The first North American Salvation Army Worship Leaders Conference (SAWLC) was held on January 24-27, 2019 in Atlanta, GA, bringing together seventy-five worship leaders from around the United States and Canada, displaying a vast array of diversity. The SAWLC was planned and led by the five North American Territorial Contemporary Music Specialists: Doug Berry (East), Simon Gough (Canada and Bermuda), Josh Powell (South), Jude St. Aime (West), and Josh Turner (Central). Their planning helped give a wider representation and vision of worship leaders in our Army.
In addition to corporate worship times and teaching, the conference was filled with practical workshops and “creative corner” times giving delegates the opportunity to gain extra training in planning, songwriting, arranging, mentoring, working with worship committees, spiritual formation and leading praise teams.
Sprinkled throughout the conference were various technique and resource highlights. Technique talks covered topics 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. Each resource, along with the schedule, workshops, and a link to the recently created SA Worship Leaders Magazine are highlighted on the conference website
Overall, there was a great sense of humility at the conference from people of multiple lifestyles, ethnicity and culture as they embraced one another with love, encouragement, and a focus to worship God.
The biggest highlight for me was the intentionality of pouring into corps worship leaders, letting them know that they matter and that they are on the frontlines of spiritual warfare for our Church. 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! Whether we are vocalists, guitarists, drummers, or whether we play or sing within our traditional music groups, the musicians are to be leading our Army, and the Church, into spiritual battle. It is my prayer that King Jehoshaphat’s example can be applied to each of our corps. As an Army we need to practice spiritual disciplines, like fasting, asking God for guidance and commissioning lay worship leaders to lead congregations in spiritual battle. As we gather each week, worship leaders have a high calling to re-orientate our congregation’s mind, soul and body off of ourselves and onto Christ, to whom we bring glory, as we worship the reality, greatness and goodness of God.
Territorial Contemporary Music Specialist USA Central Territory