Since my retirement from Kingsway Jan and I have worshiped and served with many different churches. This year I've preached in a different church almost every weekened. We've had a lot of wonderful worship experiences, but the one which has stood out above all the others is the weekend I preached at Crossroads Christian Church in the Evansville, Indiana metro area last fall. There was excellence and incredible variety in every service. The prelude was done by their "Big Band" which was on a par with the best of professional groups. Then a large gospel choir with a wonderful array of ages and ethnicities opened the service, including a remarkable soloist. Congregational singing was accompanied by the choir but with a twelve member worship team which again was made up of a variety of ages and ethnic backgrounds. There was a great-grandmother, well into her 80's, and a young teen of perhaps 13 or 14. There was a bank president and a school janitor. It was a microcosm of the church.
David Rinehart is the worship pastor at Crossroads, and he led, and yet he wasn't the focus. He, along with his talented instrumentalists and vocalists, simply worshiped and invited us to join them. The songs sung were familiar, singable, and developed the theme of the service. Communion and offering times were made all the more meaningful by the unique use of various instruments. After my sermon on "Intimacy With God" and an emphasis on the use of spiritual disciplines, Richard Sears, their gifted associate worship pastor sang Larnelle Harris' "I Miss My Time With You." It was extremely powerful and just the right song to put an exclamation point on the service.
I said all that as background for the fact that David Rinehart and his entire music department will be responsible for leading us in worship at ICOM 2012. Frankly, this is one of the things that I am most excited about. Music is one of the most important elements of any Christian conference. However, most of us have been to conventions where those who led really didjn't understand the makeup of their congregation. Often the songs are unknown to most. I remember a National Missionary Convention several years ago in which we stood for forty minutes while the group on stage sang songs totally unknown the the vast majority of us. By the time the song service was over more than half the people were sitting down and reading or visiting. Others had simply left. I can assure you that won't be the case at ICOM 2012. David and I have talked at length about what we hope to accomplish through the music and I believe you will be moved, inspired, and most likely able to worship more effectively than in any similar gathering you've ever attended.
Here's the amazing thing. Crossroads is bringing their "Big Band," their Praise Band, their worship teams, their entire choir, and their soloists. They are even bringing their youth choir, Tribute, which will sing in the main auditorium on Friday night and take part in the youth convention on Saturday. This is the youth choir, under the direction of Chris Hirsch, that has memorized their music in arabic so as to sing about Jesus at the Muslim Festivals in Dearborn, Michigan. The adult choir also goes on a mission trip at their own expense each year, and this year they'll be spending that time with us. We are so blessed!
On Sunday morning all those musicians, hundreds of them, will be on stage helping us bring the conference to a power-packed conclusion. And as if that weren't enough, they'll be accompanying one of Christian music's greatest vocalists, Steve Green. I'll write more about that next week. But I've got to tell you that I would be at ICOM 2012 if only for the music. I can hardly wait!
This weekend I journey to northern Indiana and The Christian Church of Demotte in DeMotte, Indiana where I'll be representing ICOM and preaching.