Over the last weeks, we have been on a journey of worship transition for East City Church (see story). Providing a healthy road to transition requires much intentionality, hard work, and prayer. In the last chapter of this story, we see that the existing worship pastor/minister of music needs some retooling to prepare him for the task at hand.

East City Church’s minister of music was trained in the traditional approach to worship with little exposure to today’s contemporary styles, and several areas of contemporary worship seem somewhat foreign. This is a time that this leader should immerse himself in improving existing skills, acquiring new skills, becoming conversant in modern worship music, etc.

hymn-leaderI was classically trained in music in college, and was provided an excellent seminary education in a very traditional style. I had very little to no preparation for styles of worship that are so prevalent today. I remember when I first became familiar with a “praise and worship” style of worship in the 90s, I was so hungry to learn more about the style and how to lead worship in that format as well. I read every book I could get my hands on. I listened to audio recordings that provided instruction. I attended several worship conferences. My desire to expand my understanding of worship and ability to speak more than just the traditional language was insatiable. As worship leaders, we must constantly seek to improve and expand our ministries.

Here are some things that East City Church should consider in helping retool their minister of music:

  • Determine what help the worship leader desires and seek ways to help with meeting those needs.
  • Find a good church the worship leader could attend that models what your church is seeking? Ministers of music don’t get out much to see what is happening in other churches. Giving their worship leader time off to attend other churches might be eye opening and help them catch a vision for what change will look like. Many worship leaders that are traditionally trained eroneously think that providing a more contemporary feel to a service merely requires taking the current worship plan, erasing a hymn, and replacing it with a song written in the last 20-30 years. This idea falls far short of reality.
  • Look at changes in the worship leadership model that will need to take place and help the worship leader gain these needed skills. For instance, rather than conducting the congregation from behind the pulpit, the worship leader would take on a role as a singer/worship leader in a vocal team. The style of singing may need to be adjusted.
  • Explore how the worship preparation/rehearsals will look different after the change. Everything from worship planning to conducting rehearsals and casting vision will need to be adjusted. If the minister of music has not had exposure to newer forms of worship, he may need much help in understanding and implementing these areas.
  • Provide needed training in contemporary forms of worship music.I cannot stress this one enough. One major concern I have is the minister of music who does not see the gap between their current skills and understanding and the skills and understanding needed for the newer forms of worship. Often these leaders stagnate, not seeing any need for improvement and failing to adequately lead worship transition.
  •  Encourage participation in a Worship Leader Boot Camp. More info at www.WorshipLeaderBootCamps.org. One of the primary purposes of the Worship Leader Boot Camps held across North Carolina is to help the church and worship leaders retool to renew their worship with biblical integrity and musical excellence.
The bottom line: it is imperative that East City Church’s minister of music understand what is needed, see his deficiencies, and passionately seek to overcome those obstacles. Anything short of this prescription for worship transition will cause the process to have struggles.