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Advice for high school seniors who want to be worship leaders-college, experience,etc

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  • Advice for high school seniors who want to be worship leaders-college, experience,etc

    I am the worship coordinator for the student ministry at my church in Duluth, GA. I have several students that are graduating this year and considering pursuing worship ministry. Many of them are asking what they should do next - i.e. where they should go to school - Christian Colleges that offer worship/music degrees, secular colleges that offer music/performance degrees, specialized schools that equip worship leaders, etc. I wanted to get some feedback from the worship community and see what preparation people have found helpful. I know there are a lot of valid paths that God uses to prepare people for His service. I would love to hear some personal recommendations from people that have actually attended different schools/events. I just want to be able to present the best options to my students that will prepare them for what God has next!

    Here's my background. I attended a state school and got a degree in English with a Minor in Guitar while volunteering at a local church the whole time gaining valuable experience. I then attended seminary and earned a M.Div with a specialization in worship leading. I loved both my college and my seminary experiences - they were very different but prepared me in specific ways to minister in my current context. I'm really thankful that I didn't get a full Music Degree - it would just be overkill for the amount of musical preparation that is needed to lead contemporary worship. I'm not knocking music education - just saying that I'm glad my seminary degree placed a higher emphasis on theological education. Of the two, I feel like theological education is a higher priority for the worship leader. Minoring in Music and taking additional music classes at seminary proved to be the right combination for me. Since seminary, I've grown to appreciate even more the theological and pastoral training that I gained. Those tools have proved truly useful in ministry.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts!

  • #2
    I wish every kid could go on a foreign missions trip to a 3rd world nation for at least a month to get a proper perspective on what God is doing in the earth. That will change everything....and they will learn what it means to have nothing but Jesus.

    Not that school isn't also good but, personally, I am dangerously close to being anti-theology in favor of real-life experiences.

    what? me worry?


    • #3
      As a WL who is still trying to complete my degree at 30, I want to chime in.

      They need to go to college and finish. They'll make more money, healthier churches will hire them, they will have more opportunities bi-vocationally(should the need arise), and they will generally have a lot more credibility.

      So, I say Bible college and a teaching credential. If I were 18 again, that is what I'd do.


      • #4
        I'd highly recommend Liberty University...they have a great and growing worship ministry program that is geared for the modern worship leader.

        The best advice I can give a high schooler/college student is, get as much experience as you possibly can right now. Accept as many offers to play and sing and lead as you can. Find a local worship leader who you can shadow and volunteer a day or two each week working for him/her in a church setting (even if it means doing grunt work). Latch on to a professor or two who can help mentor you and offer some practical guidance. Find friends who are wanting to do the same things and spend lots of time with them talking about and doing it together. Find some blogs of worship leaders, read some books, go to a conference or two, etc.

        Beyond natural ability and spiritual maturity, I truly believe, at that early age, it's the hands on experience that separates the boys from the men.

        Practical Worship

        Please Pray For My Wife


        • #5
          Definitely school of some sort.

          My personal experience is studying music composition and theory (NOT MUSIC ED). And my "seminary" experience is from the school of life.

          I'm not sold that every person has to go to seminary, and I know others would argue otherwise, but I'm doing fine, I have a solid grasp on theology because I dig in deep and I'm surrounded by solid mentors.

          All that to say, each INDIVIDUAL student shoul seek God and the counsel of those who are closest to them, and ultimately should pursue the direction that God opens up in front of them. Common sense says that the more "trained and equipped" they are (be it a music degree or a seminary degree) the better off they'll be at leading others in the same area of ministry.
          Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church .He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.


          • #6
            My only thought is this: By far, the vast majority of church musicians are volunteers. Like any other art form, very, VERY few get to do it for a living.

            So my advice to all high schoolers thinking about a career in "the worship thing" is to think of it as an avocation.
            Tony Hartsfield


            • #7
              I would say if they want to go to college they either need to get a basic degree (something to fall back on) or something that involves music theory/instrument/vocal.

              If they don’t want to go to college but still want to pursue the worship leader position they really need to get plugged in deep somewhere. They need to start networking, learning some sort of instrument, volunteer anywhere they can music wise, do some out of the country mission work… etc.

              Getting a day job that will help them pay bills would also be a good idea. My husband and I both have day jobs while still pursuing or call for the worship ministry. I have an administrative role in a doctor’s office and my husband is an audio/visual tech and designer for an area company.


              • #8
                Krista's comments are dead on, and great advice.

                Love ONE woman...MANY guitars!



                • #9
                  I definitely agree with previous posts. I'd also check into the NewLife School of Worship in Colorado Springs. Its a 10 month program, and I had an opportunity to witness some of that environment first hand, and it really seemed like a cool program. It should definitely follow a degree of somesort from a major college.


                  • #10
                    Christ For The Nations, Dallas - TX