A Public Challenge To Christian Colleges And Universities.
It is time we used our influence in shaping the worship vision of millions of Christian students each year by taking some core, provocative action steps. While arts programs and the humanities tend to fall in behind business and engineering program choices for the sake of Christian school budgets, the following thoughts are offered in the spirit of responding to our educational vocation and our cultural calling – rather than to the bottom line.
Using fresh language about worship, and embracing our astounding influence over the thinking and intellectual discipleship of Christian young people every year, we must:
1. IMPLEMENT entirely new majors and programs that not only spiritually, intellectually, and professionally form organists, choir directors, and contemporary worship bands for Gathered Worship, but also develop the next musical versions of bands like Mumford & Sons, U2, Sigur Ros, Bon Iver, The Civil Wars, and others, for cultural connection and permeation.
We have a mandate to develop cultural influencers, not only church musicians and leaders.
As part of this, we will create programs that provide Spiritual Formation and Direction for creative leaders called to serve both the Church in Gathered Worship (what we do when we’re together), and the world in Creational (art that flows from being alive) artistic expression. We will value both kinds of leaders.
Our teaching will combine the energies of the ancient-future Church, addressing the four-fold worship progression of Gathering, Word, Table, and Sending from historic worship practice, how to lead an effective set of musical worship songs, how to direct a choir, and how arrange a band that would be considered sonically current in the 21st century by anyone’s standards.
Gathered Worship leaders will be seen as significant in our development as cultural music artists.
2. EDUCATE our students, board members, and donors why we are making aggressive, immediate shifts in our curriculum for the sake of the world. Moving from Sacred/Secular language to Sacred/Creational language, we will take the risk to re-shape our approaches to educating young Christians to send them out after 4 years with a Life Worship (Rom. 12:1-2) mandate that will exponentially expand their sense of call to their co-mission with Christ.
3. INNOVATE by jumping headlong into the 21st century, keeping aware of current cultural trends and technologies, rather than digging our heels back into the past or cloistering in Christian safe houses.
Rather than often lagging 20-30 years behind in our technology (or church/culture perspectives), we will invest in upgrades as quickly as we do new buildings. This will attract gifted young people of faith into specialized arts programs where they will be discipled in Christ-likeness even as they are prepared to write scripts for the film industry, become advocates through photo-journalism, or create the next architectural design vision that rivals anything created by Frank Gehry or Michelangelo.
Our purpose for going online with our current and new programming will be driven by our desire to infuse a Life Worship mission into a new generation, rather than our desire to generate income to sustain our bottom line.
.4. VALUE the power of a vital, vibrant worship community among our students, teaching that mission is the natural overflow of the Gathered Worship encounter. Cultivate your Gathered Worship environments, invest in student spiritual formation, and prepare them for occupations in which their Life Worship can be expressed passionately and dangerously.
Dan Wilt, M.Min.
Worship Studies Educator & Advocate
More on this topic will be explored in my upcoming book, Worship White Noise: Tuning In The 7 Worship Culture Shapers In The Chaos Of The Modern Worship Experience. Watch here for the release date and link. All currently released books can be found on Amazon here.