By Carl Stagner
Want to attend a preaching clinic, church health seminar, or theological dialogue in the Church of God today? You’ll find plenty of options throughout the year. Want to be a part of an experience designed for worship leaders and their praise teams? Those opportunities may be hard to find—until now. The Church of God Ministries U.S. and Canada Strategy team is excited to spread the news of the first-ever Worship Arts Symposium offered by the National Association of the Church of God (NACOG). The event, scheduled to take place August 2–4 at the National Association Campground in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, will offer theoretical and practical insights to strengthen the worship ministry of the local church, give opportunity to practice those insights during the NACOG Camp Meeting that follows, and return worship ministers back to their home churches refreshed and renewed.
Leslie Barnes, minister of praise and worship at Arlington Church of God in Akron, Ohio, for the past thirty years, is coordinating the experience. She’s excited to explain how it all came about. “We submitted a proposal for a grant through the Calvin Institute for Worship Studies,” she recounts. “It came from our heart for wanting to be able to minister to everyone involved in praise and worship arts ministry. The truth is that we’re always on. Musicians, singers, praise and worship ministers—it doesn’t matter what’s happening, we’re always on. So, when do we find the time to pull away and make sure we’re spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy? Worship ministry is more than just excellent skills, but it’s about worship that is shaping me, correcting me, and healing me. We believe that if we can bring our worship ministers together when they’re not being asked to lead, but instead being poured into, they’ll go back home better and recommissioned.”
For $250, participants will enjoy two nights’ lodging, seven meals, and receptions. If lodging isn’t an issue, participants can enjoy a reduced rate. Daily rates are also available—check with the National Association for details. Worship ministers can expect an experience they won’t soon forget, featuring classes, worship services, workshops, and fellowship. Led by a variety of teachers, including Jeff Frymire, the topics to be covered include the practical use of choruses, gospel, and contemporary songs; the use of anthems, spirituals, and hymns; the heart of a worshiper; the use of Scripture in worship; new song showcases; and more. Those who then desire to put new ideas and tools into practice will then be invited (but not mandated!) to serve as worship leaders during the NACOG Camp Meeting that follows (August 5–12).
“It’s an honor for me to serve the National Association as minister of music,” Leslie reflects. “It has ministered to me across the years—what an opportunity for me now to pour back into those who are younger than me and encourage my peers. It’s so important for worship leaders to remember that worship is about so many different things. We have a tendency to think we’re only talking bout singing. But I can sing all day and never worship. I can worship all day and never sing a note. We need to broaden our perspective. It’s my whole life, my being, my everything. I can be called to worship by dance, by spoken word, by other visual arts. God is so creative and he has placed his creativity in us!”
Songwriters are also encouraged to submit their songs for possible inclusion during the Camp Meeting. “We have wonderful writers in the Church of God,” Leslie exclaims. She and others want to hear what God has inspired in the hearts of his people. E-mail a lead sheet (minimum) with lyrics and, if possible, an mp3 of your song to Leslie Barnes in advance of the event: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and to register, call the National Association office at 724-528-1340 or visit https://nacog.com/music_arts_symposium. To learn more about U.S. and Canada Strategy, visit www.jesusisthesubject.org/us-canada-ministries.