By Contributor Pastor Clay Ritter
Note: The following is the first of a series of articles I will be writing about the Calvary Chapel Essential Worship Conference, held March 8-10 at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale.
On March 8, 13 members of the Calvary Chapel Wilmington’s worship ministry drove to Ft. Lauderdale for the Calvary Chapel Essential Worship Conference. The conference was a three-day event for worship leaders to be refreshed, inspired and equipped for the ministry.
Speakers included Pastor Bob Coy (Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale), Pastor Tony Evans (Senior Pastor Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship), and Pastor Pedro Garcia (Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Kendall). Well known worship leaders and Christian musicians performing or speaking included Christy & Nathan Nockels (Watermark, Passion City), Phil Wickham, Anthony Evans, Mia Fields (Hillsong), Bernard Harris, Ascend the Hill, along with many others.
In a teaching session on the first day with Pastor Bob Coy, he spoke of the important role the worship leader plays in cultivating the soil of a congregation’s heart to prepare for the planting of the word of God. I felt that was a perfect metaphor, as I often come into church carrying the problems and issues of the prior week. I find the time I spend in worship is like a fresh rain on the dry and rocky soil of my heart.
In Matthew 13, Jesus spoke a parable about the sower, which illustrates how the condition of our heart can affect how we receive the word of God (Matt 13:3-9).
Pastor Bob also brought out four points I felt were worth sharing.
#1 Character (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
As a worship leader, we should be more concerned with substance, rather than style; with being faithful rather than being famous; with being holy rather than happy. A worship leader with character will be more concerned with bringing glory to God, rather than themselves.
#2 Obedience (Hebrews 13:17)
When God gives a gift to one of his children, like the gift of music, that gift is a tool to be used in obedience to the Lord. We should be focused on using our gifts in line with the call of God in our life.
#3 Skill (1 Chronicles 25)
Skill as a musician or singer is obviously needed, but not everyone has the skill to be on the stage. In 1 Chronicles, we see men who were skilled in music were the ones placed in the ministry of worship. A person may have a heart for worship, but that doesn’t mean they are called to lead the congregation. A good worship leader needs to be able to discern between the two. Being a worship leader also requires skill with people, especially if we have to tell someone we don’t believe they are gifted to be on the stage. We never want to crush someone’s spirit. This is not American Idol!
#4 Sensitivity (Leviticus 10)
A worship leader must be sensitive to the leading of the Lord and the Holy Spirit. In Leviticus 10, Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, brought “strange fire” to the altar. We aren’t sure what this strange fire was, but we know it wasn’t what God called for, and they weren’t being sensitive to God’s word in the way they worshiped.
The next session I attended dealt with “Raising up the next generation of worship leaders.” Stay tuned!