Here is a quick collection of my favorite moments from my recent trip to Gathersburg, MD to participate in Sovereign Grace's Worship God '11 Conference.  In no particular order:

1.  The Teaching From Thabiti Anyabwile's call, to unity amongst worship leaders and teaching pastors, to Craig Cabaniss talk on (and the best exegesis I have heard for) the missional aspects of worship gatherings.  The sessions were not just inspirational, they were helpful.

2.  1800 Voices Getting After It During the worship sessions, I noticed a few things.  Covenant Life loves to adore the Savior.  They are very comfortable with physical expressiveness, but it never felt chaotic or showy.  They had endurance for responding in song and didn't mind continuous 6-10 song sets, in fact they embraced it.

Rather than try to create a thousand individual worship experiences, as if everyone in the room exists in their own phone booth, they encourage the horizontal element of corporate worship.  They leave the house lights up so people can see the corporate response. The view from the bleachers in the back, showed the room looking more like a field of grain or a school of sardines moving in unison, than it ever did a concert.

The bands that cycled through were great, particularly Enfield and Sojourn's band.  The emphasis on liturgy in the session was also powerful, with scripture readings and creeds peppered throughout.

"Rather than try to create a thousand individual worship experiences,... they encourage the horizontal element of corporate worship."

3.  Hanging with the Village crew

I spend a fair amount of time learning from, meeting and chatting with leaders from other churches, and there is something tangibly different about the Village staff.  Because I arrived solo, I was taken in by some worship and production leaders at the Village Church.  I was really impressed by both, their warmth and sincerity.

I enjoyed chatting a bit with Jeff Capps, a talented worship leader for one of the Village's campuses.  I am extremely grateful for my friend, Michael Bleecker's leadership.  On a more personal note, it was also especially meaningful to thank Lauren Chandler for some encouragement she offered my wife and I during a difficult season three years ago.

4.  The Bob There aren't many examples of worship leaders that have gone the distance in their ministry life.  Bob Kauflin is a rare leader, seasoned by years of ministry and full of humility.  More specifically, he lacks the cynicism and critical spirit that is common to older church leaders.

Spending time with his leaders and his family was refreshing and encouraging.  There was a moment in his backyard that I was filled with gratitude, as I looked around and saw so many leaders I have gleaned wisdom from, all in one place at one time, and all happy to be around the man they respect and admire.

My favorite moment involving Bob, was when Mark Altrogge poked fun by posting a picture of one of Bob's old albums, and when everyone looked at Bob on stage for his reaction, they noticed he was standing in the EXACT same position as the album cover.  Classic. (See album below)

5.  Eating Chick-Fil-A everyday. I know it's just a sandwich, but my life was forever changed 10 years ago when I beheld the glory of the spicy chicken sandwich, sweet tea, and frosty cone.  I have become a walking and talking advertisement for the establishment, as made clear by my travel mates expression below.  Oh, and castles rule.

Snag audio from the conference for free here.