By Steven Reed
It’s worship conference time. But why go and how do you get the most out of your investment? The following are 4 basic things that you should take away from any conference, as well as some friendly advise on how getting together with a lot of other worship leaders can be amazing.
Worship conferences are a moment in time to look up from what you’ve been doing and see what’s out there. At very least by the end of the week you should be excited to put all that you’ve learned into practice and be rekindled in your passion for leading people to worship. It can be like a big pep rally that fills you with inspiration if approached correctly.
The key is not get overwhelmed – you will see people that are doing things beyond your ability, budget, or resources and while that’s inspiring to some, for others it’s deflating. Don’t let yourself think about where you are not, but instead always be looking for how do I get to where I need to go next.
The second tip is to not be overly critical – if you are regular reader of these newsletters you know that people have a wide range of ideas of how to lead worship. Guaranteed you just wont agree with everything and everyone. While it is important to judge what you hear, if you become overly critical you will close yourself off completely, even to the things that could be helpful. So you don’t have to accept everything that is offered but as my pastor always tells us before a conference, “Be wise as an old horse; eat the hay and spit out the sticks.”
You are not alone; even though many worship leaders that we’ve met feel that way some times. Being at a conference will hundreds of other people just like you, can provide valuable insight and encouragement for shared challenges. We are all in this together.
This time of community, however, doesn’t just happen unless you purpose to connect – it too easy to attend a conference in isolation, wear your name badge under your jacket, and miss out on wonderful friendships with people just like you. Purpose to meet people around you during meals, before and after workshops, and any time you can to see if there is a connection.
The other way to connect is with your own team. You serve together every week but do you know them? Do know they know each other? Conferences are a wonderful opportunity to be in the same place for more than a few hours a week – it can strengthen you as a team. If you bring your team take time everyday of the conference to sit down together and talk about what they saw, what they learned, what challenged them, ask them how what they have seen relates to the vision of your church – share a meal everyday and find something fun to do while you are in the location.
Wonderful times of refreshing come in the presence of the lord and conferences provide a great opportunity to worship without having to be the leader. Maybe it should go without saying that you should spend time worshiping at a worship conference but it’s imperative to spend some time remembering why you do what you do – because you love to worship.
What may be crazy to know is that it’s often a challenge to get worship leaders to worship – why? Because they are leaders and most leaders are not quick to follow. While the mark of a great leader is their ability to lead leaders, you simply can’t rely on the skill of the leader to get you to participate. At some point you will simply have to make a conscious choice to shut down the leader/analyzer mode and dive into the presence of God whether or not the person leading is doing it how you would.
Conferences are a great way to help worship leaders get better at what they do. This comes from worship leaders speaking into your life and ministry through general sessions, topic specific breakout sessions, as well product demonstration.
Without a doubt conferences have a wealth of valuable information and helpful advice, however, the challenge is to not get overwhelmed by it all and then lose your inspiration and motivation as you just don’t know what do. I suggest that you go into the conference purposing to find 5 specific things that you can apply right away and let the Lord reveal them to you as you are inundated with information. Grab hold of what you need now and let the other stuff be for later or for someone else. Go back and share them with your pastor and then put them in place.
These are just a few thoughts and pointers that are only meant to start a discussion, so please leave your favorite part of attending a conference in the comment section. We are all in this together so let’s help each other get God’s best.
*editor’s note: If you are interested in a conference designed for worship teams, Worship Leader puts on the National Worship Leader Conference. Find the dates and locations here.
Steve and his wife, Shawn, travel full time to serve the body of Christ in the area of worship. They lead worship, compose and record, provide personalized on-site training for teams and churches, and teach on the subject of worship in English and Spanish.