I just finished up a great weekend at Rosedale Bible College in Irwin, OH. I had the privilege of leading a Worship Ministry Seminar.
Polen led worship for the seminar (along with Heather Schlabach and Kayla Schlabach singing background vocals). Rocky Favia, Jr. also contributed to the seminar.
On Friday evening we opened the weekend seminar with a simple time of corporate worship. For many of the worship leaders and musicians in attendance, this was the first time in a LONG time that they have had the opportunity to just be in the congregation and worship God without the responsibility of leading others. It was a rich time of worship.
We followed the “Opening Worship” session with an equally important time of snacks and fellowship. While this may seem silly, it was actually an essential part of the weekend. While we gathered around snacks and coffee, we mingled and got to know each. We shared stories and passions and learned about the churches that we have the privilege of leading in worship each week.
After the “Snacks” session, we ended the night with roughly an hour of “Q&A”. All of the musicians sat in front of the stage and we simply entered into a conversation with everyone in the room. Someone would ask a question from the audience, and someone (or several people) would give their best shot at an answer. It was a great dialogue, and it was good to hear both questions and answers from the audience. Q&A may have been the highlight of the weekend.
We started the seminar back up on Saturday morning with a general session called “the Dynamics of a Worship Band”. This was an interesting session in which we would lead worship one song at a time, stopping after each song to talk about what was happening within the song and how each instrument played their part to contribute to the whole. Towards the end of the session we had each musician talk about how they approach a song for their particular instrument, and what they are thinking while they are playing. Heather also spoke about how vocalists approach a song. I believe this was a very helpful and practical session, and it also led very well into our first Breakout Session.
During the first Breakout Session, each instrumentalist went into further detail on their particular instrument in a classroom setting. Nate Brown taught audio & video. I taught acoustic guitar. Keith Byler taught bass guitar. Nick Mast taught drums. Elijah Beachy taught electric guitar. Mark Rowe taught keyboard / piano. Heather Schlabach and Kayla Schlabach taught vocals together.
The second Breakout Session was a little different. I taught “Leading Worship on a Budget”. Keith Byler taught “Working with Volunteers”. Rocky Favia, Jr. taught “Songwriting”. I think that these sessions were great, and super helpful for worship leaders or individuals who are interested in songwriting, but in hindsight, I wish we would have offered one more session taught by the rest of the band called “Being a Great Volunteer/Team Player”. I think many of the people who attended the conference were not really interested in learning more about the three great topics that were being covered, because they are not actually worship leaders or songwriters. They are simply musicians who love their church and want to serve well. I wish we would have offered something more helpful to them, but we did not. We definitely will next time.
After the Breakout Sessions, we came back together for another general session called “A Tale of Three Worship Leaders”. Keith Byler, Rocky Favia, Jr., and I spent some time explaining our individual worship journeys -how we wound up in the position of leading worship for our local church. We also spoke about how we practically organize and lead our worship team, and what worship means to us personally. I think this was a helpful session, but I also think people were pretty tired by this point in the weekend. They had already taken in a lot of information, and it was now 2:30 in the afternoon.
We opened up the floor for another round of “Q&A” with the three worship leaders on stage, and then we ended the Worship Ministry Seminar with a time of closing worship (similar to how we began the seminar). After several songs we prayed over the worshipers in attendance and invited them to receive personal prayer if they wanted. Elijah Beachy, Keith Byler, Rocky Favia, Jr., and Nick Mast stood in front of the stage ready to pray for people as I sang a few songs over the congregation. We commissioned them to go forth in the mighty power of God to lead their people into an awareness of the presence of God through worship.
Being a worship leader is a high calling. We were reminded of this as I expounded on the story of King Jehoshaphat sending the worshipers out to battle in front of the army (see 2 Chronicles 20). When we worship, the forces of darkness are being pushed back. Heaven is invading earth. Lives are changed. Hearts are healed. Minds are transformed. All of this (and so much more) happens through the power of the Spirit of God as we worship the LORD Jesus to the glory of God the Father.
Since leading worship is such a high calling, we want to do it well. That is what the Worship Ministry Seminar was all about. The theme for the weekend was Psalm 33:1-3:
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
(Psalm 33:1-3 ESV)
We do plan to do a similar seminar again next year. If you are interested in having something like this at your church or in your area, feel free to contact me.