Recently Baylor hosted the annual Alleluia Church Music Conference which draws several hundred music and worship leaders to the campus each summer for training, inspiration, and enrichment. This summer, in an effort to nurture the next generation of worship leaders, we started a new event – Baylor Worship Lab – in which a dynamic group of high school worship leaders came to our campus to spend three days with David Crowder, Leslie Jordan, Shaun Groves, Robbie Seay, and a talented team of Baylor students. I was asked to speak to the students about worship leaders of the future and I believe the projections I mentioned might be helpful for all of us – young and old. Music leaders of the future will be people who . . .
…value worship diversity – musically, artistically, and culturally. The days of dividing into separate worship services based on style and preference are limited. The church will be seeking out leadership who embrace musical diversity – they love many styles and genres of music and eagerly accept them as good and beautiful. Similarly, they are at home with many artistic expressions, and they will find ways to incorporate them into worship. In the same way, they are open to all cultures, and they will find ways to draw from both world cultures and the varied cultures of their own local context.
…have solid musical skills in many genres. Rather than specific training within single genres, they will be more broadly trained and interested. They will not carry the baggage of misplaced musical value judgments. They will be able to move from one musical genre to another with greater ease because they will value using their voices and other instruments both in conventional and not-so-conventional ways.
…value the team more than their individual communications. They will discover ways to move beyond the traditional ways of proclaiming the word of God in worship. Rather than one person being the spokesperson for the proclamation of Scripture, they will ask questions such as “How should this story best be told?” “Who is the most authentic person to proclaim this word?” “What medium best matches?” “How might this story be most poignantly received?”
…trust others and are collaborative in their approach. They will be more uncomfortable being lone rangers in their leadership. Being a part of a team will be a non-negotiable value for them. They will check their perceptions with others and move forward only when the team reaches consensus. They will be mature enough to recognize that they have blind spots, and the only remedy for blind spots is trusting others.
…are willing to serve the church without being full-time. They will be less concerned with making a living than they are with serving Christ. They will be comfortable doing a number of smaller jobs which will add up to the amount of work that they need to do to sustain the lifestyle that they have decided upon. They will choose to live in smaller homes, drive less expensive cars, and have fewer non-essential items in order to have more time for relationships, leisure, and taking better care of each other and themselves. Not only will there likely be fewer full-time ministers, there will be fewer overworked people in other highly-skilled vocations. We are already seeing the pattern of younger people working enough hours to maintain the standard of living that they value rather than working extra to get ahead of others.
…are entrepreneurial and inventive in their approaches. Future worship leaders will be adept at solving problems and finding innovative solutions to life’s complexities. They will respond to their local context and find ways to do church that works within the values of the group. They will be willing to take on the risk needed to find a new way. Likewise, they will find ways to do church without the immense financial capital that has come to define many churches of today. They will have less dependence on traditional buildings, materials, instruments, and other trappings.
…are multilingual and multimusical. They will learn to speak both the linguistic and musical languages of the people that they are called to serve in their local and global context. They will be less concerned with preserving their own heritage and belief system than embracing that of the people around them. This will mean learning to walk comfortably within the musical idioms of diverse musical styles and genres. However, they will understand that traveling within diverse musical styles does not necessarily mean that we have to be adept at all of them ourselves – we will be a part of a team in which others can compensate for our weaknesses.