When I first started leading worship, I was 17. I had grown up playing violin (like all good Asians) and after having a radical conversion experience, I became interested in guitar playing and singing. Back then, Koreans were fanatical about retreats and conferences and the worship leaders and worship team members were heroes to me - I wanted to be just like them. So I picked up an Ovation Celebrity (a singularly terrible instrument, perfectly designed for human suffering) and I started to learn the songs that everybody sang: Vineyard songs. I was on my way. I was all about it. All about the music. All about God.
And the girls. If you were on stage, you were the object of everyone’s affection, especially for the girls. That sounded like really good news to me.
So when I got into worship, it was all mixed up with good stuff and bad stuff, too. And without much guidance along the way, I made all sorts of mistakes.
Here are some of my biggest ones:
1) I never practiced or grew in my primary instrument: MY VOICE. I didn’t start working on my vocals until I was about 20 years into leading. That was a mistake - my vocal quality suffered, I wasn’t super healthy (see Sarah Elmer’s excellent blog HERE on that) and I could NEVER, EVER do more than a couple of services at a time. I got hoarse quickly.
2) I rarely did the hard work of calibrating my motivations unless I was forced into it. And by forced into it, I mean that occasionally my putrid attitudes got called out, or I was humiliated by rejection. Painful, embarrassing, and actually avoidable.
3) I let public success gloss over private failures. When I started, I was a mess privately. But I allowed the public success of worship leading and the fruit that came from it to excuse the bad choices I was making. It wasn't until I got into the Vineyard and I started attending a men’s group and my private life came roaring into the public sphere, that things got better.
How do you avoid these mistakes? How do you set your trajectory right from the beginning, without the left turns I took?
It’s not easy. But it can start with RISE.
What is RISE? RISE is a 2-day worship intensive designed to equip, train, encourage and mentor young worship leaders and musicians. Instructors will demonstrate and encourage authenticity, musical accessibility, musical growth and excellence in worship, while infusing Vineyard values, theology and DNA into the heart of all that is taught throughout the event. The event schedule will include a mix of MAIN SESSIONS, BREAKOUT TRAINING WORKSHOPS, WORSHIP, MINISTRY and more!
Here is a just sampling of what will be offered at RISE: 1) Acoustic Guitar in Worship 2) Electric Guitar in Worship 3) Rhythm Section Workshop 4) Keyboard/Piano in Worship 5) Vocal Training Workshop 6) Keyboard Synth & Pads 7) Songwriting Basics
And all along - there will be a steady diet of heart and character. It’s exactly what I needed when I was 17. Please come join us in beautiful Syracuse.