The day started bright and early with a worship session lead by Pocket Full of Rocks. I hadn't heard them before, but they were really good.
John Eldredge was our speaker, and I think he'll go down as one of my favourite parts of this conference. He spoke about the importance of the humanity of Jesus. If we think Jesus was 'faking' his humanity, then how can we actually relate to him? So he brought us through different stories to show us the personality of Jesus - his playfulness, his cunning, and the camaraderie he had with this friends. The whole message felt so generous and inspiring! I could have listened for hours more.
My first elective workshop was Worship Planning with Kim Gentes. Most of it I already knew, but he did take us through an interesting history of worship planning, which was neat. After lunch, I studied the Key Attitudes of Worship Leaders with Dan Wilt, which was awesome! He listed 7 different attributes held by great worship leaders, and broke down ways we can develop these skills in ourselves. To end the afternoon, Gerald and I attended our first workshop together - Taking it to the Next Level with songwriter Don Poythress. It was really inspiring and practical.
Instead of taking a supper break, I headed straight to the exhibit hall and bookstore. My visa card got super excited! I stocked up on training DVDs from Brian Doerkson and Paul Baloche, with a few CDs and books thrown in for good measure.
Tonight was a mixed bag for me. The assembly opened with Brian Doerkson leading worship, which was awesome! His songs and the music were great, but the spirit of the session was just fantastic - gentle, sensitive, and welcoming. When Brian leads worship, you know it's going to be safe, and I mean that in a really good way. He's not going to take you anywhere weird or forced.
After a prayer and an offering, we were supposed to have another song, but something went wrong with the tech, so we sang a few acapella choruses. 15000 people singing acapella, with full harmony. Just awesome!
I was really excited to hear our speaker for tonight, Franklin Graham. I was looking forward to hearing about his experiences with Samaritan's Purse, responding to the earthquake in Haiti, and ministering to people in need. I thought, "What a great message for 15000 people who are ministering on a regular basis in their home churches!"
Unfortunately, that's not the message he gave. Instead, he gave a Bible-thumping, turn-from-your-sin-and-repent message and altar call to a room full of people who are not just Christians, but already in active ministry. He was just so over the top, very preachy, and not my cup of tea. It obviously meant something to the few people who came up during the altar call, but what about the thousands of other people in the audience who could have used a message about how to bring Christian love into areas of trial and crisis? I don't like to be openly critical of preachers, because I know they have a tough job, but I really think it was a great lesson on knowing your audience and choosing a message that can really serve them.
The session ended with another great song by Brian. Another lesson: always send them out singing!