Today’s post was written by Geoff Twigg, a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant in Bedford, New Hampshire. Geoff serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.
This blog entry should have a preface: “The opinions promoted here do not reflect the current policies of the denomination.”
That’s because I’m reporting and commenting, as usual, on the conversations that center on the “Better Together” page… but in particular, I’m going to focus on a discussion that occurred over a couple of weeks in August, started by this question: “Will the Covenant ever create a “department of worship ministries? Does it even need anything like that?” which prompted a strong correspondence over the next week or so.
The original contributor went on later: “A Department of Christian Worship… ideally would oversee the development of worship leaders – both those currently called to churches and those who are looking to a future call. It would strengthen the entire denomination to have worship leaders trained in how to plan and lead worship, recruit and equip volunteers, gain exposure and expertise in diverse worship styles and languages, and to have an understanding of what the Covenant is all about – especially as it related to our worship life.”
There was some discussion about the name – someone suggested “Department of Christian Arts” and most people seemed sympathetic to the fact that worship is currently cared for by the Department of Christian Formation.
It would strengthen the entire denomination to have worship leaders trained in how to plan and lead worship, recruit and equip volunteers, gain exposure and expertise in diverse worship styles and languages, and to have an understanding of what the Covenant is all about – especially as it related to our worship life.
Among several other contributors, the Executive Minister of Christian Formation, Doreen Olson, wrote at length, including these comments: “Worship has found its spiritual home in Christian Formation for the past nine years. Supportive initiatives in the area of worship arts come primarily through the Commission on Worship. Prior to our working with it, the commission was focused exclusively on publishing our Covenant hymnals as well as the Covenant Book of Worship. About 7 years ago, we restructured and re-purposed the commission to a broader mission of support for ECC worship arts practitioners… While the commission itself is in a period of transition, there are some wonderful initiatives that have come from its work during the past few years. North Park’s degree in music and worship was created as a result of the commission’s request. And this lively Facebook-based conversation was created by Matt Nightingale, on behalf of the commission, as a way to connect and build community among you all. “
I agree; the kind of training and resourcing we’re currently offering is good, but we’re failing to meet the need. This denomination has a glorious history of music and art, which should be leading to newly published expressions of faith, new multi-cultural collaborations and worship leaders coming to our churches with greater theological insights and musical skills. Whether we train people centrally in the NPU/Seminary system – or regionally as part of a coordinated national strategy – we must raise our sights and our standards to the glory of God.