Crescent City Praise NOBTS  What a refreshing joy it was to spend last week on the campus of one of our Southern Baptist Seminaries, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS).  I believe for me personally, as a worshiper, a minister of the Gospel, a follower of Christ, a student of the Word, a pilgrim on the journey of life, and as a musician it was a reminder of the importance of continued learning.  I confess that I am not real hep on the thought of taking notes on endless lists of names and numbers.  Been there….done that….much of it left me bored.  Just sayin’

On the other hand, I consider myself a lifelong learner and I really aspire to maintain that posture right on through my senior years on the planet.  I love to learn and grow.  Many newer forms of conveying information stimulate me to know more and foster a deeper hunger to be able to assimilate different ways of thinking.  Dr. Andrew Hill in my first seminar at the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies made a statement that enriched my attitude toward the time it takes to ingest information and prayerfully assess how any particular information will be applied in life and ministry.  At the time I was wrestling with the volume of hours and expended effort it was taking me to read and synthesize so much material.  Dr. Hill’s statement in class one day was simply a reminder, “We worship God with our mind.”  His quote went immediately into my classnotes for the day, but more formatively, it lodged in the deep recesses of mind and spirit.  The statement was certainly not one of exclusivity, as if we worship God only with our mind, but rather was a reminder that “offering our bodies as living sacrifices” includes our minds.  His statement set me free!  One of those “Aha!” moments when I sensed the Lord’s Spirit was saying, “Clark, this is for you!”  The revelation applied in two directions:  First of all, I need to apply my best thinking to things of God, as the Apostle Paul says, “think on these things.”  Secondly, reading, studying, and deep contemplation of theological truth are appropriate means of worship, and as such merit the time and attention required.


Last week’s trip to New Orleans to conduct the seminary sponsored Annual Crescent City Praise Choir & Orchestra provided memorable opportunities for music-making through the week in multiple rehearsals and then in the Thursday evening concert of praise.  Anyone that knows me at all knows how much I love to dive into quality music and explore the nuggets of lyrical and musical nuance.  I find that pursuit and the preparation for it richly worshipful.  In addition to the music-making endeavors last week, being on campus provided opportunities to visit with students, professors, and fellow worship ministry leaders.  It was all rich with food for the mind and soul.  On the very first day I found out that it was Revival week on the campus, meaning daily services and nightly prayer meetings focused on renewal.  What’s more I discovered that the Worship Music Leader for the week was a friend.  What a week!  Worship services focused on openness to the Holy Spirit renewing lives and churches, certainly penetrated my own spiritual conscience as well.  I was invited to address multiple classes about corporate worship, and followed those periods by engaging in countless conversations with students regarding those themes.  Since I had no car and was housed on campus, my transportation was with faculty and administration, which provided yet more opportunity for rich conversation and fellowship.  My mind was in a state of constant stimulation.  It reminded me of the importance of seminary education.  It also encouraged me to continue pursuit of gathering Worship Leadership in Roundtable and conferencing settings where practical meets theoretical.  I believe such gatherings will never substitute for formal theological ministry education, but rather serve as reminder to those who had the seminary experience, and open deeper conversations for those who have not.  We live in a day when many are looking for shortcuts.  I am not necessarily opposed to online programs of study, and in fact am looking now at prospective programs to aid Tennessee Worship Leaders who have not been able to do seminary.  At the same time, I confess that there is really no substitute for the hard work of entering a formal accredited program of study in order to prepare mind, heart, and spirit for pastoral ministry in worship leadership.

Giving heart and mind in Christian worship is much more than a momentary engagement.  The path of worship leads to a life of learning, growing, surrendering, regularly humbling ourselves to His Lordship.  Those who call themselves Worship Leaders must surely follow in this way of learning as a lifestyle.

Special thanks to Dr. Greg Woodward, Dr. Ed Steele, Dr. Michael Sharpe, Dr. Darryl Ferrington, and of course Dr. Chuck Kelly for your warm hospitality.  Thank you even more for the stimulating conversations, the shared times of prayer support, the deep reflections regarding life, ministry, and worship.  I am privileged to partner with you to encourage those who lead others in Christian worship!

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

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