The year was 1997. As a 15 year old, I was asked to lead my peers in worship on Wednesday nights for youth group. I was asked because I had a guitar. Notice, “I had a guitar,” not “I played the guitar.” We had five songs on HEAVY rotation: Shout to the Lord, All in All, Sanctuary, Seek Ye First and Awesome God. To complete the picture, this was one year before the revelation that classroom overhead projectors could be used to display song lyrics. Remember that?
I didn’t really know what worship was. I didn’t know what it meant to be a leader. All I knew was that God gave me an instrument and a role to play and to be faithful was the most important thing. So I tried my hardest, but it was mostly learned on the fly and through trial and error. In short, it was tough.
Fast forward to 2014. Some youth rooms now have complete stage setups with audio and visual overload, in-ear monitors (what are those?), and full teams of youth leading each other in the latest songs. No sheet music? No worries, just look it up…on the internet…on your phone. Things sure are different. Honestly, they are more dangerous and more difficult for our youth.
This year I was asked to play in the evening worship team for a BGCO camp called RESONATE. I have helped in the past and therefore I cleared my calendar so that I could participate again. As I worked, ate, visited, and worshiped with other ministers and gifted lay people, the same sentence kept creeping up, “I wish I’d had this when I was their age.”
So what exactly is RESONATE? It is a camp dedicated to the training, encouragement and discipleship of high school aged musicians serving and desiring to serve in their local congregations. It is not Camp Rock, although at some moments they probably wish it was. The Rolling Stones would be easier to play than some of the things these students were learning.
We would wake up, eat a quick breakfast, go to morning devotional, rehearse, rehearse again, have morning worship, eat lunch, rehearse, rehearse again, eat dinner, rehearse, have evening worship, fellowship, then attempt to sleep. Wash. Rinse. Repeat for four days.
These students were saturated with teaching from God’s Word about what worship is. They learned that the heart of worship is more important than the art of worship (thanks Pastor Blake!). They were trained in their specific disciplines how to play, sing or run sound and lights better. They were stretched musically as they rehearsed in large groups. They were introduced to mentors and teachers with years of experience and a desire to guide. Plus, they were shown some incredible new songs to take back to their churches.
I cannot commend this camp enough to any high schooler in the state who thinks that God may be calling them to worship ministry. Even if they are unsure, but just love music and want to offer their interests to the Lord, they should come. Come and learn what worship is. Learn what it isn’t. Learn what it takes to be a disciplined musician and follower of Jesus. I wish I’d had RESONATE when I was their age.