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The Elders of my church have this funny notion to keep me back in Denver while the best worship conference is happening in Grand Rapids on the last weekend of January.  I can’t imagine why!  Could it have something to do with the fact that just two days after Symposium is over, I’ll be locking up my office for a three month sabbatical?!  Hmmm. . . Maybe the Elders are on to something.  

Symposium is a unique worship conference.  There may be conferences that are more focused on a specific area, e.g. development of a worship band or a drama team, or preaching, or technical production in worship.  But no other conference has the scope and variety: seminars on a myriad of topics, multiple styles and expressions of worship, and intergenerational and international attendees.

So, here’s the deal--since I can’t go--why don’t you go in my place?  If you do go, could you please try to take in the following seminars and take good notes for me?  You can register by clicking here: Calvin Symposium on Worship

  • On Thursday, I would go to Seminar #3--but that’s because I’m a musician and because I’ll be spending some time with Eelco Vos in the Netherlands as part of my sabbatical.  If you are a visual artist, you might like the Psalms and Calligraphy Seminar #6 with Timothy Botts.  Preachers, check out Seminar #2 on preaching the Psalms.  And there are eight more to choose from!
  • Then on Friday and Saturday, I’d like to take in A2, A3, A12, A15, A17, A26, A27, A30, B3, B5, B6, B8, B16, B19, B23, B31, C2, C3, C4, C9, C15, C19, C26 . . .

Many of you have attended Symposium over the years.  In the spirit of remembering with thankfulness, what are some things you’ve learned from a previous Symposium and incorporated into your own worship services?  Here’s a few things our church has learned and practiced: 

  • Using percussion with scripture reading--not just with songs
  • Tableau drama  (now a staple in our congregation)
  • Gospel styling of piano accompaniment for congregational singing
  • Reading and reciting scripture with attention to the original intent.  E.g. If it is a story, read it like a story!  Better yet, memorize it and tell it to God’s people as a story!
  • Global music and an appreciation for God’s people worshiping around the world
  • How to use technology to inform preaching and worship planning
  • Incorporating symbols of the sacraments in our worship space

What can you add to this list . . . and what are you looking forward to at this year’s Symposium?

Be sure to post your experiences back here so I don’t miss too much!


The first time I ever heard percussion used for scripture or preaching, or maybe announcements, was at a small church in Hinton Alberta (not a crc).  It was well done, amusing, and uplifting.  But I have not heard it done since, and it does take a certain sensitivity and a sense of joy and appropriateness.  And the worshippers need to have a light heart.   Most likely the drummer was one with the congregation, and knew the people. 

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