The term "Music City USA" usually brings to mind a sound characterized by a country twang. Nashville and the surrounding Middle Tennessee region has long been known for its proximity to great music. From concert halls to honky tonks to recording studios, every music genre known to man is well-represented. This is also true for the church.
Some of the greatest artists of all time credit the church as the place where they first fell in love with music. Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, and so many more learned how to sing in church.
Church music looks a little different today than it may have looked when those artists were learning to sing. In fact, today's church music has become a nearly full-scale production. Lights, sound, a full band, and a group of incredible singers has become the norm in many congregations.
The position of Worship Leader, formerly known as Minister of Music, has become one of the most integral staff hires a Lead Pastor can make. Because the role of Worship Leader is one of the more visible and influential positions in the church today, the man or woman who fills this role must always be prepared. Excellence in music has become a non-negotiable in much of the church world.
Whether it's searching for new songs to lead, arranging music in a creative way, or leading a huge team of singers and musicians, being a worship leader can be quite demanding. For smaller churches, the task becomes even more daunting as many lack the additional musicians and singers that larger churches seem to have in abundance.
With some of the best musical entertainment in the world within an hour's drive of anywhere in the region, local worship leaders have to hold to an even higher standard of musical excellence.
One organization helping churches and worship leaders live up to that standard is We Are Worship. Based in Franklin, We Are Worship is part of Integrity Music, a recording and publishing label that has played an integral role in popularizing much of what we consider modern worship music.
Wisdom Moon, Director of We Are Worship, says the organization exists as "a resource for worship leaders globally."
Free to join, the site is an online repository of resources for thousands of songs. From chord charts to lyrics and song files, the site has a seemingly endless set of resources to help worship leaders from all sorts and sizes of churches. There's even a place where unsigned songwriters can share their music with users of the site.
A former worship leader himself, Moon believes his work at We Are Worship is a calling. "I really felt this passion to serve local worship leaders by building a community."
We Are Worship has recently taken the community piece even further by offering free worship gatherings where they bring in worship bands from around the region to perform for a group of local worship leaders, giving those who lead on a weekly basis a chance to be ministered to. Moon continues, "I think a community is a huge thing that worship leaders need and want." He continues, "This is our own city if we can't have a community here, how can we be effective elsewhere?"
The gatherings are held in Franklin and they are open to all worship leaders in the area. We Are Worship periodically hosts appreciation lunches for local worship leaders as well.
The community Moon is working to build extends to social media as well with We Are Worship having a huge presence on Facebook.
Moon also says courage is something worship leaders need today.
"It's hard for us as worship leaders to find community because we aren't willing to take a step to reach out to somebody. It takes courage."
To find out more about the next We Are Worship event, check out their Facebook page.