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Reflections on Rezolution 2013 - Worship Matters
Last week, I traveled to South Africa for the first time and had the great joy of participating in Rezolution 2013, a series of conferences that took place in Johannesburg, Durban, and Capetown. I was there with 5 other guys from the States, CJ Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Kevin DeYoung, Mark Dever, and Brad Wheeler. The event was led primarily by Tim Cantrell and Al Schuster from Antioch Church in Midrand, although a number of other pastors and churches were involved as well. I participated in a pastors’ conference in Capetown on Monday and Tuesday, another pastors’ conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Rezolution 2013 conference on Friday night and Saturday. The messages were outstanding and can be downloaded here. I also had the privilege of serving two different congregations the first and second Sundays I was there. Through the week, I led 92 songs, which I think is a record for me, trumping my time at New Word Alive. It was an exhilarating edifying, eye-opening, and exhausting time. Here’s a few thoughts on my time there. 1. South Africa, like every other country, is in great need of the gospel. South African history is complex, to say the least. Apartheid has left serious scars on millions of people. Twenty years after Nelson Mandela came to power, the country still faces many significant problems – extreme poverty, political corruption, racial tension, and more. But while many wring their hands in despair and fear the worst Christians are offering hope for genuine transformation through the gospel. I was encouraged to hear of efforts being made by Christians to combat racial division, care for orphans, and provide for those in need. 2. Technology amplifies our impact. One of the more encouraging conversations I had while in South Africa was with Paul Karstens, a professor at the Bible Institute of Capetown. He said I had no idea how much Sovereign Grace Music had impacted the reformed churches there. I told him he was right – I had no idea. He said it was largely due to how accessible our music is. A couple years ago we redesigned our website to make downloads a one-click process, and last year we made all our sheet music free. In addition, you can purchase downloads of Sovereign Grace Music pretty much anywhere in the world through our Bandcamp site. I was thanking God for the how the Internet has made disseminating our music so much easier throughout the world. 3. Physical expression while singing can be hindered and encouraged by culture. I’ve spent a good bit of time thinking through what we do with our bodies when we sing together, and have shared my thoughts in a seminar called Worshiping God Mind, Soul, and Body. Bottom line, I think we should strive for natural physical expression as we meditate on God’s glory and the amazing news of the gospel. In South Africa the singing was loud and passionate, but most of the people I led in song were fairly conservative in their expressiveness. Actually, they were really conservative. (There were a few exceptions, like the older couple who had a Pentecostal background.) But over the weekend we were led by the Rezolution band, which combined native African songs with English songs. The choir and vocalists were very expressive, and at different times led us in motions related to what we were singing. I watched the responsiveness of the crowd and noted that this was the same group that hadn’t used their hands or bodies much as they sang earlier in the day. Which made me wonder why we so often stifle the response that seems to be so natural in other settings. 4. A lot of people want to know what it means to be a reformed charismatic. Sovereign Grace churches hold to an essentially reformed theology with a continuationist understanding of the gifts of the Spirit. While we were …