That’s the word I find myself consistently returning to as I reflect on the last nine months, which I spent going through the Worship Leader Development program at Austin Stone Community Church.
Absolutely, unequivocally transformative.
I’m an advocate for context, so let me begin by telling you a bit about myself.
My name is Luke Brawner. I’m a worship leader in northwest Houston, in a mid-sized, predominantly white, upper-middle class, suburban, denominational church. I’ve been here just under four years.
Prior to starting this job, I had very little experience leading worship. I’d been a singer/songwriter for a decade or so and had toured a bit, both as a solo artist and as the frontman for a less-than-successful folk-rock band you’ve likely never heard of. But I had minimal experience leading congregational worship. In fact, I grew up in the Church of Christ, a church that at the time worshipped entirely a cappella.
So I’d never really even been around any “worship leaders.” The whole “worship music” culture was (and in many ways still is) completely foreign to me. I spent the last four or five years consciously stumbling through, trying to figure out what’s what, and learning most everything I know the hard way.
Worship Leader Development
Then last summer, Aaron Ivey caught my attention when he began tweeting about the Worship Leader Development program at Stone. I was intrigued. It sounded, based solely on the name, like precisely what I was in need of. Development. I don’t think I was necessarily a BAD worship leader. I mean, I tried hard, I meant well and I trust that God worked despite my inadequacies. But there were certainly a few gaping holes in my ministry.
I decided (kind of on a whim) to apply for the program, assuming they’d never accept a guy who lived nearly three hours away.
Thankfully, I assumed wrong.
It would be impossible for me to capture everything I’ve gained over these past nine months in a single blog post. So, I won’t attempt to. I will simply share with you a couple of the more significant ways in which my life and ministry have been transformed under the leadership of the worship staff at Austin Stone.
My transformation began early in this course when Todd Agnew taught a class on the importance of spiritual disciplines in the life of a worship leader. I distinctly remember feeling as though a tremendous weight had been lifted off my shoulders hearing these words from Todd: