I have given the better portion of 40 years of my life to worship leading in some form or another. I was on church platforms at age 15 as a youth music minister with a guitar strapped on me, leading congregations in gospel songs, hymns, and 70s contemporary Christian music with my mom and brothers. By my college and early married years in the 1980s, I had shifted over to piano and digital keyboards to lead “with the band” as we composed choir and ensemble pieces that blended traditional church hymns with contemporary songs, and of course those good old Gospel standards from the Gaithers.
As I turn 55 this year, we have come to know worship music as an industry category, no longer just a ‘phase’ that church musicians are going through; but an actual industry unto itself, launching new worship artists at an ever-increasing pace.
I recently re-enrolled in college at William Carey University to complete a bachelor’s degree, which I had put off due to marriage, raising children, and the demands of work life. As I discuss my options with advisers and professors, I find myself more excited and inspired than ever! The expectations and opportunities for worship music which serves the Church, and also reaches the masses of un-churched is virtually limitless. The culture has demanded of us — the Church — that we respond with greater focus on purpose, excellence, clarity, and yes — good theology.
Worship leading for churches has never been more challenging for we musicians. Technology has introduced cool and hip new methods of learning, teaching, training, and performing. Raw talent is a must, of course. But the motive of the heart and the desire to make disciples of Christ with our musical gifts has never been more important for us as leaders, in my humble opinion.
I love what I see occurring in the worship music industry. But, if I am honest, what inspires me personally and as a worship leader is what I see occurring in the local congregations across America. At 55, if feels as if I’m beginning again. And I love it!
As my friend and mentor Lindell Cooley would instruct his congregation and followers: Worship God. Enjoy His Presence. Forever.