I’m in the middle of preparing for the Next conference, that starts this Saturday, May 23, and ends on Tuesday, May 26. Over 2500 mostly single men and women will be gathering in Baltimore to hear D.A. Carson, C.J. Mahaney, Josh Harris, Kevin DeYoung, and Sinclair Ferguson expound on the glory of Jesus Christ.
Next was previously called New Attitude, and was started by Josh Harris. It’s continued almost every year since 1999. From the website:
Next isn’t built on “new.” It isn’t about the next trend or fad. Next is built on the old, treasured, and true. It’s about rediscovering old truth and recommitting to it.
The vision of Next is to gather worshipers of Jesus Christ who burn with a passion to see the gospel transferred to the next generation. Next is about faithfully receiving the gospel—the message of Christ and him crucified–from those who have gone before us, holding fast to the gospel personally, and passing the gospel on to those coming after us.
I have the privilege of leading the conference in times of corporate worship and will be serving alongside three different bands. The first is the Na Band, led by my son, Devon. We’ve led together in the past and it’s a joy to anticipate serving with him again, singing many of the songs from their CD Looked Upon. For two sessions I’ll be playing with Zelos, led by Judah Groveman. These are guys from my home church, who have a heart both to reach unbelievers with quality original music and to serve the church in leading corporate song. Finally, I’ll be leading one session with the band, Reilly, fronted by John Reilly. Hence the name. The members of Reilly hail from the Sovereign Grace church near Philadelphia, and they’ve produced two CDs. Because they feature two violinists, they sometimes refer to their music as “violin rock.”Like the members of Na Band and Zelos, they count it a privilege to use their musical gifts to serve others in magnifying the glory of Christ through song.
In addition to the bands, we’ll also add a choir for two sessions and a 15 piece string section for another two sessions.
What does all this mean for me? Well, it makes putting together the songs for Next something like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I’ve tried to take into consideration the following factors:
- songs that fit the message of a particular meeting
- songs the follow a particular message
- songs that people know
- new songs that we want people to learn
- songs that each band knows
- songs we want to repeat
- songs that Josh wants us to sing
- songs that we’ll have choir parts for
- songs that we’ll have string parts for
- songs that we might want to do “as the Spirit leads”
It’s been a longer process than I anticipated, but I think we’ve finally gotten a list together. I’ll let you know how it goes.