Seminars 4 Worship Guest Review

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.


6 responses to “Seminars 4 Worship Guest Review”

  1. Theron Avatar

    “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.””– WHAT!!!!!!!!

    “Less effective” Did they have these times of corporate of “Worship” for people to analyze what they are doing with their personal mix’s and the fog machines (which might lead me to believe that they were) Or was it to Worship the King of Kings The Lord of Lords, and usher you and all, that were there into His presence. I would hope and pray for the Latter. I have sat under some great teaching in my very short life. One of those teachings challenges me maybe more then any other, and that is about our “Worship Eyes” What kind of eyes do I have; BLIND – Where i can only Worship in comfort place where i know all the songs and the music is just right and all that. CLOUDED – Where maybe sometimes I can brake through a few of those and connect with God in those times “if i get lucky”. OPEN – Where i can Worship God in any “Worship” service even if i don’t know the songs or if the band sucks or if its just a pipe organ and a choir.
    Let me encourage You, Worship God with Open eyes in any setting it is so freeing, to get over the analyzing and “i can do better then that” and all the comparing that brings no Glory to God. I am speaking from a place where i do those things constantly, and am missing out on so much that God has for me in those times, even though those times aren’t about me, For some reason and i love it, God meets us when Worship Him, He doesn’t need to but He wants to, and when i chose to “pick” at what is happening instead of fully engaging with Father i miss out on His Grace which is displayed when He reaches back at His Children when they are Worshiping Him.

    I hope i don’t come off as some Jerk, that was not my Goal at all, My Goal is to Push and Challenge our thinking today Especially when it comes to that word “Worship”. It gets thrown out there way to much and is missed used all to often. I hope my words come to you as a Challenge as Iron sharps Iron, and maybe you can spit some words back my way to sharpen me up a bit as well.

    I will note that a lot of what you wrote in your review was good, the things you learned there will help, but there is no formula for Worship. Be led by the spirit at all times.


  2. Darren Avatar

    Theron, I’m not sure if you will get this, since it’s over a month old, but I just found the comment.

    I appreciate your insight, and to some extent I agree, especially about the analogy of the different worship eyes.

    But in my opinion, the entire 2nd half of Exodus, to say nothing of Leviticus, directly opposes your thesis that “there is no formula for worship.”

    It’s kind of like the sacraments. We do not hold that God is bound to dispensing grace only through the sacraments, but we do hold that He has promised to do so. And so we use the “formulas” that He has set up – we baptize in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, rather than using ketchup and baptizing into the name of “the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier.”

    A baptism that is done sloppily and casually, or under emergency circumstances, conveys just as much grace as one done with all the “bells and whistles,” including consecrated salt, exorcisms, and candles. But is the latter not a better sign of what is truly going on?

    Similarly, a worship service that uses completely unfamiliar elements will not communicate how God is to be worshipped as effectively as one that is more familiar. This is because we are human and designed to work this way, not because of any failing on God’s part. And it appears to work the same for angels; seraphim, the most perfect example of worship in the Bible (Isaiah 6), use one song/saying for their entire existence.

    You didn’t come off as a jerk at all. I probably could have expressed myself more clearly regarding what I meant by “effective.”

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