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Staying Fit for Leading Worship: NPWI returns to Worship Arts Faculty, joined by Nikki Lerner & more

2016 Highlights

Regardless of the size of your church, the worship arts come with challenges. Some are specific to small churches, others to large, and still others are universal.

An obvious, if underrated way to meet most challenges head-on is continuing education. “Church leaders need to continue to grow in their craft in every season of life, if we don’t learn new skills, we will cease to be effective,” says Nikki Lerner, worship director at Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, MD, and a member of the core team of the Multicultural Worship Leaders Network.

Seasoned leaders and industry professionals will make up the Worship Arts Education Track faculty at the 2016 Worship Facilities Conference & Expo (WFX). Curriculum will explore philosophies behind worship, performance and support.

Returning to WFX is Randall Bayne, former executive director of the National Praise and Worship Institute and now co-editor at TNTX Publishing and Skyway Studios in Nashville. Bayne will oversee a group of new and veteran clinicians leading a variety of workshops for worship leaders and teams. An area of focus, however, will be the needs of the smaller church. “We’ll cover discipleship and budgeting, but also how a smaller church can do its own recordings, be its own label and do its own publishing. You don’t have to be a mega-church to accomplish these things,” Bayne says. 

“For instance, today’s Christian music is mostly rock, but not everybody can connect with that style. We’re sharing how to identify and use different tools to reach different kinds of people,” shares Lerner.

Bayne and team also want to reach out to the worship pastors of smaller churches who are writing great music, but don’t necessarily have outlets or a network for taking the next step. As such, a music publishing company and label will join the team and offer opportunities for critique and publication, according to Bayne.

A spotlight will also shine on bridging cultural gaps in the church through worship. “What works in different situations? Are there commonalities that work across every ethnicity? We’re going to discuss those,” Bayne shares. 

The topic of worship’s role in unifying different cultures and races will also be covered in depth by Lerner and three of her colleagues from the Multicultural Worship Leaders Network. The team will lead several sessions throughout the conference that fall into two distinct categories: How to leverage the creative art of worship to reach across racial lines, and how to take the bigness of a conference and utilize it no matter the size of your church.

In the first category, sessions will teach how to lead in multicultural, diverse situations. “We want to equip people to handle different cultural dynamics,” says Lerner. “How do you design services and your art to reach different types of people from different ethnic cultures?”

Lerner and her teammates will discuss using different genres of music within one set, how to incorporate different languages into worship, and how to build a diverse team.

“For instance, today’s Christian music is mostly rock, but not everybody can connect with that style. We’re sharing how to identify and use different tools to reach different kinds of people,” shares Lerner.

Lerner tours with her band throughout the year performing in venues of all types and sizes. She says that in the second category—how to employ what’s learned in smaller churches—she and her team hope to encourage attendees not to dismiss what they’re seeing and hearing at the conference because it’s large-scale. “People who come from a church of 75-100 people with an organ and a guitar, they want to know how they can take what they’ve learned and fit it to where they are. They think they can’t, but they should be able to take whatever they see and make it work in their community,” she says.

The object of these sessions, according to Lerner, is to take the bigness of WFX’s worship experiences and show how to scale it for any size church.

“We’ll show how to pare that song down to be appropriate for the number of singers and the instruments you have,” Lerner says.  

Representing the industry side is Jayme Thompson, co-owner of The Worship Initiative, a web-based, interactive support tool for church worship teams, which she helped to launch with contemporary Christian artists, Shane & Shane. Thompson will lead two sessions demonstrating the website and its uses for churches of all sizes. One session will be geared toward worship leaders and the other toward tech teams.

The Worship Initiative provides subscribed users with instrumental and vocal training, and videos that teach different parts to different members of the team. For $1, users can also download chord charts for songs in the appropriate key. Individual subscriptions are about $10 per month.

“We’ll show how groups can use it, how to use the set list builder, and how leaders can provide learning tools to their teams throughout the week,” says Thompson.

The Worship Initiative also provides Bible studies and verses relative to songs’ content. “We’re not just teaching the technical way to perform music, but putting things into the hearts and mouths of worship leaders so they can share in a way that’s biblical and meaningful,” says Thompson.

Thompson and her team will also have a presence on the expo floor where teams and individuals can look into the product.

“We’re a fairly new resource,” she says, “and a lot of people have not been introduced to our site. This is an opportunity to check it out and see if it’s a good fit.”

 

WFX will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. Pre-conference workshops are scheduled for Sept. 20 and the main conference for Sept. 21-22. For more information or to register, visit wfxweb.com.