Fantastical Journey Part 2: Opening Day

Two planes and a two-hour drive later, I’m in Waco, TX. I’ve never been to Texas. The layout of this town is confusing to me. My sense of direction is not the best in the world, but I have not gotten completely lost.. yet.

After dropping my things off at the hotel, I drove to Baylor University, found a place to park, and headed to Waco Hall. Many people were gathered outside waiting for the doors to open. Eventually they did, and I got registered, at which point I received an Altoids tin containing a playing card, LiteBrite bulbs (for a gigantic LiteBrite of the conference logo outside the auditorium), a pencil, and a matchbox containing the conference schedule – nice touch.

The vibe here is upbeat and diverse. I am 35, and am on the older side of the average age of attendees. As I tweeted earlier, small Bibles, Moleskines, iPads, and man bags abound (I was in this category minus the iPad and the man bag, which I do not own and left in the room, respectively).

I scored a seat three rows back. Opening videos were cool. We were given a lecture about the purpose of the playing cards in our tins by a man in a top hat and giant playing cards strapped to him. He used an old school overhead and screen. Funny stuff.

David Crowder welcomed us and was very engaging. The music kicked off with the group Welcome Wagon, who sang new hymns with interesting, eclectic arrangements. I liked them.

Francis Chan! Always love when I get to hear him, and tonight was no exception.

He told some great stories about worship. One such story was about a speaking engagement at a gathering in San Diego. At this particular conference, they placed magazines in the seats of every attendee. These magazines featured Francis’ face on the cover, which, in his words, was “pretty cool.”

Lincoln Brewster led the music at this conference, and they sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness. As they did, he felt like God was saying, “You like this, don’t you Francis? You like the attention.” The thought of this made him weep. Then they sang Holy Holy Holy, and it just made him cry all the more. And then he had to speak. Sobbing, he confessed to the crowd what God was saying to him.

Regarding the incident, Francis said, “I’m not used to this ‘fame thing.'” He said that this was part of the reason he and his family are going to other countries to serve for a while – to get away from the spotlight and rediscover himself (wrote about him leaving his church here).

He called us to a time of prayer, aaaaaaaaaand the bumper video for the next group immediately played. I plugged my ears and prayed well into Gungor’s first song at Francis’ prompting. Who doesn’t deal with pride issues, especially in the music realm? I prayed to refocus my ministry and life for God’s glory.

Gungor played some really good music with a great vibe. One thing I have appreciated about the music thus far is the variety and inventiveness of the instrumentation (playing electric bass with a bow, key-tar, xylophone).

Looking forward to tomorrow.

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