Today, I was at Watermark Church for Day 1 of the Echo Conference. Went up with three Bethel staffers (communications, family/downtown campus and worship/downtown campus). Since there’s so much stuff packed into a the days, breaking up the blogging into sections is the only way to go.
On Monday night, while I was being snarky on Twitter because I didn’t want to leave my family for three days, I referenced the conference. A few of my friends chimed in and tried to be funny (I need funnier friends, by the way) but then I got a tweet from this guy:
Ben MacGill is a worship leader in Kansas who has just pass his 1-year mark of worship leading full-time in a church. Ben is a reader of this very blog and told me he would be at the conference, too! Suddenly, I was looking forward to this thing! You know I’m always down to hang out with other worship leaders!
In the break before Main Session, Ben texted that he was free, so we met up and talked for over an hour! I loved it – Ben is young, excited and humble about his calling to serve the local church. I found him to be mature and creative and it gave me a lot of hope to talk to him. To hang out with somebody who has come of age during the modern worship movement can be a little scary, but it was evident that Ben was the real deal – not out for glory or fame or notoriety. Just a guy who wants to honor God with his art within the context of his church.
After hanging out with Ben, we went into the Main Session for worship and one of the keynote speeches. The service opened with an amazing mini-movie that was essentially a “History Of Video Games.” Yeah, I liked that just a little bit.
Worship was led by Carlos Whitaker and Nathan Finochio. Lights and projection were well-done, but worship set felt a little flat to me. I don’t know if you know this about me, but sometimes, every so often, I can be a little cynical. I realize that this conference really isn’t for worship leaders, but I thought overall the singing portion was kinda’ awful.
Jon Acuff was the keynote speaker. I like Jon a lot but it took me a few minutes to get into it. As a speaker, he’s pretty laid back. Add that to the fact that he’s a really funny guy and it almost feels like stand-up comedy. One he got into his content, however, the mix of his humor and great message was amazing. I would have liked a little more scriptural basis for the stuff he was saying (Bible church nerd alert!) but I found it to be very encouraging and hitting me right where I’m at these days.
Our schedule had something called Echo: After Hours, but there was no info on it. After the session, one of the emcees came on stage and invited us to a Christmas Party. Yep. Christmas In July. It was goofy and dumb, but a lot of fun. They had decorated a game room/great room with Christmas lights, carols, cider and cookies. It may sound dumb, but it looked like the perfect place for people to hang out and decompress after a pretty full day.
We got to the hotel, hung out for awhile and argued about music before going to bed. Great first day!