What is the purpose of the church? In the mandate of Christ in the last chapter of Matthew, it is quite clear. The purpose of the church is “to make disciples.” This “disciple making” manifests itself in many facets: through preaching, through teaching, through giving, through fellowship, through evangelism, and greatly through worship.
“Worship-discipling” is patterned time and again in the Old Testament, as the elder priests would cycle off after a certain age to allow the young priests to take over the work. This carries on to the New Testament church, and even today with schools such as Hannibal-LaGrange teaching worship majors, and minors. But there are also more subtle and impactful ways of doing this work.
When I met Tommy Harper, he was a 60-year old worship leader in Tucson, Ariz. He was a masterful pianist and led worship from the piano. His ministry was vibrant and full of love and devotion, not only for the Lord, but for his people. From the grand piano, in the middle of the platform, Sunday after Sunday, Tommy would lead his people in passion, love, and gentle humor. I knew I wanted to be like Tommy.
This began a mentorship across the continent for me for around ten years, until Tommy succumbed to cancer in his seventies. However, I feel that his ministry still lives in me, and I try to pass along his legacy. I will never forget being on the phone with him once, and being young and fed up with some people in my ministry. Tommy admonished my bitter heart with these words, “John, loving-kindness is not an elective in the college of Christianity; it is the core-curriculum.” Day after day, Tommy showed this to me.
Our weekly phone calls would sometimes be about music, chord progressions, etc. Sometimes he would lay the phone down atop his grand piano in his living room and play for me, and I for him. However, our conversations invariably came back to ministry and the Lord.
This is Great Commission worship-discipling. It calls the younger to take heed of what has gone before, but it also requires the elders to care enough for the Kingdom to remain relevant, and extant in the lives of the young.
It is in that vein that I am pleased to announce a new initiative in worship training, the “Old Guy/Young Guy Youth Worship Conference” at Hannibal-LaGrange University. This conference aims at celebrating both generations, and bringing the best of both together. I will be doing this conference with a young worship leader, Andy Rhea, who I watched grow up and become an amazing lead worshipper.
The event is on Nov. 2, beginning at 9am and ending at 4pm.
You can register here: http://www.hlg.edu/forms/old-guy-young-guy-registration/. Lunch is free on campus, and the registration is $30.
Tommy, this one’s for you!