NWLC 2016 Theme: "Teach Us To Pray"

NWLC 2016 Theme: “Teach Us To Pray”

Recently I had a fantastic experience attending the National Worship Leaders Conference (NWLC.com) in northern Virginia (near Washington DC). 

I’ve been to many worship conferences and taught at quite a few also. For this event, I was intentional to simply attend and receive. I left feeling refreshed, encouraged, and equipped with several practical ideas, plus I connected with old friends and made several new ones.

The number of workshops is massive, over 60, divided into four per day plus the morning plenary sessions and evening concerts. So be prepared to manage sensory and information overload.

Here are some quotes and ideas that impacted me.

1. Leonard Sweet on prayer.

“Prayer is the most powerful force in the universe.”

“Intercessory prayer  is when you care enough about somebody that you tear the roof off.” (Mark 2)

“The trees don’t move the wind. It is the wind that moves the trees. The most powerful forces are invisible spiritual forces. Not by might, not by power but by my Spirit says the Lord …  The power is in the SPIRIT , not the means, or mechanisms. The invisible …  so keep Pentecost every day! The power is in the wind!”

“Jesus defines his ministry and his church as a house of prayer. We’ve tried everything … but a praying church.”

“Prayer is the key to a healthy life.”

“To pray “Thy will be done” is not resignation, but acceptance of an assignment. It not resignation.”

2 . Stan Endicott on …

Coaching and mentoring.

Coaching is doing & developing skill.

Mentoring is thinking.

Coaching has an agenda with next steps.

Mentoring is relationships, loving people and listening to them.

You can coach and mentor at the same time.

There are no shortcuts to develop skill. God gave you talent, but he did not give you skill.

That’s how you do it … you invest the time.

What congregational singing accomplishes…

•It forces remembering of words

•It is like praying twice

•Engages the words emotionally

•Expresses our unity

•Congregations are supposed to sing – commanded 69 times in the Psalms

The job of a worship leader.

“Your job as a worship leader is to 1. Read your Bible and, 2. Listen to music”

3. Craig Gilbert on …

Why leaders of worship need to instruct our congregations how to participate in worship.

“The regular congregation sets the tone for visitors. Their level of participation tells a visitor if participation is desired and encouraged, or if they are just supposed to watch. You don’t want visitors to wonder what they are supposed to do.”

The result of worshiping  – people who genuinely meet God change the world.

“The result of worship is a changed life. A participatory congregation carries that participation out into the world. No one encounters God and leaves the same. If you meet God, something changes.”

4. Ray Jones on “the requirements to sing in our choir.”

1. Love Jesus.

2. Come to rehearsal.

5. Rick Muchow on ministry philosophy…

“Methods come and go … it’s the message that matters most …”

6. Zak Hicks on …

Spiritual formation.

“If all we had were the songs we sing, what would people know & understand about God?”

Worship as prayer.

“Worship from beginning to end is prayer. Therefore, worship leaders are prayer leaders. We need to re-imagine our jobs as leaders of prayer. Less rock star – more pastor / prayer leader. “

7. Tim Foote on the art of verbal transitions.

  • – Get inspired
  • – Make it personal
  • – Make it pastoral
  • – Make it real and relatable
  • – Make it you
  • Relax, it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Other Highlights

1. Singing with Laura Story and the NWLC Choir directed by Ray Jones.

I direct a choir every week, so I’ve been studying how various choir directors do their thing. Ray Jones as choir director has a great spirit that lifts everyone up. Singing with the NWLC choir was educational, inspirational, and a lot of fun. My favorite Ray tip –  “Sing the song in the style it was written” and “when singing straight tone, take your tremelo and put it in your pocket” 🙂

3. Sit in on the SongDiscovery listening sessions.

The session I attended was led by Jeremy Armstrong, editor of Worship Leader Magazine, and a very good facilitator. Also evaluating songs were the Brothers McClurg and Laura Story. Feedback is so important to learning how to write good songs that people will sing.

4. Meeting new people. This was a great way to meet new peers, pastors, writers and like-minded folks in various stages of their journey. It really is an edifying experience.  

5. Connecting with vendors in the exhibition area. All the exhibitors I met seemed genuinely interested in serving with their products or service offerings. It was not too much of a pitch-fest. I even prayed with a few nice folks.

6. Talk one-on-one with the instructors whenever you can. This is event is large, but you can connect with instructors after and in-between seminars if you make an effort.

Thinking About Going?

If you’re considering attending a NWLC in your area, I highly recommend it. (They are held in multiple locations throughout the year, see the website NWLC.com for future dates and locations).

You will have a positive experience if you attend with some clear goals, are open to the Holy Spirit giving you fresh connections and relationships, and are intentional about putting yourself out there.