AOK workshop zeroes in on better ways to worship

By: Brad Rowland

In late October, delegates from the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division gathered at Camp Heart O’ Hills for an engaging weekend of instruction and worship. The fourth edition of the division’s Contemporary Worship Workshop featured an intriguing scheduling of events focused on improving the quality of worship across the division and strengthening the hearts of the budding artists involved.

Corps from the division, and elsewhere, were invited to send their full worship teams to the weekend and the groups were given specific tutelage from high-level instructors. Though a breakout session for individual musical instruction on an instrument was included, the overarching focus was further preparing groups for work in the corps.

“We really want as much corps participation as possible,” said Jimmy Cox, assistant divisional music director. “It’s a unique thing, I think, in The Salvation Army for a corps to be able to send their entire worship team to an event and have a qualified instructor work with their entire group. There are other ways to improve, but this is unique in that it represents direct corps ministry to help the quality of worship in the corps.”

Breakout sessions included work on keyboard, guitar, drums, bass guitar, vocal, leadership and sound engineering. On Saturday, delegates broke into their corps teams, allowing for detailed instruction that was also practical for corps in differing situations.

“I think it’s the best thing I’ve seen in the territory when it comes to training corps musicians in a practical way,” said Josh Powell, territorial contemporary music specialist. “I love the program, and I don’t see how a corps praise team could attend and not improve, both missionally and musically.”

In addition, the entire delegation assembled for worship sessions, with praise and worship led by the divisional worship team and inspired Bible study keyed by Andrew Barrington, divisional music director. Saturday evening’s program featured a theme called a “Hymn Sing,” with approximately 15 well-known worship songs available and delegates challenged to select songs that inspired them, followed by a time of testimony and worship focusing on the meaning of the words involved.

From more established praise teams on the corps and divisional level to those simply beginning the journey in the praise and worship space, the workshop provided the opportunity for growth. Still, the focus is the same in that everything, from the planning to the execution, centered on further equipping those in leadership positions to worship and bring others to the kingdom.

“Beyond the music, we also want to deliver a great and insightful Bible study that is going to help in giving those that attend a charge,” Cox said. “We want to send people home with that energy to do what we are all called to do, and do it to the very best of our abilities.”