Almost every week, I hear from pastors asking if I can recommend someone to lead worship for their congregation. Most of these are smaller churches or new church plants with limited resources.
Most of the time I do not have anyone to recommend, and it saddens my heart knowing there are people who need a leader but have no options. I feel strongly that we must take seriously this opportunity to invest in the future of worship ministry for the sake of building the Kingdom.
About 18 years ago, I had a meeting with my worship team that changed the DNA of the worship ministry at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas. We decided that we had two purposes as a ministry. First, we wanted to provide an environment in our worship experiences where people could encounter a Holy God. Second, we wanted to invest in our young people and train up the next generation of worshipers. Since that day, we have made the training of worshipers a priority.
We created a system of training that has produced many worship leaders and worship musicians that are serving at our church and in many other churches across the country. This did not happen overnight and everything we do in our church will not necessarily work in your church. My deepest hope is that something you read here will stir you to begin to disciple people in your church to become leaders of worship instead of mere musicians.
Children are the best place to start, and we did that with our Kids Choir. I know that many churches have abandoned this concept, but we changed the thought process from training performers to sing to training children to worship. We have more than 600 children in our choirs now because we have formed a tradition of excellence and parents want their kids involved in our program.
We use these children on a regular basis to lead our church in worship in multi-generational services with adults or students and our older children (3rd-5th grade) even lead by themselves. We use children that serve as leaders to sing with live bands for our Kids Church services and to help lead worship for VBS and camps during the summer. We have produced several CDs, and as of 2014, our curriculum will be the official children’s choir curriculum for LifeWay.
Middle school & high school students in our church have opportunities to serve in choirs, worship bands and in an instrumental training program called Amplify. Like our Kids Choirs, these groups lead worship in multiple venues at our church and for the main services in both a multi-generational format or by themselves with student bands playing for student choirs.
The Amplify team trains players by using adults that are professional or highly experienced to prepare students to play in a worship band setting. We then give each trainee the opportunity to play with a live band in several venues like Kids Church, youth services and outreach events. This experience gives them both confidence in the band setting and the excitement of seeing God use their talent at a young age.
These students are not only playing and leading vocals for our church, but they are now being invited to sub for area other churches when there is a need. Several of our students who graduated out of our programs and are in college are playing or leading in congregations where they worship in their university settings. Some students have chosen worship or ministry as their area of study in college.
We also created a School of Fine Arts that teaches private lessons in both instrumental and vocal music. Instructors are CBC members that participate in our worship ministry and they are required to include current worship music in their curriculum. Many of our Fine Arts students have actually become worship leaders and staff members in our church and several have even returned to teach in our school. Additionally, we have a training class for sound engineering that has trained many sound techs for churches in our area.
A local worship leader roundtable was created to meet several times a year to encourage, train and network resources with churches all over the area. This began with three local worship leaders and has as many as 28 churches involved.
About This Series
The articles in this Building Strong Worship Leaders series are written by church leaders committed to intentionally training people about worship. Their churches are reaping the benefits–and they gladly pass on ideas and suggestions of how your church can too! This series is presented by Pastors.com, in partnership with Next Level Worship, a ministry providing quality worship discipleship resources to churches. Go to NextLevelWorship.com to register for free and exclusive coaching webinars for the Pastors.com community.
For more than 42 years, Ray Jones has lead worship in local churches. He has served churches in Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. He has led worship for many conferences, revivals and he is a frequent speaker at worship events. He currently serves as the Pastor of Worship Ministries at the Community Bible Church in San Antonio TX. He has served there for over 20 years and it has become one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in the nation.