Sunday, April 29, 2007

Morning worship with Dan Forrest

This morning our church had the privilege of meeting Dan Forrest and his wife, Addy. My only knowledge of Addy has been through Sharper Iron. However, I’ve felt for some time now that I knew at least the heart of Dan. I’ve gotten to know him a bit through his choral arrangements. Our choir has sung a number of his arrangements, and they all share a couple of things in common. First, they are beautiful! Although they are sometimes difficult (I sing bass and have become comfortable with the standard 3 or 4 note part in a song…Dan incorporates a few more notes than that), these arrangements have a wonderful sound. Secondly, Dan has arranged these pieces in such a way that they really “tell the story” that the lyrics are conveying. The music compliments and adds weight to the words. Now, having said all that, I wasn’t sure what to expect this morning.

I didn’t know if Dan sang, preached, or played the accordion. I didn’t know if this was going to be some sort of a “concert”, or “Christian music 101”, or if there would simply be a couple of songs and a sermon. What we got, however, was a wonderful time of being led in worship by an incredibly humble and gifted young man.

Dan began the service by giving us a bit of his philosophy of music, composing, and worship. He was careful to point out that, as a composer, he attempts to “paint the text” of the songs he composes and arranges. He challenged us to pay attention to the lyrics of the music he was going to play (provided to us via PowerPoint), and to engage ourselves in complete worship. He challenged us to not be lazy, but to worship actively with our minds, heart, and emotions. He then played three sets of three songs – all familiar, doctrinally rich hymns – which focused on Christ…his majesty, mission, work, and supremacy.

I was seated in the back center row of the auditorium with my family. Half way through the first song, I noticed something interesting…nobody was looking at Dan. This dear brother had successfully diverted all attention from himself and to the message of Christ. This was something I’d not experienced in a "concert-type presentation" before, and I must say it was wonderful. I found myself enthralled as I focused on the lyrics, and Dan’s music just added to it – it turned out to be a wonderful time of corporate worship.

As a “worship leader” Dan Forrest is immensely gifted. As a composer, we will be talking about Dan Forrest for years to come. But what most impressed me was his spirit of humility. He didn’t have a desire to be front and center….he simply wanted to lead us in a time of worship. It was absolutely marvelous!

At the end of our time together I spoke very briefly with Dan. He mentioned that I was a much larger man than he had anticipated (at nearly 6’4” and 250 lbs., this is something I’m accustomed to hearing!). He then mentioned that he’d gotten a mental picture of me from reading me at SharperIron. This led me to the conclusion that I must come off as rather puny and wimpy in my writing…I may try to correct that!
My wife comforted me tonight by telling me that when people read highly intellectual articles such as I write, they aren’t going to typically walk away with the impression that a dashing, strong, athletic, and remarkably handsome person such as I was also gifted with mental abilities to write in this manner….she’s really a wonderful woman. A terrible liar, but a wonderful wife!

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