Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crowder's Fantastical Church Music Conference

At the end of September, my wife and I (and baby Arwen) will be travelling to Waco, Texas to attend David Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference. This is a conference that seems a little outside of the box, which I really like. But ultimately there are 3 things that really drew me to the conference. 1) It is a conference on church music 2) The amazing line-up of speakers and artists 3) It looks to contain a sizeable Reformed Voice.

A Conference about Church Music

I like that they say that this is a ‘church music’ conference. This is a great umbrella word that covers both music produced by the church for worship and music produced by the church for art. The reason I’m psyched about this is because it’s the first ‘popular’ conference I’ve seen that doesn’t confuse the two from the outset. There are a million ‘Worship Conferences’ that have nothing to do with worship (or worship music for that matter…). Here are a few (subject to change) workshops they list:

Songwriting - Speaking The Collaborative Language of Music During Worship vs. Learning Worship Tunes Verbatim from the Latest and Greatest CDs - The Functional Limits of Creativity - A Short History of Church Music - Worship and Justice - From Sunday to Sunday: A New Old Vision for Worship; Liturgical Spirituality for Post-Modern-Semi-Reformed-Hipsters - Tech and Production
If they survive the cut I’m really looking forward to attending Songwriting, The Collaborative Language vs Learning Worship Tunes Verbatim, and A New Old Vision for Worship.

Speakers and Artists

I am really excited for the speakers and artists that they have lined up. In one panel discussion alone are three of my biggest modern influences on worship, worship music, and songwriting; Bob Kauflin, Matt Redman, and Derek Webb. Just these three guys together would be enough to get me down to Texas. But alongside the big names like David Crowder Band and Hillsong are some lesser known groups like Bifrost Arts and The Civil Wars. For guys like me, I’d rather listen to Bifrost Arts over Hillsong any day. I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the other artists I’m not familiar with.

But there will be more than just opposing styles of music, there will be some clashing theologies as well. One of the big name speakers is Rob Bell. Now one thing Rob Bell has going for him is that he’s really cool and hip. But Rob Bell is pretty far out there theologically. I think it will be interesting to see the contrast between Bell and let’s say, Bob Kauflin or Francis Chan. So the divide theologically and stylistically in the artists and speakers who will be there will be interesting to witness firsthand.

Sizeable Reformed Voice

I would first say that this in no way appears to be a “Reformed” conference. The presence of Rob Bell and a few others puts to death that idea. It appears that the conference is aiming at (what one of the workshops calls) Post-Modern-Semi-Reformed-Hipsters. But you really can’t deny the influence of Reformed theology on many of the speakers and artists. And it’s not only that many of them adhere to Reformed theology, but they all seem to come from different streams of Reformed theology, most of whom I’ve already mentioned. You have the Passion guys Louis Giglio and Matt Redman, Sovereign Grace Pastor Bob Kauflin, Francis Chan, and Derek Webb. Crowder is a reformed guy in the Passion stream as well. I’m excited to see and hear from these guys in the midst of a conference that seems to reach out to, not only the reformed, but to the ‘emerging’ and what I’d call the ‘Pop-American Christianity’ crowds. So I wouldn’t call this event a ‘Reformed Conference’—it would be more accurate to describe it as a conference that includes a sizeable and influential Reformed voice. And to be honest, the fact that this is not a ‘reformed conference’ makes it that much more attractive. I’ve been to those and you know exactly what you’re going to get (both positively and negatively…).

In Summation

So my overall impression of this conference is that it is going to be fun and interesting. I’m looking forward to the info coming from the guys who’ve inspired me, ready to hear some music I’m not familiar with, and ready to connect and network with some like minded folks down in Texas.

If you are a reader of Sound Doxology and you are attending this conference I would love to hook up with you! Just drop me a line in the comments below or shoot me an email at sounddoxology AT gmail DOT com and let’s set something up.

(And if you happen to be speaking at the conference or performing I’d love to hook up with you as well. I promise to say something nice about you on my blog... Perhaps an interview?…I don’t know, have your people call my people, let’s do lunch...)

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