I’m honored to work at North Point Community Church, and we’re 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
Aaron from Michigan had asked: What kind of worship training do you have in place?
The first part of my answer is here – I suggest you read that first to get caught up.
OK, so we talked about a natural WL making their way through the ranks, a sort of natural progression that reflects their ever-maturing abilities, and may also reflect their age.
I’ve noticed over time that WLs naturally come together. It’s weird. I think younger guys that have an interest in that area gravitate towards older, more experienced WLs. They introduce themselves, ask questions, and eventually build relationships. The key is for them to find a veteran WL that actually WILL answer their questions and kind of take them under their wing. You ask certain WLs around here and you’d get a consensus that one of the unspoken responsibilities of a veteran WL is to help raise up the next generation. BEWARE the veteran WL that doesn’t have that instinct, or that younger guys are not approaching.
I know that vets like Todd Fields, Danny Dukes, Steve Fee and Mike Gleason have had significant influence in our next generation of guys like Kristian Stanfill, Eddie Kirkland, James David Carter, Ryan Stuart, Casey Darnell and Brett Younker.
Now this next thought is where we can all get a bit off track if we’re not very careful and very discerning. And don’t get me wrong – we sure don’t have this perfected. We’re all in the learning phase for this:
I believe there are people that can sell a song, like a radio tune, very well. They are the gifted Performers. I also believe there are gifted Worship Leaders, ones that effectively lead people in worship to their Heavenly Father by having an authentic, unbridled and contagious passion for Him, and being vulnerable to a group, earning their respect. Unfortunately, those are two different skill sets that very few people possess.
A good parallel is Jim Carey as Ace Ventura, and then trying to take him seriously as a skilled drama actor. Yeah, tough isn’t it? Or what about Tom Hanks going from Bosom Buddies to Forest Gump and Castaway?
No one took them seriously in their first drama roles, but they worked hard at discovering the passion of acting that was naturally inside of them, and eventually won critical acclaim.
I believe that the same is possible for SOME of those great song-sellers, as long as the passion for leading others in worship is INthem. It might take a while to reveal, but if it’s in there, then it’s worth helping them discover and embrace it. I can think of a couple guys that we are involved with that are brilliant at performing a song – they’ve done it for years on a professional level. Yet only in the last few years have they begun to discover and develop their gifts as a corporate WL.
But when it’s all said and done, it’s got to be in their HEARTS to be that vulnerable, passionate personality, and not just performing worship tunes in front of yet another audience. That’s a tough road that you, as their leadership, must travel with them, often having to make some painful observations, and possibly some difficult decisions. Uggh – that’s not fun, trust me!
Here’s one gauge: How much do they reveal OFF stage, in a safe environment? That’s probably a good indication of how transparent, authentic and passionate they’ll be ON stage. Just a thought…
On the flip side, having a gifted WL perform that mainstream radio hit as a special opener isn’t always the best idea, either! (That’s why God made those great performers! Please don’t disrespect them if they’re not gifted WLs – they do serve an important purpose in captivating an audience and effectively communicating the message of a song!!)
Who’s lead YOU to engage in worship lately?
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!