September 23, 2020

Blogging from “Worship and Arts” Part 1

p1120677.jpgI’m going to try and blog the conference a bit.

(Thursday morning, 9:09 a.m.) I’m at the “Worship and Arts” conference sponsored by Campbellsvile University. (Actually at a local church) Small crowd. Michael Card is the main teacher. John Mark Macmillan- who I’ve never heard of- is leading worship. He brought a band. It’s pretty obvious to me from the projections I’m seeing that the theme of the conference- “Lament: Passion and Praise In A Minor Key”- is going to be reflected in some of the worship songs. An immediate departure from the usual “happy clappy” start ups. One lyric said “I don’t need a fairy tale god who lives in a book.” Now we’re talking.

What I’ve heard of this guy’s music, I like. Very rootsy. The Springsteen-folk/rock sound. He has a Myspace with some songs, and a web page.

Lots of college students coming in. Local pastors, some probably about to get a big surprise. I look pretty uncool, but actually I’m the coolest guy here. (jn++)

The church I’m in is very traditional SBC architecture, but the emerging folks have gotten ahold of the interior for this. I won’t describe it, but very interesting. You can turn a First Baptist Church sanctuary into Mars Hill if you want to. Too bad I didn’t bring my camera.

I’d like to put “the iMonk” on my name tag, as I’m pretty sure I have readers from the University here. They recently established a “School of Theology,” somewhat in reaction to the Calvinistic takeover of Southern Seminary, but not in any liberal direction. I’d certainly like to hear a lot more from the non-Calvinistic, non-Texas evangelist conservatives in the SBC. I believe good things are happening among the young and not-so-truly reformed, but there are some things that will just never happen with them, but will only happen with non-Calvinistic Christians. We need both, don’t we? I think so.

More later.

(10:40 a.m.) John Mark Mcmillan and band just finished a slightly more than one hour set of worship music. The crowd here is overwhelmingly college. Very emerging, with all the external signs. They were very “into” the music. I find it hard to worship with music I don’t know, but I don’t feel excluded if I can read the words and enjoy the music. Many of the morning’s songs were based on hymns or very singable lyrics. A lot of the “confident” Psalms in the sound of this band, along with some spontaneous praise and good musical jams.

If you don’t like loud rock, you are as outside with this as you would be if it were a some kind of exotic Indian sitar group. If you like lots of repeated loud rock, this is great.

U2 has had an enormous influence on this kind of music. It’s amazng how many of hte guitar and vocal chops are U2 almost exactly. I notice this with a lot of current worship music.

Some of the behavior of the students is way way past anything I’ve ever seen inside a church. Loud hooting. Don’t know what else to call it, and I don’t know what it means. Then there is the spinning. Really fast spinning. Intense, almost thrashing. If this is what we’re seeing in emerging worship I’m way out of touch. Another case of how my little corner of the world keeps me isolated.

It’s astonishing how music conveys so many things in culture, and once music has been allowed “inside” the worship experience, it will shape it quickly and deeply. Just as amazing is how quickly the older paradigms fall and are forgotten. This is a world where twenty-something preferences are unquestioned. I am being asked to stand for almost an hour! It’s amazing what that conveys about “who” is participating.

(2:00 p.m.) Michael Card has taught two sessions on “The Lost Language of Lament.” He’s done an introduction and then surveyed Job and a lot of Psalms. He’s actually written a second book on the subject. He has so many good things to say I’ll give them their own post.

What a humble guy. Card is, out of everyone I’ve ever seen in the “Christian music” world, the most humble. Completely a blue collar Joe in his manner, even though he is a brilliant person. I think it is the study of the Bible and his commitment to be a teacher as much as a lyricist and musician that makes him so humble. He’s always aware of the Word.

Michael Card and John Mark Mcmillan will be doing a concert tonight, then Michael teaches again tomorrow.

Great to see friends from Somerset here. Those of us who are over 21 are a minority, and glad to see each other.

More later…


  1. Spinning? Well, that’s a new one. I hope no one got hurt. As for the “hooting” I can only assume that this is some kind of strange “Owl” worship. I play in a praise band at and I just used a U2 sound yesterday on a hymn so I’m pegged. Actually, I was trying to contribute to the song. Interesting stuff.