NYWC St Louis Saturday 3 November
General Session #3: Matt Maher, Lynne Hybels, Shane & Shane

Seminar #3: Intro to Creative & Contemplative Prayer Practices
Jeannie Oestreicher & Larry Warner

General Session #4: Matt Maher, Family Force 5, Doug Fields, Michelle from Compassion

One of the best things about Anaheim in 2004 was the presence of both Crowder and Tomlin. Even though the more days that pass, the more lustre wears off this experience, I have an enormous respect and empathic connection to Tomlin as a worship leader.

Confession: I find singing worship hard at the best of times. I am a singing worship leader in my church and I know that’s it’s practically a sin, but to be honest – there are just so many other ways I connect in meaningful and engaging worship than singing. So musical connections like Crowder and Tomlin are rare.. because I find myself easily engaged in a genuine worshipful response, rather than stadium enthusiasm.

So I haven’t been finding it easy to retrain my brain into learning new songs and connecting with music worship through a variety of brand new worship leaders. I struggled a little bit with Matt Maher through both sessions, although I certainly appreciated the context and content, but I found myself constantly engaging with my own internal dialogue to the detriment of my intentionality within corporate worship. No big deal. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes I just feel self-conscious of my own voice too. Sometimes, I really do just like to listen to people singing together.

Lynne Hybels in the General Session carried her insecurities on her sleeve. I thought she had some great content and her story was engaging, if a little long. I was a little horrified at the number of people that were leaving throughout the message but I’m putting this down to the specificity of her message. It was very feminine in language and referenced Bill Hybels so regularly and familiarly that it was almost as if the expectation was that ‘everybody’ knew who Bill was. An interesting assumption in a room full of youthworkers from all kinds of denominational, regional and local backgrounds.

I found myself asking the question, “is this really how Lynne would tell her story, if she was just talking to an old friend?”. Not that we should always operate with that level of disclosure, but I think she was overwhelmingly more comfortable with the words on the page written, than the words being spoken out from her lips. It made me angry and disappointed that more people didn’t respect what she was offering of herself to the table by walking away.

One day we’ll move beyond the discomfort and difficulty we have with relating to bi-gendered images of God. So I listened, and stored up what Lynne was saying about identity. It echoed in my soul later in the day.

Creative…It was a great session with Jeannie and Larry in the afternoon. The right mix of content, application and practical exposure – I was expecting to experiment and there was some. I think my favourite exercise was Flash Prayer – praying for what you see, literally what’s flashing before your eyes. The group split to two sides of the hall, and walked to the other side, meshing together before separating again. The second time we crossed the hall, we were instructed to pray for the people who we sensed a connection with, either by gut or eye contact. We all slowed down, paying more attention to what was going on.
Standout Observations: Prayer is really more than a dialogue or conversation. It’s communion in such a way that you begin to recognise and look for God’s fingerprints in everything. None of the images we have of God are complete but the important thing is to constantly be asking the question of how everyday life teaches us about ourselves and God.

General Session #4. Wow. I am buying this MP3 of Doug Fields last night and distributing it to everyone I know. It was honest, disruptive, intense, brutal and really important. In addressing the issue of ministry envy and the destructive power it holds in so many lives because of it’s secrecy .. I think I grew to respect Fields more than I have ever bothered to think about before. So it was a good thing. He was very honest about his own struggles, and practical about the implications of this on our own ministries. For me, this is a struggle as I daily deal with people who are employed to do what I’m passionate about and good at.. and I’m not. Sure, I’m not sure if I’d want to be, but there is envy in the fact that their pathway is at least a little more known. All I know about my own path, is that it’s going to be different. I have to trust God in my future all the more, yet I’m envious of those that have what I don’t have or want because I’m not sure of what’s I’m getting. Yup. Brilliant.

Fatherless. Ugly, destined to be just like the father I look so much like. When Michelle from the Philippines took the stage and spoke so compellingly of the difference Compassion sponsorship has made in her life, I was typically moved to tears. However, when she told the story of her father’s abuse and sharp exit from her life, the subsequent suffering within her family as she was referenced to be her father’s child.. ugly and just like him. Yet she lived fatherless. She was robbed of her identity as a child of poverty, and then robbed of it again by what identity she had being corrupted by other people’s cruelty. But she was telling my story. Is it arrogant of me to claim a kinship with her .. probably, but I will anyway, because we are sisters in redemption.

Late Night Conversations: Family Force 5 are a phenomenal band. I haven’t seen such stage presence or compelling performance since the early Earthsuit days, when we took sheeo onstage and such. Plus they have catchy little numbers. They totally need to play Festival or something. Speaking with Michael from Lost and Found was grand also. I have enjoyed the opportunity to make conversation with all sorts of people in strange ways.

What do you think?