I am the worship coordinator for the student ministry at my church in Duluth, GA. I have several students that are graduating this year and considering pursuing worship ministry. Many of them are asking what they should do next - i.e. where they should go to school - Christian Colleges that offer worship/music degrees, secular colleges that offer music/performance degrees, specialized schools that equip worship leaders, etc. I wanted to get some feedback from the worshiptherock community and see what preparation people have found helpful. I know there are a lot of valid paths that God uses to prepare people for His service. I would love to hear some personal recommendations from people that have actually attended different schools/events. I just want to be able to present the best options to my students that will prepare them for what God has next!
Here's my background. I attended a state school and got a degree in English with a Minor in Guitar while volunteering at a local church the whole time gaining valuable experience. I then attended seminary and earned a M.Div with a specialization in worship leading. I loved both my college and my seminary experiences - they were very different but prepared me in specific ways to minister in my current context.
Looking forward to hearing the replies as well. I've had no formal training other than a year of Bible college many years ago, but have led worship for decades. Still, I find it difficult when looking for a paid position - seems they want to see the letters after the name.
As someone who went to a secular school, and was originally a piano performance major/switched to a journalism major to a music minor here's my advice.
If you go to a secular school, I don't advice in a degree in music performance. Unless you plan on working in a traditional/classical music church, or want to work as a band instructor in a school.
A music minor emphasizing in theory, sight singing, (and maybe some beginning Jazz improv... classes if they're offered) plus taking lessons in your primary instrument (and voice if you need to as well) would musically equip most worship leaders in a contemporary setting just fine from an academic stand point. It is also very helpful volunteering at a church while you are in school as well (or college group, etc...) as actual experience.
The reason why I suggest not to get a music performance degree if you are planning to go into a contemporary music setting is because you will spend more time practicing Mozart, and analyzing Bach and preparing classical recitals than anything else. At my school which was noted for it's music program, after the first year of music theory, the following 3 years were only music analysis classes. (as in looking at Bach, and Mozart all the time). The Jazz improv classes we learned a lot more about actual music theory from a composition view. It was that first year only did I learn about part writing, and instrument arranging anyways.
If I could do it "all" over again, I'd probably go to a Bible or Christian school with a degree in worship, or if I still wanted to go to a secular school, majored in electronic media instead of journalism.
I started off in a music program (not really specifically worship) at a Bible college but I ended up being frustrated studying classical music and loving my Bible classes. In the end I switched majors, dropped all music except private lessons and playing for a worship team and taking theology as my major - I've never regretted it for a minute and would recommend a good dose of theology to anyone interested in leading worship.
I've been leading worship very part time, but feel God's call to take it further. I'm attending Crown College in Minnesota this fall in their Worship Arts program which is geared for people who want to not only get into worship leading in the church, but for those that may have an international interest in music ministry. The program gives you the bible classes, music theory classes, as well as a 1 semester internship in a church under a chosen worship leader / music director, and the technology piece, the different types of worship, and a bunch of other courses. Seems like a good way to go for one wanting to get into that field.