This last weekend, I got to take a van load of some of the best of the next generation to the Student Leadership Summit at Nebraska Christian College. It was great. I graduated from there 20 years ago (whoah!), and had a great college experience, so I always have high expectations when I have the chance to be on campus. Since my daughter will be enrolled there next year (whoah again!), there’s a new layer of processing that’s happening as I think about the college and what they’re doing for the Kingdom and the next generation of college students.
As one of many alumni and a supporter of the college, as a visiting youth pastor and a soon to be father of a freshman, I found myself observing, critiquing, and participating in the event from all kinds of angles.
We got all checked in, and after a fun opener that involved a drum line of trash cans, lids, buckets, stools, and about anything else that the drummers could bang on, the student band took the stage. During the first song, which was fast, loud, and a celebration of coming together in the presence of God, I had two thoughts in quick succession:
- This band of college kids is really, really good. The technical proficiency and production were great. The school is doing a great job teaching these aspects in the worship arts department that my daughter is heading into. That’s exciting because she’s got a gift that needs next level development – and I don’t doubt that’s going to happen.
- But, I hope they’re still doing as well at developing a spirituality deep enough to sustain young worship leaders in their discipleship walk as they confront the realities of being worship pastors and leaders off the stage day after day in local church settings. Performers are easy to come by… we need leaders of worship.
It’s one thing to be a good musician/performer who can capture and hold a crowd’s attention and garner their participation for a weekend. It’s a gift… and it can be a good gift when it’s used well. But it’s another thing to walk with Christ through a life of leading other people to live lives of sustained worship. And it requires a lot more, I think. Mostly, it requires a depth of relationship with God that strengthens us enough for the task.
Immediately after the first song, the band led a song that was all about NOT performing. I know they didn’t have me in mind when the set list was made… but this was the first part of an answer to my question. “We’ve learned to be good musicians, but we’re after a heart connection with our Maker, not applause.” A second piece to answer the question came at the end of the weekend:
Groups were loading up and heading home. Since Emily needed to do a quick interview to get set up for starting classes next year, we were moving a little slow, visiting with another former student who will graduate later this year. (You WILL finish, Shane, you WILL finish!) My wife, LuAnn made a quick visit to the restroom before we hit the road and found all the affirmation of where the heart of NCC still is. That sounds really weird so let me explain. She found Nina… who had done an awesome job leading from the stage all weekend… cleaning the restroom. After a weekend of a couple hundred kids in the building and all that that entails, the worship leader was cleaning the restroom.
And she was still engaged in worship.
No lights. No cameras. No applause.
Just something that needed done and a heart willing to take action to do it.