still amazing! If only my midwestern mind could understand the “Urban Poetry” of the Scribble team. It’s so outside of my norm that it’s taken me until the second time to fully get it. It’s a good thing they came back to help me understand... What a great team! I can definitely relate with their stage manager throughout the performance. He’s my kind of guy! “Scribble That!”

Abe Laboriel, Shiela E, and a cast of a few other ‘A list’ musicians were on hand for the late morning worship concert, and I know that my good bud Larry Whitcomb wishes he was here. He’s the guy who introduced me to Abe and his music, and what a talent. Larry was right to be amazed. Anyone who can play chords on a 6 string bass while dancing around the stage is ok in my book! We were treated to about a 1 hour concert just before lunch, and as a nod to my sister Julie who is a drummer, female drummers rock! Shiela E was fabulous!

Following lunch at the hot spot of “In-n-Out” burger, and my introduction to the world of animal fries, we headed back to campus for our breakout sessions. Today i was treated to sessions on “singing to your full potential” and “writing chord charts.” Both were exceptional, and there were alot of things that could be implemented at Five Oaks. I had planned on going to a guitar course that was on the idea of unleashing the power of the fretboard, but upon arrival the class was completely filled and a sign on the door posted that we should take off for another class. This allowed me to attend the vocal class, which I was torn to not be able to attend. Good stuff. (I’m going to have to buy the DVD of the guy who was teaching the unlocking the fretboard class though...)

Following the breakouts, we grabbed a quick bite of dinner and ran back as soon as we could to get in line to find seats at the front of the center section for the Lincoln Brewster worship concert. Henry and I waited in line for about 10 minutes, and it was worth it! We ended up in the second row behind two seats that were reserved and ended up being empty for most of the concert. It was like being front row center! The three acts were Human Zero, Vicky Beeching, and Lincoln Brewster. Human Zero really forced my brain into overdrive in one song where the drums played in 4/4 meter and the rest of the band played in 3/4 or 6/8. That was what I call concentration!

Vicky Beeching has a wonderful gift, and what a personable leader she is. Her passion exuded from every ounce of her being throughout the concert. I’m going to have to get Melissa that CD so we can play it around the house.

Lincoln Brewster was all that we hoped for and more. As many of you are aware, we do quite a few of his songs at Five Oaks, and there’s nothing like hearing the songs performed by the original artist. What a gifted leader, singer, and guitar player. I think the thing that he taught me the most tonight is how to lead and live in the contradiction. I’ll have to write more on that later...

We finished the evening with a drive down to Laguna beach and a visit to the “hammer man.” What an interesting individual. We walked up and down the beach for awhile in the pitch black and ran into another couple of conference attenders who were soaking wet from head to toe. Two young guys were so excited about seeing the beach that they just couldn’t contain themselves and just ran into the water. They told us that they were from Kansas, which makes it a little more understood, but I couldn’t help but wonder when the last time I was so excited about something that I just couldn’t contain myself and just ran to it with complete abandon of thought and future consequence.

I think that’s what God wants from us each and every day, but it’s so easy to over rationalize and over-think all of the decisions that we have to make many times each day. I can’t help but wonder how many times God is simply holding out his hands and waiting for us to run into his arms with abandon every day, and we miss it.

The great thing is, He never stops holding out his hands...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Saddleback Arts Conference Day 1

Wow! What’s not to say about this conference!? Great general sessions, meaningful and engaging worship, and well planned breakout groups have made the whole trip worth it. It probably doesn’t hurt that we’re in arguably the greatest city in the world when it comes to weather and temperature, but even that aside it is great to be here.

The day started with possibly the most challenging main session that I have ever been a part of. Rick Warren challenged us all in so many ways as things got started. I agree with a fellow blogger from the conference that if I get nothing else out of this conference, I will be changed. (That won't be an issue though, because there were many other portions of the day that "brought it") We followed the first main session up with an hour long worship session with Tim Hughes, author of a little known song titled, “Here I Am To Worship.”

During the lunch break, we had the opportunity to sit outside and listen to David Pack, who many of you might know from the 80’s with hits like, “Biggest Part of Me.” It was strange to see Henry (my senior pastor) standing up holding a lighter during the visit to the 80's portion of the concert, but I just smiled and realized that some day I will be the one standing up and holding a lighter while somebody sings, "Lord I Lift Your Name On High..." Oh glory!

We came back from lunch and ran up to our breakout sessions. I was able to attend two great breakouts on recruiting worship leaders and leading worship. Many challenges there to cross in time, and many different ideas to apply to my life. Very meaningful.

We broke for dinner and headed to Henry’s favorite Mexican restaurant here in the city for some seafood stew, and what a great find it was. I’m trying to convince him to go back tomorrow, but to many of you who know me, you know it’s never hard to get me to go to a mexican restaurant...

