Friday, July 24, 2009

Advice for high school seniors who want to be worship leaders

This year, I have several students that are graduating and considering pursuing worship ministry. Many of them are asking what they should do next - i.e. where they should go to school - Christian Colleges that offer worship/music degrees, secular colleges that offer music/performance degrees, specialized schools that equip worship leaders, etc. I'm trying to get some feedback from the worship community and see what preparation people have found helpful. I know there are a lot of valid paths that God uses to prepare people for His service. I would love to hear some personal recommendations from people that have actually attended different schools/events. I just want to be able to present the best options to my students that will prepare them for what God has next!

Here's my background. I attended a state school and got a degree in English with a Minor in Guitar while volunteering at a local church the whole time gaining valuable experience. I then attended seminary and earned a M.Div with a specialization in worship leading. I loved both my college and my seminary experiences - they were very different but prepared me in specific ways to minister in my current context.

I'm really thankful that I didn't get a full Music Degree - it would just be overkill for the amount of musical preparation that is needed to lead contemporary worship. I'm not knocking music education - just saying that I'm glad my seminary degree placed a higher emphasis on theological education. Of the two, I feel like theological education is a higher priority for the worship leader. Minoring in Music and taking additional music classes at seminary proved to be the right combination for me. Since seminary, I've grown to appreciate even more the theological and pastoral training that I gained. Those tools have proved truly useful in ministry.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I've also posted this question at the following forums so feel free to check what other people are saying at worshiptherock and the worship community.


Justin said...

I am currently in my senior year at Liberty University working on a major in Worship and Music Studies with a specialization in Worship Leadership. It has been absolutely amazing thus far. The kinda of things we learn are necessary and very practical. In music theory, for instance, we learn all about voice leading, jazz theory, and bach, but we also learn about how to write out chord charts and practice doing take downs of contemporary christian songs.

As for theology they also have that nailed down. Well, we can always learn more, but they are pretty focussed on it. Every teacher is truly in love with God and each is so passionate about learning and equipping young worship leaders.

I know it's not for everyone, but I tell everyone I know that wants to be a worship leader to at least check it out. It's at least worth going to a college for a weekend and sitting in on some classes in there.

Good luck on your mentoring!

Andrew said...

I did a BS in Religion at Liberty too, and stuck around for my M.A.R in worship studies there at LBTS. I also did an internship at FBC Woodstock and played on the campus praise band, so I did get a huge amount of knowledge and experience along the way!

But for those students who may not have upwards of 100k to attend LU for 4 years, or another private college, my church launched a worship school 4 years ago. 10 months of intense discipleship, music, theology and practical training in worship leading. The cost is a fraction of a 4 year degree, and students who attend can obviously still finish up a 4 year degree anywhere (some attend after they finish a 4 year degree). Check it out-we love it!