Below is a guest Review of seminars4worship by a worship leader friend in in the same communion Darren Jones. I will have my personal review up next week now that I’m psuedo back to normal..He writes:
My name is Darren Jones. I serve as a worship leader at Church of the Holy Spirit, Charismatic Episcopal Church in Stephens City, Virginia. I play keyboard and am the lead singer for our worship team. I have been leading worship at Church of the Holy Spirit for a year-and-a-half; before then, I had often helped out by playing either keyboard or piano at various churches since 1992.
Last week I attended a worship seminar in Lancaster Pennsylvania put on by Integrity Media. The seminar was called “Journey to the Heart of Worship.” I found the seminar very helpful in many ways. The group sessions were conducted by Ross Parsley of New Life Church in Colorado Springs; and Don Moen, executive vice-president of Integrity Media. Parsley focused on an exegesis of Isaiah 6 and drew insights from that passage on our role as a worship leader. He emphasized that our ministry is to people and that music is merely the tool that we use to lead them to God. He encouraged us that the sign of a good worship ministry in a church was that people’s lives would be transformed into a Christ-like life. Don Moen offered practical tips and questions that we should ask ourselves as worship leaders, such as “Who is your audience?” and “What do you expect when you come together?” He encouraged us that God is always working in ways we cannot see, and finished by encouraging us not to manipulate emotions, i.e. not to finish in the flesh what began in the spirit.
I attended six different workshops during the time; each one was for one hour and fifteen minutes. Two of them, led by Leann Albrecht and Craig Dunnagan, specifically dealt with the art of worship leading. For example, Albrecht focused on leadership relationships between the pastor and the worship leader, as well as among the worship team members. She also went through practical tips regarding set list and flow factors, and the relationship between horizontal and vertical songs. She ended with a time of discussion about “coming off the page,” that is, being led by the Spirit in worship time. Dunnagan stressed that we should lead worship from a foundation of our own private worship. He pointed out as well that leading worship is a pastoral role and the worship leaders should recognize themselves as nurturers as well as singers/instrumentalists. He encouraged us to be meticulous in our attention to detail and to pick excellent songs (with a stress on theologically accurate songs). The workshop by Lenny LeBlanc was also geared toward worship leaders, although his presentation did not contain much material; it was more of a discussion time. He gave several practical suggestions for how to flow from praise song or hymn, into a time of “free worship.”
The other workshops that I attended focused more on the technical aspects. Brian Doerksen gave a presentation on “becoming a songwriter who serves the church.” One thing that stood out to me from this workshop was a question that he asked as to whether the modern church had any lament/grief songs. Psalms is full of such songs, but most modern churches simply do not have access to any hymnody that could be used in times of grief. In addition, he encouraged songwriting only when something needs to be said in a song that you can’t find anywhere else. He encouraged searching for songs, whether old or new, before trying to come up with a new one just for the sake of novelty. He stressed the hard work that is necessary in songwriting. The other two workshops that I took, one by Chris Springer on keyboard techniques and the other by Sherri Gould on vocal techniques, were both very helpful in giving practical advice. Springer had a handout with various transitions and modulations between songs and during verses. He encouraged the keyboard to be flexible based on the number of people in the worship team, rather than trying to lead all the time. Gould talked about vocal healthcare and then demonstrated several vocal techniques for increasing power, tone, and endurance in singing.
There were two times of public worship that I participated in during the seminar. The first was led by Brian Doerksen, the second by Sherri Gould. Both of them made full use of modern technology, including three screens with both words and images in the background, roving spotlights, fog machines, and individual mixers for the musicians and singers. These worship times reinforced my view that people must be familiar with the music in order to effectively use it to worship; as I only knew about half of the songs, the times of worship were less effective for me than for many others there. In the evenings, there were two concerts, one on Thursday and one on Friday. I did not attend either of these. The Friday night one allowed for participation by the seminar attendees who desired to do so, as they attended a choir practice as one of their workshops.
The entire seminar was very professional and well worth the amount of money that I paid. I came home with several books that I had purchased there, pages of notes, and many musical techniques that I could immediately begin implementing in Sunday worship.