My Christianity Today write-up of the Crowder conference

Lots of lite brites

My write-up of Crowder's Fantastical Church Music Conference is up at CT, "Like A Sloppy Wet Kiss."

"You know you are at a worship conference sponsored by David Crowder when a fog machine kicks in and gobo lights wash the stage in color while the Welcome Wagon sings an exquisitely spare version of "Hail to the Lord's Anointed." It makes you wonder what the Moravian James Montgomery (1771-1854), author of the hymn, would have thought...."

For more, see here.

As with all such write-ups, I was not able to say everything I might wish to say. A few of those things include the following. 

One, I was honored to share the panel session with Bob Kauflin. What a great guy. I really wish I'd had more time with him. (See here his thoughts on the conference.)

Two, I use the term contemporary worship music in a restrictive sense. I use it largely to describe pop-rock and folk music coming out of evangelical circles. The fact is, Dan Schutte (Catholic), Brian Wren (mainline Protestant) and James MacMillan (Scottish classical composer) all create contemporary worship music, if by that we mean music written today in service of the church's worship. For that matter, so are Laila Constantine of Lebanon, who authored a haunting version of the Lord's Prayer, and Munkherdene Banzrageh of Mongolia, who penned "Holy Gift of Love" (see here for details).

Three, my impression is that the biggest percentage of church denomination represented at the conference was the non-denom churches. Very interesting.

Four, all quotes are paraphrases or near-verbatim citations. I tried to get statements as accurately as possible. Apologies if I didn't and I'd be happy to be corrected.

Five, here's a great quote from Matt Redman, whom I discovered to be a considerably funny man.

"Matt Maher is like a Rachmaninov and I’m like a musical ape. Matt, well, it's like he ate the Pope. He’s got so much inside of him to work with."

Six, I couldn't post a lot of photo and video material, so I'm going to do that here. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference, I am grateful for Crowder's invitation and all the stimulating conversations with participating musicians, and I had a ball leading a workshop on the Psalter and CWM. I look forward to seeing what comes of it all. Click on pics if you want a larger version. Apologies for the blurry video on some; I had an itsy bitsy camera to work with.

Oh, one more thing, David Crowder is tall.

Francis Chan (aka the Hulk)
Paper Route: rockers extraordinaire
Josh Banner, Derek Webb, me and David Crowder

Panel peeps: Peacock, Dark, Haseltine, Kauflin, Redman and Crowder

Hillsong London
Mister BiFrost Arts himself

Mike Crawford: a brite light

The man

Gungor music

Paper Route music

Panel "music"

Israel Houghton music

Hillsong London music

The David Crowder Band music

BiFrost Arts music

John Mark McMillan's non-sloppy wet kiss music


kelly said…
Nice article, David. I like the way you framed it: acknowledging the stereotypes of this crowd then recognizing that they are not entirely accurate and that there is much hope to be found in the world of contemporary worship musicians.

"I found a lot of songwriters who humbly seek to provide the church with good worship music." This was really good to hear and it's nice to know people are getting together and dealing with these topics seriously, thoughtfully, and in community. It's not a world I know a lot about. It's good to know from a distance that good things are happening in it.

Did you get to see John Mark McMillan perform? I've found he speaks my musical and lyrical language more than any other CWM people I've come across. In other words, he rocks.

I'm surprised, though, that CT didn't make you change the title of your article to 'Like an Unforseen Kiss'. ;-)
Kelly, I just told a friend here that the older I get the less cynical I become. Cynicism wears me out. Granted, there was plenty at the conference that I wish had been different, e.g., more women on the platform, more ethnic "color," more global church, more denominational representation, more musical variety, more of a sense of the church's history and of the heritage of church musicians.

But then again, I know that very similar charges could be made of the conference I organized two years ago. As an organizer you make the best of what you know and of the resources that are available to you. That, I think, is what Crowder did. He made the best of it and he pushed his musical community and culture beyond its comfort zone. Certainly putting David Dark and Francis Chan on the same stage accomplished that aim.

For the record, I was genuinely encouraged by what I saw and heard. There is much to hope for.

I did see JMM perform. I'll go ahead and upload a video from his sloppy wet kiss song. I had a chance to chat with him briefly and found him to be a thoughtful young man. He lives just down the road from me, so I may drop in on his church one of these days. We'll see.

And he too is very, very tall.
The CT link is down David. Hopefully they have it back up soon. I was at the conference with a friend of mine who is reading your book and he found out after the panel who that was on the far left. He was upset he didn't figure it out sooner. Kind of funny.

Mark Wampler
Mark, I'm not sure what the problem is with the link. I've emailed the editors at CT to find out. Hopefully it'll be up soon. Thanks for checking in and I'm sorry the absence of a beard threw your friend off. The beard will be back.
daniel said…
I read your article at CT and more than anything, I really appreciated your engagement with your own cynicism. I hope that as I get older, I am able to be be less cynical just as you commented here earlier.

Had I been at such a conference, I would have liked to make the plea for a move away from the "Jesus is all I need" sentimentality. It's clear from Scripture and life that we were made to live in community and that the community is exceedingly important in the history of God in the world. I'm looking forward to the day when the songs we communally sing reflect that more than they do least in the part of the world where I live.
Daniel, thank you. I'm with you in spirit. We'll keep hoping for the best for Christ's church and doing our little part to serve her well.
Jay Davis said…
THE UPPER ROOM DEVOTIONAL - I thought was fitting for your blog...
The psalmist wrote, "I will sing and make music."
- Psalm 57:7 (NIV)

ONE morning after Daddy's funeral, when I was back home again, I found myself lost in sorrow during my prayer time, staring mutely at the wall. As I relived the events of the preceding week and the many acts of kindness shown to our family, I suddenly wished for a way besides a card to express my gratitude to my parents' pastor and a few extraordinarily helpful neighbors.

I decided to make personalized, handmade gifts for each of them. While working on the gifts the next several days, I found that instead of being lost in sorrow I was caught up in prayerful creativity. My mood improved dramatically, and by the time I took my offerings to the post office, I felt deeply comforted.

Now I recall this incident each time I read Psalm 57, written while its author was hiding in a cave, fearing for his life. David -- the shepherd, the warrior, the king -- was also a poet and a musician. Doubtless, his "song in the dark" provided peace and reassurance to him, and now it does the same for us. It also reminds us that we all possess some creative ability, in music or handicrafts, in homemaking or business, that we can consecrate to God and use for the good of others. When we employ these skills -- especially as we suffer through crisis and loss -- we may find ourselves surprisingly encouraged.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to use our talents to bless others, even when we are hurting. Amen.

List three of your talents and skills. Beside each one, list a way to use that skill for others.

by Deanna Overstreet (New Mexico, USA)


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