Often I’ll get emails from pastors wondering where they can find a worship leader. I have no idea, they’re a scarce commodity. I wrote an article a few years ago that said you can almost commit murder and still find a job as a worship leader!
Schools haven’t been much help either with their ridiculous over emphasis on classical music (yeah yeah we need to know the classics blah blah but that’s all they teach with only a nod to the contemporary world. Try making a living on Bach.)
Then last week I had the wonderful opportunity to teach a few worship classes at Liberty University. I was completely blown away and immensely impressed. Love him or hate him, Jerry Falwell has built quite a place in Lynchburg, VA. It’s huge: nearly 12,000 resident students, 60,000 online students and 587 undergraduate worship majors. And the facilities… try snow skiing in August (watch this amazing video.)
Dr. Vernon Whaley, Chairman of the Department of Worship and Music Studies, has helped develop a program to produce something that Evangelical churches desperately need: worship leaders trained in contemporary worship!
When I arrived in Lynchburg (or any new town) my first order of business is to find a restaurant. Doc’s was right down the road from my hotel. It’s a Jerry Falwell-themed diner with memorabilia. Lots of students were running around and I immediately felt the energy of Liberty.
That evening I taught my first class on worship flow to Liberty grad and doctoral students who study online and visit the school every few months for intensives.
The next morning I spoke on blending hymns with contemporary worship to both graduates and undergraduates and was surprised to learn the legendary Don Marsh was sitting in my class! Liberty has lured this fine composer and arranger to the campus to teach music. Wow – that alone would make me want to attend Liberty.
One touching moment I experienced was attending Johannes Schroeder’s senior recital. He’s a German worship leader who was sent to Liberty by his church in Deutschland to study worship. This first half of his recital was classical and in a few weeks he’ll lead a praise band and demonstrate other contemporary worship skills for the second half.
I can’t say enough about the place – Liberty seems to have a great group of young people and teachers. The thing I really like is the strong Biblical, conservative stance (this is Jerry Falwell’s school, after all) yet the contemporary emphasis. I was quite surprised at how contemporary it is. And I discovered one of my favorite Christian artists, Meredith Andrews (who is the nicest, most normal and not stuck-up famous person you’d ever meet) is a graduate.
If you have teenagers interested in worship leading or Christian music as a career I suggest you have them take a look at Liberty. If you’re a worship leader looking to further your studies and degree, take a look at Liberty. And if you’re one of those churches desperately looking for a contemporary worship leader – take a look at Liberty – the next batch of graduates should be ready to enter the workplace in a few months!