I spent the last three days in Seattle, a gorgeous place I had never visited before. We were hosted for an arts forum (The Leaders’ Table and Green Room) by Timberlake Christian Fellowship and their arts director, Gary Verrill. On Friday, 20 of us spent the day unpacking the challenges of leading worship arts ministries, and I was once again surprised and sobered by how significant it is for these leaders to come together and interact. I expected all the attenders both days to come from the Seattle area, but was delighted to be joined by Caleb from Alaska (who leads the arts at a 200 member church in the southern part of that state where the annual rainfall is 13 feet!), by Dean from British Columbia (who only came to Christ himself 2 years ago and is brand new in his role), and by Sara from Spokane who took a last minute flight because the pass between the cities was shut down from avalanches. All day long we talked about key issues these leaders are facing, and our hearts were knit together with a level of connectedness I was not prepared for.
I was surprised again on Saturday, when over 100 church artists entered the beautiful sanctuary of Timberlake, a 6-year-old facility nestled in the woods with windows looking out to a stunning forest of majestic, giant pine trees. Some of the earliest attenders to arrive were a group of 40 people who boarded a bus at 4:30 am from Beaverton, Oregon to be with us! (I considered it a tremendous challenge to try to keep them engaged all day long without them napping).
Gary Verrill asked me before we began if I’d be open to him inviting the attenders on stage for the opening time of worship. So all of us surrounded the band and expressed our praise to God with passion. What a glorious beginning to the day!
I admit that sometimes I wonder if the travel and time investment are worth it for these gatherings. But then I see what the Spirit does among us, the moments we experience together, the ennobling of all that we do as artists in the church, and the underscoring of core values we all want to hold onto. By the end of the day, I was so grateful to God for bringing us together, and for the opportunity to be used by him to encourage and inspire and equip church artists. I know this is what I was born to do, and I flew home during the Super Bowl with a big smile on my face (until we were severely delayed by snow in Chicago, but that’s another story…) God, you are always, always, so good! Now next weekend, I’ll try not to be so surprised by what my heavenly Father does in our gatherings at ROCKHARBOR in Costa Mesa.