I was asked to lead worship last night at the Epworth Camp Meeting. I was very excited to go because I love old camp meetings. There is something very special about those dedicated times.
Epworth is a Methodist campground that has had people gather for over 100 years in the summer to seek the Lord. Their song leader for the last many years passed away after camp last year, and this year they were interested in trying things a little different.
So they asked me if I would bring in a band and try and connect with the young people. See, I’m not that old ;). Apparently, last night was a first in some ways for the camp as far as worship styles. There were many there who have been a part of the camp for literally decades.
Don’t get me wrong, I love leading worship anywhere I get the opportunity, but there was something very special about last night.
- Simple. I loved showing up somewhere, putting instruments down, and just playing. I brought a crew from North Side Worship and we did a quick soundcheck and led. It was just simple. Much of the worship and the sermon was based around the Holy Spirit (even though I didn’t know the preacher was going to preach on that). There wasn’t flash or expectations, just people excited to enter the presence of the Lord.
- Sweaty. It was hot. I mean these camp meetings have the fans blowing on stage which I appreciate, but it was still hot. I had mosquitoes attacking me at every turn. At one point, I looked back and Cory looked like Pigpen with flies circling his head. Dust on the ground. Bugs swooping. Fluorescent bulbs illuminating. And if you were there it’s because you really wanted to be there. And that’s why I loved it.
- Sincere. I think there is a purifying factor that happens when conditions aren’t the most comfortable in the world. If you are OK with simple and sweaty, you will give a worship that is sincere. It was a wonderful time of seeing young people and old people connect over biblical songs. I had an older gentlemen come up afterwards (in addition to many other seniors who did), and say “we have never seen anything like what happened tonight. Will you come back?” I don’t think we did anything special, I just think God aligned a lot of neat things last night and made it very special (more on that later). But from the youngest to the oldest, there was just a sincere spirit of worship last night that was so refreshing.
Mosquitoes and worship. In a time when we work so hard at making sure the worship environments are just right, it was refreshing to worship with some people when it was not. So, I guess in one sense, the setting was spot on.