2,000 leaders keep worship central in the heart of London
Over 2,000 worship leaders from 30 nations gathered in central London this weekend for the Worship Central conference.
Central Hall in Westminster was near capacity as Worship Central founder Tim Hughes opened the event on Friday evening.
"There's never been a time were we've been more equipped...but it's not enough," he said. "There's not going to be another great song or message that's going to change us, important though that is. It's God's spirit that will change us."
Worship Central team members Ben Cantelon and Luke Hellebronth led songs including Let It Be Known and Guardian before Hughes preached on 2 Chronicles 20, explaining, "Leading worship is never a career path it's an honour and a privilege."
Speaking about holiness, Hughes said, "It isn't about trying harder. We all know when we try we make even bigger mistakes...purity happens when we allow Jesus to the very depths of our hearts... When we worship, nations will change and cities will change. When we take a step toward God he takes a giant leap toward us. When we worship we unite around the earth-shattering truth that Jesus is Lord."
After a time of ministry, Brian and Jenn Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, California played songs from their new album Tides. The couple were also interviewed on Saturday afternoon in a workshop titled 'Prophetic worship: Going beyond the song'.
Saturday morning saw a special preview of the trailer for upcoming Hollywood film Noah, which features Luke Hellebronth's song Spirit Break Out. Hughes was moved to tears as he reflected on the song's global impact and later revealed that Worship Central now has bases all over the world including in Costa Rica, Australia and the UAE.
Leaders including Ben Cantelon, Kathryn Scott and Matt Redman led the delegates in sung praise over the four main sessions. The seminar programme included a session from Jake Isaac and Nick Herbert on songwriting.
"Lets not be afraid of creativity, let's press into it," Herbert encouraged before those gathered were asked to watch short inspirational films and then in three minutes begin to write their own worship songs.
"When you come to the end of what you know, that's the place of interest, that's the place where emotion is found. Emotion is key. We shouldn't be scared of emotion. Bono said you can have a thousand words in a song but unless you have emotion, all you have is an essay," he explained.
Saturday afternoon's keynote presentation featured an interview with Matt Redman and Reuben Morgan, conducted by Tim Hughes.
When asked why his songs often draw on themes of suffering and difficult times, Redman responded: "I didn't sit down and think 'I need another song that will help people trust God in a dark moment'. I wanted to write because, number one, it's biblical. Eugene Peterson reckons 70 per cent of the psalms is lament. Secondly, no one in this earth escapes pain, suffering and confusion. The third reason is it's a great window onto the heart of God for someone who doesn't know him."
Speaking about his song, 10,000 reasons, the worship leader said: "We've had six emails from people as they were dying in hospital of terminal cancer, they've asked for that song to be played as they die and go to be with Jesus. The last one, there was 31 people in the room singing it."
Morgan, who moved from Australia to join Hillsong London 18 months ago was asked about the vision behind the music. "Style can change," he replied. "Any of this can change and come and go the songs can change but we want people to connect with Christ and have encounter with God that's real and makes a lasting change."
The weekend also marked the launch of Hellebronth's Stand Up album, which features a new recording of Spirit Break Out as well as two live recordings from Worship Central events.
The conference ended with Hughes and Beth Croft leading worship before 24/7 prayer leader Pete Greig spoke from Isaiah 6 about practising wonder and how mud (sin), sweat (busyness) and tears (pain and disappointment) can make encountering God difficult. After a time of ministry the Worship Central team brought the night to a close with celebratory songs including Holding Nothing Back and Let It Be Known.
Feedback on the conference poured in on Twitter through the weekend. Gareth Jekins from Exeter wrote: "Hard to describe just how good #wcconf has been so far. Incredible doesn't do it justice!" while American recording artist Evan Wickham commented: "Breathtaking night of worship with 1,000's of leaders from across the globe at @worshipcentral. #worshipcentral."