Following dinner, we headed back to the campus for a concert with Tommy Walker, Jonathan Butler, and the Saddleback High School worship team. Jonathan Butler was a great surprise in that I'd never been exposed to him while he worked in the Jazz circuit, but what a talent and worshipping heart. We've got to learn to sing a little like that in the church! I’ve also sung Tommy Walker songs for years now, and I was very excited to see him live, but the high school worship team stole the show. I was watching the worship being offered up from those young hearts and it touched me. It really gave me a better picture of what it is to have a childlike faith and being able to worship to the point of being undignified.

I’ve heard the song by the same title what seems like hundreds of times, but tonight it struck a chord. I could have stood there and watched that high school drummer worship all night. He was a great model for even the most seasoned veteran to experience. Sometimes we can get so used to what we do that we can almost dial it in on command, but he was in it for one reason only, the worship of Jesus. What a testimony while simply playing on the team.

How many of us can say that we’ve had that kind of impact on someone lately because of what we do on Saturday and Sunday? Is there a lesson for all of us that we can learn from a 16 year old about what it’s like to worship with abandon? I know I learned today from him, and I hope it’s contagious!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Saddleback Arts Conference...

To those of you out in blog world who keep up with us through the internet, many of you are probably thinking I live at conferences at the moment. You are partially right, but for the first time in my life I am able to attend worship conferences around the nation. What a great opportunity! I'll post more later about the first day here in California, but what a great opening session! Powerful!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Arts Conference Day 2...

Yet another day at the Willow Creek Arts Conference! Today was the day that we had 4 breakout sessions all over the Willow complex. I started the morning with "Conducting an Effective Technical Rehearsal" and "Spiritually Preparing for Leading Worship." The technical rehearsal breakout was taught by Willow's programming director and their production director. It was quite interesting to see the interaction that these two had in their daily jobs and how different each of their responsibilities were. The latter class was taught by Rory Noland of "Heart of the Artist" authorship. It was great to be able to sit under some great thinkers today. Rory just came out with a book on Spiritual preparation for worship leaders, and today we got to hear about many of the principles in this new work. Some of the other guys sat in breakouts on creativity, intelligent lighting, front of house sound, drama ministry, and a few others.

We learned that the Willow complex is vast and multi-tiered in trying to find each session. I found that it is easiest to completely exit the Willow building to get from one side to the other. The cans of pop and Rice Krispie bars made the trip quite joyful between sessions. It is quite difficult to find others in your group in the midst of 7,000 people wandering around, but thank goodness for texting on cell phones.

Following our Roast Beef sub sandwiches that were provided, we all headed off to the second half of the breakouts. My third class was probably the best for me on the topic of "Continuity Of Design." We basically spent the 90 minutes talking about how to integrate our designs for each message series into all of our communications. Not just making the website match the series, but the entire building and all communicative materials. Definitely something to ponder as time goes by.

The final breakout that we almost all attended was titled, "A Weekend At Grainger." For those of you who don't spend massive amounts of time researching current church practices and who is effective reaching what types of people, Grainger targets their weekend services to 35-55 year old males and is quite successful. You can visit more of what they do by visiting Check out the media player on their site. There is some great stuff there to watch.

We finished our breakout sessions and made our way back to the hotel. After about an hour, we took off towards Giordanno's Chicago Deep Dish Pizzeria to immerse ourselves in the culture of the Windy City. What a great dinner!

We brought back leftovers, but now we're trying to give it away. We are stuffed!

Following dinner, we have continued the tradition of gathering all of the guys in the lobby and working together on creative names for portions of the Five Oaks Worship Arts website and blog. Right now, we just learned that a synonym for information is "hot poop" according to Seriously, check it out for yourself. Unbelievable. Just so you know, I don't think we'll be using that one.

Tomorrow we prepare for the 6 hour drive home, and we look forward to visiting the pink elephant once again. I realized that I didn't explain it earlier in yesterday's post, but when we stopped in Wisconsin to top off the gas tank we found a 12 ft. tall pink elephant next to the pump. Jonathan and Joel took turns posing next to the elephant while we snapped photos, and i'm pretty sure that we are going to hold these pictures over Jonathan's head for quite a while to come. Good times!Have a great weekend everyone!

So, my first Willow Arts Conference ever! I (David) arrived yesterday with my Technical Coordinator Jonathan Haage from Five Oaks. We were privileged to be able to ride with Joel and Kelly from the Constance Free Church ministry and had a delightful chat for the 6 hour drive down. We all met up with our good friend Dan Leverance at the hotel and proceeded to head out to the nearest ColdStone Creamery to help prepare our minds for bed. (I've heard that cookie dough ice cream will do that for you...)

