While I don’t have nearly everything figured out at 44 years of age, I have arrived at one place of deep conviction: the work that we do as worship pastors/leaders is discipleship. Not music. Not art. Discipleship.
Over the course of the past 27 years that I have been involved in worship ministry, I have attended a large number of worship conferences. Regardless of the theme or host organization, there are a lot of similarities and redundancies found in these gatherings. Trends come and go — but at almost every worship ministry conference, one is almost certain to be able to attend a variety of topical breakout sessions. Common offerings include songwriting, planning, how to lead a rehearsal, emerging technology, creative arts, involving a choir in worship, effective live audio mixing, and much more. With each passing year, the opportunities to grow and learn multiply and diversify.
Meanwhile, we are facing a mounting challenge in the North American Church — we are shrinking. Despite our increasing efforts to express ourselves more emphatically and uniquely, in most domestic locations, we are ministering to a decreasing number of people every week. Maybe a new kind of conference — or different course of action is needed.
Because we “worship people” are creatives, I fear that we often default to chasing that which feeds our natural-born addiction to imaginative exploration — instead of the deeper, more important work to which we are called. Gifting and calling, although related, are not the same thing. Whereas our predominant gifting may be artistic, our calling is to reach people, lead them to Jesus, and champion them in a deepening relationship with the Almighty God.
Perhaps what we need at this juncture is enrichment, training, and daily practice that prioritize discipleship. As I pray and think on these matters, I am realizing the growing need for a resurgence of worship leaders who are devoted to personal spiritual disciplines and the spiritual maturation of others above all else.
Craig Adams is Director of Creative Development and Publishing for LifeWay Worship. He is a devoted husband, father of two, and member of Brentwood Baptist Church. His life-long hobbies include tennis, landscaping, any excuse for a laugh and a cup of coffee, and all things Disney. Craig can be found on Twitter @craigadams_lww and on facebook.com/craig.adams.927.