Discipleship and equipping are always on our hearts and minds as we serve the churches within our state through the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Finding creative ways to partner with churches as they disciple and equip their members for the work of the ministry is an exciting, yet daunting task. But seldom do we hear the words “worship discipleship.”
There is a great need for churches to implement strategies of worship discipleship within their ministries as they invest in and equip the church in biblical worship and worship leadership. So, what is worship discipleship and how can it be integrated into the life and ministry of the local church?
Worship discipleship is a multi-faceted, intentional approach of discipling believers in biblical worship and equipping them to be biblical worshipers and worship leaders. It involves teaching the biblical theology of worship, our responsibility to God as worshipers, both individually and corporately, and then equipping worshipers and worship leaders with biblical understanding and skill to participate and lead in worship.
There are multiple ways to implement a worship discipleship strategy into the life of a local church. In the past, many churches accomplished this through graded music programs, focusing on graded choirs as the centerpiece of instruction. Although the graded approach has continued to be successful in some settings, there are other effective methods as well. It is important for a local church to identify what works best in their personal context.
Identifying the need – the role of the church in worship discipleship:
A local church should always be asking the question, “Who is next?” We should intentionally be investing in those who would be replacing leadership in the years to come. This instruction and equipping begins by partnering with parents in the discipling of their children. Children need to be taught how to love God with every aspect of their life. This type of complete love and devotion includes their talent. (Deuteronomy 6:5,6). As children begin to understand the biblical definition of loving God with all of their heart, soul and strength, the church begins to help children identify their gifts and talents and offer opportunities to use their resources within the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-13).
Meeting the need – continued equipping of the body:
As children continue to grow in their understanding of biblical worship and in their gifts and talents, the church encourages involvement in the areas of their giftedness. It is during this season that children and students begin to see where the Lord is at work in their lives. They begin to identify their interests and talents which will need to be developed. Some may begin to see themselves as communicators, speakers or teachers. Some will be drawn toward music and have a desire to help lead. It is important that a church reinforces the biblical understanding of worship, while equipping for the work of the ministry in the area where they sense God working.
Implementation of a worship discipleship ministry: What can it look like?
The implementation of a discipleship ministry will vary from church to church. However, there are some key components that need to be a part of this type of ministry. First, an ongoing instruction in biblical worship should accompany the discipleship process at every step. The depth of the instruction will grow with the maturity of the student. There should also be opportunity for the students to explore and experience elements of worship leading. For instance, they should have the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument or have instruction in proper singing techniques. They should be introduced to the multimedia used within the church and be taught how these resources are used to lead the corporate gathering.
As understanding and skill grows, the student should be given an increasing opportunity to be a part of leading in a corporate setting. Many churches are seeing the importance of children and students serving alongside seasoned adults in a multi-generational approach of leadership. Two of the strongest tools offered through our convention in the effort of partnering with churches and families in the equipping of children and students in worship discipleship are JoyWorks and PraiseWorks. Both camps focus on equipping children and students in areas of worship, which can be immediately implemented in the lives of their local churches.
The end result – building up of the Body of Christ
The finished product of any form of biblical discipleship is the building up of the body of Christ, the equipping of the saint for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). A well-rounded worship discipleship ministry will equip children, students, and adults with a biblical understanding of worship. It will enhance the skill needed for future worship leaders to lead the local church in worship, and it will disciple each worshiper with a biblical understanding of worship, expressed both in their private and corporate worship.