This morning we arrived at Willow to be greeted by around 30 different street musicians all around the Willow campus who were invited to come and play outside of the conference. Cool idea! We were also given a USB wristband as our pass to get in and out of the conference, and it was right then that I knew this conference would be speaking my language. There's nothing that says I Love You like a USB wristband...

We had 3 main sessions today consisting of a National Geographic photojournalist Dewitt Jones, Nancy Beech - Willow's resident worship guru, and the author of a book called "They Like Jesus, but Not the Church" named Dan Kimball. The David Crowder Band led worship for the opening session also, and they are much more exciting in person. Is that even possible? :) I find that they are singable in person since they sing almost everything exactly like their albums. We had a good discussion on this idea following their time of worship with the group we were with.
Interesting discussions through the emerging church debate of the third session, and many different eye opening ideas around the emerging generation of church and secular culture.

We ended up at the end of the day going back for Willow's Wednesday evening Believer's service with worship from the David Crowder Band and the message from the author of the book, "Blue Like Jazz." Great talk from Donald Miller on the idea of narrative and story in and throughout the Bible.

We visited the local Olive Garden for dinner at around 9:15p.m. tonight, and helped close the place down for the night. There's nothing quite like a "Tour of Italy" as you head to bed, but it does inspire new ideas and give you fuel to tackle new ideas.

Last night, the 5 guys from our group from Constance and Five Oaks sat up and brainstormed and worked on a new worship arts blog and website for the Five Oaks worship arts team. We had a meeting last week with the entire team to talk about how to stay connected, and one of the ways that kept coming back to the table was to start a little slice of the web that would be dedicated to news, announcements, what we're thinking, and why we're thinking it. I think it's turning out pretty decent. Joel from Constance came up with the name of "Wires & Plugs" for the technical portion of the site, and it really turned it into something cool. We'll still be working on it throughout the weekend, and we'll see what all we've come up with by the end of the week. We'll keep you posted on how it goes since this is a foray into the unknown for us. There's nothing quite like the ability to learn from other people doing it first, right? A special thanks to the Constance guys (and Dan's nephew Mitch from Michigan) for their help pulling this all together.

More to come from Tuesday's sessions. Tuesday is the day that we all go to different breakout sessions for the day, and i'm sure this will give us great fodder for the new website and blogs. See you tomorrow! D

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

School's out!

Well, I've successfully completed the most stressful week that I can remember. Last week was the last week of school (those of you who are teachers are familiar with all the responsibilities that go with that), my online class started, I took 2 Praxis tests on Saturday (both of which I'm pretty sure I'll be taking again...) we had a worship arts BBQ for probably 30-40 people on Friday night, my parents arrived for their first Minnesota visit on Thursday evening, and a tree fell in our backyard on Thursday (giving us less than 24 hours to remove before the BBQ). I'm glad that is all finally behind me and I've been able to successfully sleep again.

I wanted to post a few pictures of the fun we had with my parents. Dad got recruited to play with the worship team last weekend, so he got a little taste of what it's like to participate in 4 services on a weekend.

Sunday afternoon we all went to Como zoo and left just a little depressed.
We'd never been before; we just knew it would be cheap entertainment since they only ask for a $2 donation. Personally I'd rather spend a little more on admission if it meant a little better life for the animals. The two polar bears had severe cases of OCD; one pacing back and forth repeatedly, and the other swimming laps in about a 10 foot pool back and forth, over and over, and over again.

After the zoo we went to Mickey's Diner in St. Paul for dinner. David and I had been there before with Pastor Henry and we knew we had to take the parents to dine at this St. Paul landmark. It was MUCH less busy than when we were there with Henry. The food was great and you really can't beat the atmosphere or the extreme personalities of those who work there:-)

Once our tummies were full we continued westward to show Mom and Dad the Minnehaha Falls. This was one of the stops on Dan and Angie's "Two hour tour of the Twin Cities" they gave us last year when we were interviewing for the job at Five Oaks. It was a nice day for a walk through the park to see the falls, and the walk up the steps once we were finished wasn't quite as bad as I remembered it.

Thanks Mom and Dad for the visit! We had a great time!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Better late than never

I truly intended to blog all of this last weekend, but my busy schedule got the best of me. Here it is the following Sunday night, but I figure better late than never.

You might have already read a little bit about our evening with Dan and Angie Leverence on their blog (for those of you that follow Dangie), but here are a few pictures from the evening. Sorry the quality isn't so good....I don't know what was up with the camera that night. They all turned out kind of poor.

Anyway, we had a really fun time going out to dinner at Matt's Bar to dine on the best hamburger in Minneapolis, the Juicy Lucy. After that we strolled through a park for a little bit and then made our way downtown to Rossi's for dessert and some fine jazz music.