Youth Worship Workshops: my approach

January 26, 2008

I’ve always enjoyed conferences. I come away from them rested (even apart from getting no sleep, oft-times!), encouraged, challenged, and just plain excited, with a fresh of vision of what I can do and how things can be. Wouldn’t it be nice to take your whole team to a conference? Unfortunately, that’s just plain not feasible, given the complexities of people’s schedules, and financial issues. So a few years back I began putting on my own ‘mini-conferences’ for my youth group musicians, and those interested in one day being on the team, which I call ‘Youth Worship Workshops’. They’ve done well for us, not only in giving the youth a new vision for our team and a new passion for worshiping God, but also as essentially ‘try-outs’ to discover and invest in future talent which will slowly be integrated into, and one day replace, the current team. If you’re a worship leader an interested in doing one at your church, here’s the basics of what we do:

I’ve found that Saturday often works best, though I have held ‘mini-workshops’ occasionally on Monday nights at my home, but one needs to be careful to not ‘steal’ too many Saturdays from your volunteers. That’s why I usually only plan 2 – 3 of these a year, evenly and strategically placed as to build up the team before important moments – like right before a new semester starts, when there are often a surge of visitors to our youth group – it’s particularly important to be ‘on’ on such nights.

One important tip – we begin ours at around 11:30 A.M., and provide FOOD. There’s nothing like food to get anyone to go anywhere – at least it works getting me to go someplace. Besides, if your youth are like ours, they’re probably just waking up when the workshop begins, so without food they won’t be there at all.

We usually begin with a prayer, encouraging everyone to grab a slice of pizza, then pop on a short 15-20 minute video clip that I’ve decided will be good for our team at the time. Vineyard has made some excellent worship leader training dvds, as has Paul Baloche, however if you’re looking to instill in your team ‘passion’ – for instance – you could watch John Piper’s “The Blazing Center” or another pastor of your choice. Have some open-ended questions prepared to facilitate a discussion afterwards, which will help ‘bring home’ whatever the dvd’s message was. This’ll give the kids not only some PROFESSIONAL content (these folks can teach better than I), but will give them time to eat, fellowship, and honestly – it’ll wake their brains up so they’ll be ‘present’ for the rest of the workshop. I usually schedule about 30 – 45 minutes for this.

Next, I normally begin the official ‘workshop’. I had reserved a few different venues at our church (another good reason to do these on Saturdays – available space) to make sure we had adequate ‘separation’, and divided our teams by vocals, drums, keys, rhythm guitar, and electric lead guitar. For each group, I hand-picked a volunteer that I knew personally – mostly members of my worship band, Saint Lewis – to run a 45 min to 1 hour long session where they gave the musicians/vocalists tips which will make someone at any talent level more of an asset to a team/band. This looks very different per instrument, so I gave each session leader the freedom to teach what they themselves have found helpful for the role they fill on their own teams. For instance, for the vocalist I taught a primer on classical voice (stomach breathing, head/chest voice, jaw/palette/mouth positions, etc) and practiced some parts. For keys, however, I asked Fred to share what aids a keyboardist when playing with a band: simplifying the left hand, playing higher on the scale, & etc.

After this I did something new, which you may or may not want to include in yours. I have been on a song-writing spurt as of late, and have been hoping to see more ‘original’ music used in our youth ministry, as it’s possible to capture something in an original song that God is doing particular to your fellowship, and there is power there. Also, I have been reading Paul Baloche’s excellent God Songs book, so I took my thoughts on song-writing, and what I’ve gleaned from God Songs, and gave a short lecture on songwriting for all who were interested.

Lastly, even though this didn’t work out during our last Workshop, I like to schedule an official rehearsal for our primary team where-in we can become familiar with the new songs we hope to introduce over the next few months. This way they aren’t entirely new to us when we begin rehearsing them during our Wednesday evening sound-checks.

Anyway, change whatever portion of this format as serves your team best, but this is what I do. We sometimes include a time of sharing and prayer, or even an opportunity to suggest new songs, or voice concerns. Either way each workshop has it’s own uniqueness, yet doesn’t take a lot of time or money to put on.

I hope I’ve given you an idea or two for your own workshops.


One Response to “Youth Worship Workshops: my approach”

  1. You make some excellent points and my prayer that one day you will come here in Kenya and encourage us as you do a worship workshop.

    Wisat Group

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