Church Music Today continues this month-long theme of sharing events/dates that our contributors have done recently that have made a huge impact at their church. Here is an article from Josh Dickey:
Last month our worship arts team had the rare privilege to get some up close and personal time with one of today’s leading worship teacher’s and authors, Rory Noland. I began making plans for Rory to be here this time last year with a vision of offering our state-wide community an opportunity to join us for a two day retreat focused on the spiritual side of worship leading. Rory is a highly sought after teacher and has written a number of books in a series called “Heart of the artist”, he founded and grew the hugely successful worship arts ministry at Willow Creek Church in Chicago, and speaks at very large conferences all over the US and world, so I was doubtful that he would want to come to our little neck of the woods and do a two day seminar. To my surprise, he was eager and willing to come and share his knowledge and expertise with us after he heard my vision.
That’s where I’ll start…with vision. I’m not necessarily a visionary type of person, but God laid it heavily on my heart to bring Rory to the UP after I had read his books and shared his insights with my own worship team. I felt it was something that every leader and their team needed to hear. Too often worship leading becomes a job rather than a ministry….we get bogged down in details, loose our passion, get disgruntled, and loose focus on the real reasons we even entered this calling….so sometimes a refreshing retreat can give wind to our torn and tattered sails. When I communicated that to Rory, he seemed to relate very well and thought that it would be worth his time to invest in us. I also shared that vision and sent out preliminary information of my intents to about two hundred other evangelical churches in our area. Once the interest was stirred, word of mouth played the biggest role in getting responses and when it was all said and done about forty people from four different churches attended.
One of the reasons I think this retreat came off so well was because I did some detailed and intentional planning ahead of time. First and foremost, I wanted to promote it as a spiritual retreat (not a seminar) so I chose a place centrally located in our area (a very very nice local Bible camp), I held it on a peak fall color weekend, and I offered several options to those I sent invitations to. They could stay overnight, eat, and do the seminars with us or stay at home and just attend the seminars and meal times. I also offered to pay half the cost of my own team’s admission…I wanted them to make an investment, but I also wanted to show them that I would meet them half way if they would make the effort and time to attend. In the initial communications, I tried to emphasize that there would be an abundance of time for worship, solitude, and fun, but I also included a sample itinerary so that people would know that there was some intentional learning time too.
Another aspect I think is important to having a successful retreat is hiring someone experienced, organized, and prepared. Rory already had a very well thought out retreat plan so he took the helm in leading worship times, discussions, and teaching sessions…this took a great deal of burden off of me and I was able to sit back and enjoy the experience rather than be concerned with running the retreat and covering a myriad of details. The Bible camp handled all the food preparation and lodging so all I really had to do was be the MC and do a few little clerical things for Rory.
You know that things went well when everyone leaves feeling refreshed, reignited, and wants more. That’s what happened that weekend…people were challenged, fellowship and fun was had, and the worship leaders and teams that attended left with a greater sense of purpose…mission accomplished! The investment I had to make other than the initial efforts to promote and organize were well worth the couple of thousand I had to spend to make it happen. I even got a bonus because flights to the UP are so sparse that Rory had to come a day early and leave a day late, so he and I spent some time hiking, talking, and bouncing ideas and issues off of one another. As a worship leader for over thirty years and having dealt with just about every situation conceivable, he shared a great deal of knowledge with me and I was able to ask him some questions and get some much needed advice about issues I’ve been having in ministry. I’m going to continue to reap the benefits because I have planned to do some one on one coaching with him mentoring me next year.
I’ve had many training sessions, studies, parties, and retreats with my team, focused on everything from learning rudimentary music principles to doing crazy themed parties just for fun, but I’ve never come away from any single event feeling as jazzed as I did after this one. It inspired me to the extent that before the event was even concluded, I had already started talking and planning a major training event for early 2013. Some of the key people that attended the event were tracking with me and were excited to get the ball rolling too! I can’t begin to emphasize the importance of engaging your team with refreshing events…it really does rekindle the heart’s fires!