[Previously posted at: polenbandmusic.com]
For two years in a row we have had the privilege and pleasure of leading musical worship at the Sonlife D•Con (Disciple-Making Conference) in Orlando, FL. This year it was held at the Bright Center January 9-11. The event was really amazing, challenging, and super life-giving!
Nick was not able to join us on the trip, so we had Josh Miller fill in on the drums. Josh is a great guy who was a student in my Youth Group while I was a Youth Pastor for ten years. After high school he got involved in missions and went to Bible College, and he is just an all-around great guy.
We also had Heather Schlabach join us as a female vocalist for the event. Heather is a great singer and a fun person to be around. She was also a student in my Youth Group, was intentionally discipled by me after high school, and served alongside of me as Youth Staff for several years.
There was an additional amount of joy present in my heart, knowing that I would be leading a passionate group of disciple-makers into musical worship alongside of some great people that I have had the privilege of discipling through the years!
Elijah, Heather, Josh, Keith, Mark, and Nate all drove down to Florida to meet me there on Tuesday morning. I was already there because I flew in to be a part of some of the pre-conference training.
We stayed at a house in Kissimmee, not too far from the Bright Center, and there was an alligator in our back yard.
When in Florida, we definitely do not recommend that you mess with the gators. We did, but that is because we are dumb.
The D•Con officially began on Tuesday night. The session opened with a super cool video.
After the stage was set for worship with the opening video, we led the following opening set:
1. Open Up the Heavens
2. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
3. Revelation Song
4. Lord, I Need You
5. My Lighthouse
Probably the most embarrassing moment of the night was when our iPad glitched and we started “Open Up the Heavens” with no sound… Awkward.
Nate had to close out the App that he uses to mix the band and relaunch it. Then one by one he began to unmute the instruments. The audience was sitting and staring while we all played instruments that had no sound… then the kick drum started thumping. Then the snare. Then the bass. Then the acoustic guitar. Finally everything was working and we were ready to go. Props to Nate for keeping his cool and getting us up and running.
After the music, Doug Holliday took the stage and masterfully laid out the vision for the conference. A big theme of Sonlife and of the conference is: “Be. Build. Begin.” They want to help people BE a disciple, then BUILD a disciple-making ministry, and finally BEGIN a disciple-making movement. That sounds great! #LetsGo!
He also introduced Sonlife‘s new 2×2 initiative. Sonlife is actually making all of their resources available online for FREE in electronic format. They are also significantly lowering the price of their physical resources and selling them in a 2×2 format. Buy One, Get One FREE. The purpose is because their resources are not meant to be used on your own. They are a disciple-making ministry, so they want you to use their resources AND share one with someone you are discipling. Pretty cool!
Next there were some interviews from the stage about some great disciple-making ministries and opportunities. Greg Stier (CEO of Dare 2 Share) talked about Lead THE Cause (LTC), which is an event that we will be leading musical worship for later in the year in Austin, TX and Washington, D.C. It is an amazing event for teens!
After the interviews, Dave Patty spoke about BEing a disciple. He spoke a lot about the Father heart of God. It was an incredible teaching! Dave is the founder of a ministry called “Josiah Venture“, which is a ministry that is equipping young leaders throughout Central and Eastern Europe to fulfill Christ’s commission through the local church.
Dave was an amazing teacher! He has a gift of opening up the scriptures and teaching the word of God in a way that really illuminates the text and resonates deeply. After he spoke on Tuesday night, we led a couple of songs:
1. Great Are You Lord
2. Good Good Father
We had originally intended to play “Lion and the Lamb” after “Great Are You Lord”, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to end the night with “Good Good Father”. I’m glad that we made the change. The song really fit the message and closed out the night nicely.
On Wednesday morning I led an acoustic chapel service for 30 minutes for anyone who wanted to show up to sing and pray. It was rich time of connecting with God to get the day going.
We spent the day in training sessions, learning from some incredible men of God about what it practically looks like to make disciples who make disciples. We ate lunch at a food truck. Several of them showed up and we got to pick whatever we wanted to eat. That was fun.
For the evening session, we opened with:
1. 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
2. Everywhere I Go
3. Here I Am to Worship
I also closed the music time with a song / prayer of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”.
Dave Patty spoke again, and he spoke about BUILDing a disciple-making ministry by really thinking about our words and actions and how we are building others up. It was fantastic!
The next and final day, we did it all again with the chapel service in the morning, the training throughout the day, the food trucks, and closing session. We led:
1. We Live (for the Glory of God)
2. Chain Breaker
3. O Come to the Altar
It was a powerful time. I really felt like “O Come to the Altar” was connecting! Dave Patty spoke again, this time about BEGINing a disciple-making movement. He spoke from John 4 and encouraged us to change what we see and what we do to line up with what Jesus saw and did. It really was a message that reminded us of the importance of personal relational evangelism. It was a great word! After the message, we closed the session with:
- No Matter the Cost
- Mighty To Save
Following “Mighty To Save”, we went right into the chorus of “The Stand” and ended with no music, but just our voices loudly declaring:
With arms high and heart abandoned
Of the One who gave it all
My soul LORD to You surrendered
All I am
We walked off of the stage and Doug Holliday came on to close the conference in prayer.
After packing up our stuff, we hit the road and drove through the night to beat the forecasted huge winter storm.
We beat it. But it required a decent amount of Coca-Cola Classic.