I left Nashville last Tuesday headed to Chicago for STORY. Wednesday was set-up with the sponsors and getting last minute details ironed out. The event started on Thursday and my expectations were high, but what I actually experienced blew me away. It was truly an experience, not just a conference. Helping out with this year’s event meant I didn’t catch a lot of what happened in the auditorium but I did catch some and all of it was incredible.
I’ve been trying to find words that seem sufficient in describing the experience but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not possible and maybe that’s okay. So, I decided I would share some of my favorite moments in hopes that they paint a small picture for you of what STORY is all about.
#1 (Favorite program moment): Letting in the Light
It was late Friday afternoon, clean-up had begun, and I was racing around looking for someone to get a question answered. I stepped into the auditorium at Park to look for that person and Princess Zulu was just finishing her talk. I stopped to listen as she challenged me to think about when my story and her story would intertwine. After she prayed in her native language (one of many spoken in Africa) Sons & Daughters went into their last set. If you haven’t heard their song “All the Poor & Powerless” go to their website and check it out. A couple of minutes into the song the music swells. At that moment the curtains behind the stage in Park’s worship center opened up and light flooded the room. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it now. 500+ people singing “Shout it, Go on and tell it to the masses” with their whole hearts as we were all looking at the Chicago skyline that had just been unveiled behind the curtains…powerful!
As someone who has a passion for the visual aspects of worship it was incredible to see the power that simply opening up the windows can have…it far exceeded anything that could have been put up on a screen at that moment in time. I’ve been struggling lately with the fact that I find it hard to worship with complete abandon in corporate worship settings. That often isn’t the place where I’m moved to tears and my heart feels like it’s going to explode in awe, wonder, and worship of my God. At that moment I was worshipping with complete abandon with 500 other people and it was incredible. God was glorified.
#2: Friday Clean-Up
The volunteers that gave their time to help with STORY were incredible! The event ended at 5:00pm on Friday afternoon. I was fully anticipating being at Park cleaning up until at least 9:00. By 6:15 we had three fourths of what needed to be done done. It’s always powerful to see a group of people united by a common vision and focus come together to make something happen and the STORY volunteers did just that! If you were one of them, THANK YOU!!
#3: Working with the STORY team
The team that Ben Arment put together for this event was stellar. Not only were they all extremely talented but we had a ton of fun working together. Sitting around dinner Friday night and sharing highlights from the week along with lots of laughs was a great moment. I am truly blessed to know each of them. At the end of the day, a team is only as good as it’s leader and I was honored to follow Ben this week. He embodies the heart of a servant leader. Check out his recap here.
Beyond the amazing program moments of STORY the people are what took it over the top. It felt a bit like a large family retreat of creatives from all over the Church. I left Chicago with deeper friendships, new friendships, and a very full heart. I also left encouraged as an artist and with a deep sense of hope for the Church. For that I am incredibly grateful.
Were you at STORY? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. – Check out the STORY photostream on Flickr to see what went down at STORY.