I’m honored to work at North Point Community Church, and flattered when folks from all over send us questions on how we do music and stuff, from over-arching philosophies to the logistical nuts and bolts.
We, as the music department, have taken a lot of time an effort to answer dozens of these questions at North Point Music, but there are some great ones worth sharing with y’all. If you care, that is 😉
This is from Aaron in Michigan: What kind of worship training do you have in place?
Well, Aaron, there’s no one specific “training” regimen in place. No set markers or milestones, written exam or scouting program. That doesn’t help, does it?
Instead, let me address this from 3 sides: 1 – the Worship Leader, 2 – the band musician, and 3 – the background singer. These are all lengthy topics, so let’s just cover WL’s right now.
Finding a great Worship Leader is beyond tough. And, as a kicker, I’ve found over my 20 years in church music that most people that think they are a gifted Worship Leader aren’t! Lots of people can sing a song very well. Fewer people can lead a body of believers in worship.
I think the heart is the first thing to look at. The second is transparency. That is the root, the seed of a great worship leader. Unraveling a junk load of “Christianese” on the congregation is just that: junk. I’m not impressed or moved by a WL’s eloquent, rehearsed verbage. Instead, talk to me like you and I have been best buddies for years. That sounds tough, and it is. Sometimes it’s just natural, or second nature to do that, like Steve Fee or Danny Dukes, and sometimes it involves some time to evolve – maybe with some mild coaching, or just from experience, like one of my favorite WLs Todd Fields. Either way, the heart needs to be evident and the soul needs to be transparent.
My gut tells me that believers are not moved by fancy words, fake smiles and programmed “worship” moves (the pre-meditated eye close or hand raise, etc.). More importantly, I believe that non-Christians can see right through that, and are nauseated.
Now where to find a great Worship Leader? Hint: They’re already leading worship. Somewhere. With NO EGO. And chances are they have been at it for years because it’s IN them to do that – in their soul, it’s WHO they are, not just WHAT they do.
They might start by leading the toddlers in the nursery, then the grade school kids. Then more experience by leading the middle schoolers, and then really refining their craft leading the high schoolers. (Man, if you can lead High School kids, you can lead anyone). Now that’s not the only way to find great WLs, but you can’t deny that that gradual, growing process separates the wheat from the chaff. Or something like that… (Iron sharpens iron? Cream rises to the top? Separates the men from the boys? Insert your preferred cliché here…)
Once those novice WLs have “risen” to a certain, high level (and not by their own self-promotion, but by discerning leadership in those areas who actually know what they’re talking about), then some high-level apprenticing can start. OK, let me rephrase that: Apprenticing can start right from the start, but only after a great deal of experience can an apprentice learn to become a master. That’s very “Kung Fu”, but I think you know what I mean.
OK, this is a good place to pause, because that’s a lot to digest. It’s nowhere near a complete answer, but we’ll pick up from there next time…
Who are YOU apprenticing?
NOTE: These are opinions of the participants, and no organization mentioned or affiliated can be held responsible if you use these opinions in an un-wise way. Duh!