This past weekend I had the privilege of helping to lead the music at the New Attitude conference in Louisville, Kentucky. About 2300 single men and women gathered for four days to exalt God’s name in song, hear biblical teaching on God’s Word and the Gospel, and enjoy rich fellowship in community and family groups.
New Attitude was started a number of years ago by Joshua Harris, but is now led by Eric Simmons. Eric and Josh are both in their early 30’s and are seeking to impact younger generations through biblical, humble, Gospel-centered, and wise leadership. The three of us met a couple months ago to talk through what songs we’d like to sing and how we’d like them to be presented. Our goal was that the singing be more than a “conference high” musical experience. Here are some of results of our conversation.
1. Eric asked me to co-lead all the music with my 21 year old son, Devon. Devon led the rehearsals and meetings while I contributed verbal comments for each session as well as some spontaneous elements. A number of people commented how deeply it affected them to us leading together. It clearly communicated that even though this was a singles conference (primarily geared towards younger singles), worship is still multi-generational. It was a pure joy for me.
2. Eric also asked me to comment on what we were doing as we sang. We didn’t want to assume that everyone would know what we were supposed to be doing. So after the third song on the first night I reminded everyone that we had come to New Attitude to fight. "What we are doing right now is fighting to trust in Jesus Christ. We are fighting to believe in God and not in ourselves. We’re fighting for our hearts to find joy in what HE has done, not in what WE have done." The next morning we showed a video that combined pictures of creation with quotes from Job, and sang Laura Story’s, Indescribable, a song that exalts God’s wisdom, power, and beauty in creation. I then explained that while God’s eternal power and divine nature can be seen in the stars, they aren’t the only testimony God has given us of who he is. He has given us His Word, and ultimately His Son to reveal Himself to us. That’s why we don’t simply go out to a field to worship God. We sing songs that engage our minds with truth so that we understand His acts of creation and redemption more clearly. That in turn moves our hearts to love Him more.
The next morning I took time to explain how we worship God not only with our hearts and minds, but our bodies as well. He calls us to use our bodies to worship Him in all of life, not just when we sing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t use them when we sing. We are called to exalt God’s glory and greatness with our hands, feet, and voices. We then sang Matt Redman’s Dancing Generation and Martin Smith’s The Happy Song. We followed that with Grace Unmeasured (available as a free download to the right), a slower song that exults in God’s multi-faceted grace . The result was truth-inspired passion that expressed itself in lifted hands, jumping feet, grateful tears, and joyful faces.
3. We also used a variety of musical accompaniments at the conference. The main instrumentation was made up of keyboards, acoustic, electric guitar, bass, drums, and drum loops. However two sessions we added a string quartet. Another meeting we only used a piano, guitar, djembe, and bass. One session we added a 60 voice choir. We sang portions of songs and one complete song (How Deep the Father’s Love) completely a cappella. One evening we had a concert with Curtis Allen, aka "Voice," who shared his unique gift of theologically-driven rap. At one point Josh mentioned that our purpose was not to promote a particular “sound” of worship, but to utilize different styles to draw attention to the truths we were singing.
There’s more I could share, but this is already too long. All this to say, that I’m grateful to be serving men from the next generation who are committed to using music to exalt the greatness of God’s glory in Jesus Christ.
thank you and devon, for such a mavelous music (words truly can’t describe my true feeling). i just praise God that i am at your church and get to experience that weekly. but i still kind of new to the church and was wondering if you were going to come out with a worship cd for new attitude. also, i thought that Eric said that the worship song were going to be listed, i am not sure, but i was wondering if i can get the title of all the worship songs, or if you can recommend cd that have the song on there too.
again, thanks, i am trully bless and may new song continue to fill your second, minutes and hours, not just you, but Devon also.
Hey! thank you so much for serving us in worship at New Attitude. Just one thing I wanted to share to encourage you.
My sister Melinda and I both serve on our worship team back in Miami, and usually at conferences, to be in the congregation (something that doesn’t happen much when serving in a smaller worship band) it is sometimes a distraction, because we are tempted to focus on the musicians, vocalists, and arrangement, however, as we later discussed how the worship time affected us, we realized that at this conference we were not distracted by the technical/musical aspect of the worship, but were captivated by the Savior.
Thank you for intentionally putting Christ in the center, it served us so well, to be able to feast on Jesus alone, and what He has done for us!
Bob, As a fellow worshipper at Na, thanks for your leadership and thought that was put into the worship times. God worked in amazing ways in my life through the worship times – to see you and Devon worshipping together and then to hear your prophetic song about parents/family relationships gave me the encouragement to pray for that in my family as well.
To experience joy and dancing during worship was a new thing for me, and I honestly didn’t expect it. One thing I can’t forget from Matt Redman’s song “Dancing Generation” is that “it’s the overflow of a forgiven soul.” That was true in my life. As we sat in sermon after sermon realizing the wonderful grace of God in our lives, the worship was an overflow of thanksgiving towards Him.
The entire worship team was an amazing example of various people with outstanding talents using what God has given them to turn all the glory back to Him. Thanks for your humility and willingness to serve us day after day at the conference!
Worship at Na was life-transforming and nothing less! Your message at the singles meeting two weeks prior to Na on preparing for worship was so well instructive; the application of that message by lifting our voices as one to the One who is worthy makes daily worship so sweet and desirable both corporately and personally! The encouragement and direction that God spoke through you that worship is intentionally centered on Christ makes worship not only desirable, but also, as the lyrics of one song suggests, to “give [us] a passion to see [His] glory.”
Is there any way that you can post attachments or websites of the lyrics of all songs we sand to the Savior at Na? Thanks!
Bob, your blog is a theological step forward! You have “God’s multi-faceted grace (available as a free download to the right)”!
Thanks for the comment. I changed the order of words so it doesn’t look like I’m offering God’s multi-faceted grace as a free download…
It is awonderful thing to impact the youth in whichever way for Christ.When you affect them you have affected the future.The Lord bless you as you continue in your minstry for Him.
I read that you used rap in one of your conferences. I adhere to reformed theology as an SBC pastor. I personally know a christian rapper named Marcus Gray aka “Flame”. He has great theology in his lyrics and is Reformed. You can find it at any christian music store.