Worship School: May 2011
The past several years, my wife and I have opened up our home for periods of time (anywhere from a week to six months) to have worship leaders come and hang out, learn, and do life with us. Weʼve had guys from all over North America, from Africa, and Europe, and weʼve had an absolute blast getting to know them all and spend a season–short or long–in comunity together.
We had a great group of men spend a week with us earlier this month for our most recent Worship School Intensive. 9 guys from all over the country came in to learn together, seek the Lord together, and grow together. I wanted to give everybody a cursory glimpse into what these weeks look like, or at least what this past week looked like.
Each of our Intensives (and Semesters) have their own teachings and emphases, so no two are ever the same. Weʼre always asking the Lord to show us what this particular group needs at this particular time, and Heʼs always so faithful to speak into precisely where weʼre all needing to hear.
I believe lifechange happens more through converstaions than conferences, and worship schools provide a dyanmic environment for 6-12 of us to share with each other, pray for each other, and really get into each otherʼs lives in the most beautiful ways.
We started off this past week with David Rhodes and myself pouring into the guys for the first couple days. Dave is a brilliant teacher, visionary leader, and great friend.
We spent several hours with my pastor, Buddy Hoffman, and his wife Jody as well. I take it for granted how wonderful it is to work for a leader and pastor like Buddy, and letting the guys be around him is always a great reminder to me how thankful I am for Buddyʼs leadership in our church, and in my life.
We also had some fantastic and thought provoking video-conferences with some brilliant men whoʼve poured into my own life.
John Mark McMillan has been a contributor to every worship school weʼve ever done; his gifting as an artist is always inspiring, but moreso his love and knowledge of God and his Word make him standout to me from most. So grateful for John Mark.
Other contributors to this past intensive included Stu G (of Delerious?), John Hartley (my own producer and head of A&R for Kingsway Music in the USA), and Chris McClarney, who wrote Your Love Never Fails. Malcolm duPlessis is always gracious to speak into our schools as well; Malcolm is one of the wisest men Iʼve ever known, and his decades of experience in the worship industry has often been the standout conversation that challenges us all to the core.
Iʼm priveleged to call all of these guys friends and mentors, and theyʼre willingness to speak into these weeks makes our time abuntantly rich. Previous worship schools have included input from Chris Tomlin, Bob Kauflin, Tim Hughes, Nick Herbert, Steve Hickok, Jamie Winship, Kristian Stanfill, and many others.
We always make it a point near the end of the week to spend a day fasting and praying in solitude, and when the weather is as nice as it was this past week, we take a sunrise hike (and climb!) to the top of Stone Mountain.
We take communion together at sunrise, set the guys up for their solitude, and then leave them to be with the Lord. The stories that have come out of the solitude have been the most encouraging of all. God is so faithful to speak, to clarify, to direct… Fasting makes our spirits even more sensitive and receptive to hearing his voice, and itʼs always our highest expectation that He will do what only He can do in revealing precisely what each of these men needs to take away from our time together.
We also had a great vocal workshop with Chuck Sullivan, who teaches vocal excercies, vocal health, and workouts. Other sweet moments included time with Matt Reynolds, our Midtown Pastor, and Jon Stallsmith, our Missions Pastor, who shared a bit of their hearts with the guys as well. We always spend time with Ben Smith & Pat Barrett as well; these are two of my favorite worship leaders in the world, and itʼs so fun to see what Godʼs doing in promoting their band Unhindered to higher and higher places of impact and influence.
Another of my favorite parts of the week is always our songwriters night; we all sit around the living room and play new songs weʼve written, or are in the midst of still writing. I teach a session on songwriting and split the guys up into groups to try cowriting together, and itʼs so fun to hear the fresh stuff coming out of these guys. Some of the other songwriters in our church community come join us as well, and itʼs always a special time together.
I was teaching the guys on how I build my worship sets and plan my church services when I realized itʼd be more impacting (and lots more fun) to just do it all together, so we worked through a few things, practiced a bit, and all led worship together at Grace for our Sunday services. 10 worship leaders, all together!
There are no images or words that can encapsulate what God does in our time together, and we feel so blessed to get to pour into so many incredible worship leaders from around the world. My wife and I (and our four kids) love having guys like these come into our community for a few days or a few months, and we believe God is blessing every turn we take in this endeavor.
We fully anticipate the great glory that God will receive through all of these guysʼ lives, marriages, children, discipleship, and ministries.
Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide for this school, and bring us the men (and women) heʼs set apart to lead people into biblical and beautiful worship of Jesus.