by Josh Turner
The first North American Salvation Army Worship Leaders Conference (SAWLC) was held in Atlanta, Ga., bringing together 75 worship leaders from around the United States and Canada. The conference was planned and led by the five North American territorial contemporary music specialists including Doug Berry (East), Simon Gough (Canada and Bermuda), Josh Powell (South), Jude St. Aime (West) and myself (Central) which gave a wider representation and vision of worship leaders in our Army.
During the five united sessions, a contemporary specialist and Randy Bonifield led delegates in worship. From gospel to pop/rock, each session saw an inclusivity of musical styles and featured a lineup of excellent guests, including Captain Nesan Kistan, Courtney Rose, Randy Bonifield, Captain Marion Platt and Lt. Colonel Allan Hofer, who spoke with authority on the importance of worship, worship leaders and their spiritual health.
In addition to meaningful corporate worship and teaching, the conference was filled with practical workshops and “creative corner” times giving delegates opportunities to gain extra training in understanding spiritual formation, planning, songwriting, arranging, mentoring, working with worship committees and leading praise teams.
Sprinkled throughout the conference were various technique and resource highlights. Memorable technique talks, from keeping sound simple to using apps in worship, gave practical and immediate application of ideas. Resource highlights gave recommendations for training, planning and spiritual development of worship leaders and their teams.
There was a great sense of humility as delegates of different ethnicities, cultures and lifestyles embraced one another with love, encouragement and a focus on worshipping God. The highlight for me was the intentionality of pouring encouragement into corps worship leaders, letting them know they matter and are on the frontlines of spiritual warfare.
2 Chronicles 20 records when King Jehoshaphat heard about an impending attack, he immediately fasted, prayed and sought God’s guidance. Then he appointed worship leaders to go out ahead of the army to sing praise and thanksgiving to God. As soon as they started praising God, He gave them the victory.
I pray that King Jehoshaphat’s example will be applied in each of our corps. We need to practice spiritual disciplines like fasting, asking God for guidance, and commissioned lay worship leaders to lead congregations into spiritual battle. As we gather each week, worship leaders have a high calling to reorient our congregation’s focus on Christ to whom we bring glory as we worship our great God.
Resources and a link to the recently created SA worship leaders magazine are highlighted on the conference website SAWorshipLeaders.com