Missouri Worship Leaders "Get Together"
When I was 21, my friends asked me to join them in singing the 1967 Youngbloods hit “Get Together” at our church. I was a new Christian with no knowledge of church music other than “Amazing Grace.” My dad was a rock-and-roll drummer, and I had studied classical and jazz piano but was very new to this worship thing. All I knew was that “Get Together” was a cool song with feel-good lyrics, and it was fun to sing! Little did I know that this unusual request would be my entry into the contemporary/modern worship arena.
Since that time, I have been involved in worship teams in seven different denominations in just as many cities in the midwest. What I have learned is that all worship is Holy ... whether the song is set in a pop, rock, jazz, folk or classical style. When I joined Manchester UMC as the Director of Modern Worship Arts six years ago, I brought this diverse experience with me and quickly began noticing that my congregation was not at all like the “one-style-fits-all” churches which I had been a part of over the years. Manchester has a long-standing history of excellent, traditional music programs, and a much newer history with modern worship.
In the modern worship realm, there are a number of great resources that will help one hone their skills as a musician and leader, find catchy new songs, create elaborate stage designs and even provide input on what to wear! But what I found missing is how to create an engaging modern worship experience in a traditional Methodist church. If you didn’t know it, the UMC is one of the last cars on the modern worship train.
Because obstacles are an opportunity for creativity, I began connecting with UMC colleagues through a number of online sites. After many conversations it was apparent that Methodist worship leaders are looking to other denominations for our material and guidance even though there is a tremendous amount of talent to be found within our own denomination.
Thankfully, Discipleship Ministries launched their Methodist song-vetting project “CCLI Top 100” in 2015 with an updated “CCLI Top 100 + Beyond” project that released this past March. There are also connectional groups forming within our denomination that are addressing this growing need such as The Institute for Modern Worship in the Florida Conference, and the North Georgia Modern Worship Leaders Network.
Now modern worship leaders in the Missouri Conference can “get together” through a new Facebook group as well. It serves as a place where we can connect, collaborate and serve one another. We hope to create strong connectional ties allowing us to become the best leaders we can be. There are future plans to offer worship conferences and retreats, songwriting events, and to also connect with other groups across conference lines and globally.
Leaders of contemporary/modern worship services in the Missouri Conference are invited to join the group at www.facebook.com/groups/missouriumcmodernworshipleaders.
Kiersten Rose serves as the Director of Modern Worship Arts at Manchester UMC in St. Louis and is also the moderator of the Missouri UMC Modern Worship Leaders Facebook group.