Reflections from FILO 2021 Chicago

It has been a few weeks since we hosted FILO 2021 Chicago, and I’ve been reflecting on what an amazing experience it was. And along with that, wondering why it was such an amazing experience.

Like any good event producer, I like to analyze why something went well or why it didn’t go as planned. As part of that process, we sent out a survey to people who attended our event to see what their experience was like, and we got a whole range of responses. Some people loved everything and some people loved nothing. It is definitely a lesson in “it is impossible to please everyone.”

But what is most significant to me is how much the worship time means to people who attend FILO. As a group of people, we are typically “working” during worship at our churches. Our form of worship involves making sure every distraction is eliminated; creating an environment where others have an opportunity to experience God first hand. At the FILO Conference, we take care of everything so that everyone attending can just focus on their own personal worship time. They don’t have to worry about the lighting, the audio mix and what font to use for the lyrics.

FILO 2021 Chicago Worship

And over the last 6 years, I have been amazed by my own personal worship experience at FILO. It is the highlight of my year. Nothing compares to it. And I know I’m not alone. Even talking to the worship team and the FILO crew, this is a top personal worship experience for many of us.

Why is that?

Is it the song selection? Is it the people in the band? Is it the mix? The lighting? The perfect camera shots?

In reality, there is nothing special about the ingredients in the worship experience at FILO. However, I believe one of the key factors is each person’s expectations.

We have experienced God at FILO during worship in the past and we expect Him to show up again. The people in the seats expect to meet God. The people on stage expect to meet God. And then we do.

While I believe that God is ever-present and that He is everywhere always, I think I am more apt to miss out on His presence because I don’t expect to find it all the time. I’m just living my life each day.

When I think about how I show up in the booth to work a service, am I expecting to meet with God or am I just trying to get the task list done? I am mostly expectant for problems: late message graphics, late drummer, Dante issues…you know what I’m talking about.

I expect us to do our best to make no mistakes. I expect to be prepared. I expect to go through the motions. I expect to check my email during the second service message.

I don’t believe I really think this way, but it is the way I behave. And besides, meeting with God in our services is for other people. That’s why I’m there, to help others have an opportunity to be with God.

However, what if I showed up each week expecting God to show up, not just for others, but for me personally? Or if I believed that the production team could experience God in a new way, not just produce a flawless service?

How do we keep ourselves in a state of expectancy each week? How do we stay engaged with what God wants to meet us for? Not simply showing up to get a job done, but showing up waiting for God to do something miraculous.

Whether I am expecting God to move or not, doesn’t affect what God does. It does however affect what I do and my awareness of what God is up to.

Doesn’t that seem like a better way to come to church this weekend? Not just getting a job done (because we still have to do that!) but knowing that God is present and waiting to meet with each of us.

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